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Advice on a new opportunity

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So I'm asking the veteran Chefs out there to help me out with an issue I can see coming.

 

I am most likely going to be taking a position as Head Chef with a new company and while I am excited about the opportunities that this is going to have for me I am also nervous about how I should go about being successfully injected into an already running kitchen. I have never been Head Chef anywhere other than my current restaurant and my experience with hiring outside for management has been less than stellar. I was once hired as an outside Sous Chef and the team never really accepted me as a boss because of the tight knit team they already had, resulting in me leaving that job.

 

Basically what I'm asking is how should I go about gaining respect and trust from the team at my new opportunity? I don't want this to go the way it did when I was a Sous.

 

Thanks to everyone who replies, I appreciate any insight you can give me.

post #2 of 7

First week or 2 just watch ,take notes offer no opinion. If they ask you tell them you are analylizing operation and  figuring out how to improve it. Always ask WHY are they doing what they are doing, there may be a logical answer that only affects there operation. Stay low key when you get a good grasp then start rolling. You are responsible therefore answerable to management and you want it done your way.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 7

There really is no correct way to start and every situation is different. Chefedb's should work well. Taking a step back and talking with the people to see how and why they are doing things a certain way is much better than walking in and changing the game plan without viewing the field. Just make sure you are not too passive and don't show any weakness.

 

I would advise you let them all know from the start you are there to run the show and have high standards. Lead by example and show them you are a hard worker and serious about what you do and expect them to be the same. But try to leave the arrogance out of it, be humble enough to listen and learn from them. You will be setting the stage for the future. Don't hesitate to decisively jump in with both feet if you see something blatantly wrong, be firm but also fair. It's your professional reputation on the line. Stand up for what is right and don't accept slacking or indifference.

 

When I walked in once to a new situation the management told me I'd have trouble with CookA that the old Chef thought was worthless, while CookB was a pillar and irreplaceable. Well, you already know it. CookA became a superstar when I gave him a chance. ChefB I had to threaten to fire the first week but to his credit, ended up being a pillar for me for 5 years.

post #4 of 7

I concur with all of the advice given by the pros above. It's challenging to walk into any management job as an 'outsider', and your first few weeks will be critical in terms of heading up an existing team.

 

Try to strike a balance between friendliness and professionalism. Observe, and take notes, although not necessarily publicly. Expect both some resentment, and some relief from staff. Do not under any circumstances show that you are nervous! Assume that you will be respected and that your opinions and directions will be followed. Act accordingly, don't allow any insubordination, but be firm, fair, and consistent. Take it slow and easy....and try not to criticize the previous chef, even if it's difficult. That's never a good practice, and will gain you the opposite of respect.

 

Good luck, I've seen this done both very well, and very poorly, but you seem to have a good attitude. I'd love hear how it works out for you.

 

 

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank everyone for your replies, I do appreciate the advice. I'll be talking with the owner and gm on Tuesday, so we'll find out if I'll be putting this into practice pretty soon.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well I took the position. I start in 30 days. Nervous and excited at the same time....what a rush!!!

post #7 of 7

Congratulations!

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
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