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Corporate Kitchen Vs Non Corporate Kitchen

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am new to to the culinary world. I have only been in the industry for a little over two years and I wanted to get some professional opinions on the pros and cons of working in a corporate kitchen vs non corporate kitchen. Is it easier to move through the ranks in a corporate kitchen vs a non corporate extc.

 

Thank you for your time

post #2 of 17

Whole lotta factors to consider...........

 

If it's unionized, good luck.  There's a tremendous amount of arse-kissing just to get 30-40 hrs/week in, o.t.o.h., some places go by the book and you don't work f/t for a couple of years."Qualify" is a nasty, filthy, dirty, and very commonly used word with Hospt. Unions  Some corporate places move fast and move good people fast.  Some......

 

Non Corporate?  Depends.  If the Chef and his buddies are comfy, there's no movement in the ranks--then again, it's the same sitch for corporate places too..

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 17

Most corporate places have successfully removed the human element from there business, you always will be and are always are a number to places like that, completely expendable especially as a cook. 

 

Some of the pros, which does not always apply... Decent equipment, a reliable paycheck, shit usually gets fixed ASAP. 

 

Local places (depending on the owners) can usually work with you a lot more, when it comes to... anything! You get treated like a human and are respected as a professional. Sometimes small places have there "own way" of doing things shall we say. Sometimes even though its a weird, unconventional, maybe cheaper way to do something they get used to it to often and it can be hard for new employees to adjust to there way of doing things.You know what I mean if you've worked in small places. Stuff is more likely to change more often...

I find it has always been easier for me to move up in small places, opposed to the corperate ass kissing, cut throat world.

 

I prefer Small business 

post #4 of 17

There are pros and cons to both so a lot depends on what  your long term goals are.  A couple of pros, regarding corporate places; they have done this a lot and have to reproduce what they do time and time again, over many units so they have a lot of systems in place that really help with efficiency.  I've been in and out of corporate places and often take with me ideas that will help raise the efficiency of the next places I go.  They often have paperwork down to a science so I've often "borrowed" their ideas for tracking expenses and used them in other venues.  These places often have much better benefits (many independent places have no benefits, only a paycheck).  Some of the cons are that you might not be serving fresh food.  In many of these places a lot of the food is prepackaged and much of the work is done via microwave (this is not all coporate places but is often the case in the very large chains). Because they have things down to a science there isn't often much creativity allowed.  You follow recipes created by a corporate chef and are not allowed to alter the recipes to suit regional tastes (these places often strive for the food to taste exactly the same no matter what unit you walk into).

 

While this is a gross generalization I would say, if you want to learn how to cook spend your time working in independent restaurants or small corporate places that still allow for individual units to have chefs, not kitchen managers.  If you want to learn about managing and "systems" then a corporate place might be just what you are looking for.

http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #5 of 17

Pete is pretty much right on in his description. I run 6 kitchens in a multi unit environment, with one being a national chain. The specs of their menu are crazy, but if we don't follow we get audited by their corporate chefs and ripped a new one. Most of the food comes in frozen and we have to use their distributors as well. They do have stuff like line checks and food cost analysis down to a science, so much so that I have moved their check and balance system into my other concepts. I'm not interested in trying to manage 6 different systems

 

There is one perk nobody else has mentioned yet, the hours, I work Monday thru Friday (weekends are really slow) I am home by 8pm to see my wife and family. Hard to do that working at an outside place.
 

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by I Walk The Line View Post

 Is it easier to move through the ranks in a corporate kitchen vs a non corporate extc

 

 

This really depends on you and the employer. There are an awful lot of young Chef's out there doing grunt work in small non corporate kitchens calling them selves Executive Chefs. The pay and duties often don't match the title. Benefits are often less "beneficial" in non corporate environments.

In a corporate kitchen no one will be there to slap you on the back and tell you that you did well unless it's in the form of a performance bonus.

Don't hit the numbers and you will know you missed the mark.

The ying/yang of the corporate world is that there are often very stringent guide lines for who you order from, what products you use and even what brands you can buy. More structure but some find this a bit stifling in the creativity department. One of the best corporate gigs I had was in a secure Bank building for the Executives. No nights, no weekends, no holidays, large staff and a massive state of the art kitchen. Not many independents take the carte blanche approach.

Independents often have smaller tighter budgets and depending on location in seasonal areas labor can be just as big of a pain to deal with as unions.

Then there's the clubs. I'm not sure how you would categorize these but CC's, City clubs etc can be great gigs with perks a plenty. In my experience even the ones that are unionized aren't that bad to deal with. OTOH I'd rather stick a rusty larding needle in my left........eye than run a UAW kitchen in a factory.

That's painting with a pretty broad brush and I can think of numerous examples where independent operations or corporations are either excellent or atrocious to work for.

 

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #7 of 17

I personally prefer the corporate environment. For example I can avoid situations where the owner wants one of his friends in a position he's not qualified for or the favoritism and  relationships between the owner and certain people make it very difficult to have everybody follow the same rules. I'm not saying every restaurant owner goes about there business like this but I'd have to say that I have experienced a lot of this behavior when I have worked at the owner/operator business. Corporate is handled by them giving you a handbook, you following it to a t and work your tail off. Corporate also will keep you on your toes because it is a "what have you done for me lately" environment. I enjoy that part of it because as soon as you have got the chemical costs back in line it's time to revamp the breakfast menu and as soon as that is done we need to tune up the dishwashers because they forgot to clean the doors over the past week and on and on. As far as advancing goes yes with corporate there are usually more opportunities for growth because there is usually more than one property therefore advancing up the ladder is more attainable as long as you never forget what your goals are.  

post #8 of 17

Ahh, corporate...

 

Nothing describes the "special" feeling you get when the sales rep can't/won't give you the prices "head office' "negotiated on behalf of you", the smirk on the Sysco' rep's face when he knows that you know that you are getting screwed on pricing, but can't do a thing about it--someone at head office already cut a kickback deal, fingering you as an eejit who has to pay $12.oo more per case of 16-18 e/e bacon than the guy across the street.  And then they tell you to get your food costs in line.

 

When you can only order through one supplier, pay you a lousy wage, and promise you good bonuses IF you can keep your food costs in line. And the one supplier keeps giving you the shite-eating grin and tells you you have to order more product.....

 

When head office insists you keep Caeser salad on the menu even though romaine is going through the roof and the guy across the street has the luxury (and foresight) to take Ceaser temporarily off the menu.

 

When head office decrees that 90% of all product comes from packages--it's just soo much easier and consistent to open a package than to have a real cook cook stuff, fabricate meat, etc.

 

When head office decides to sell all of the d/washing machines and get "free" ones through a chemical supplier.  Now you HAVE to pay through the nose for "new computer adjusted" d/washer soap dispensers,  special custom sized hand soap bags for special hand soap dispensers, same with paper towels, arse-wipe holders and freakin sanitizer.  And then they tell you to keep your paper/chemical costs in line.....

 

Been there, done that.  There's a reason I stand smiling at Costco buying dairy and dry goods at over 30% cheaper than the broadliners, why I buy my chemicals and paper towels from indie-suppliers at over 40% cheaper than from the chemical guys , buy fresh, whole meats from meat, poultry, and fish suppliers and fabricate my own cuts instead of buying iqf and portion pac from the broadliners, buy fresh produce from local suppliers instead of the broadliners.

 

Corporate isn't for everybody.....

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post

Ahh, corporate...

 

Nothing describes the "special" feeling you get when the sales rep can't/won't give you the prices "head office' "negotiated on behalf of you", the smirk on the Sysco' rep's face when he knows that you know that you are getting screwed on pricing, but can't do a thing about it--someone at head office already cut a kickback deal, fingering you as an eejit who has to pay $12.oo more per case of 16-18 e/e bacon than the guy across the street.  And then they tell you to get your food costs in line.

 

When you can only order through one supplier, pay you a lousy wage, and promise you good bonuses IF you can keep your food costs in line. And the one supplier keeps giving you the shite-eating grin and tells you you have to order more product.....

 

When head office insists you keep Caeser salad on the menu even though romaine is going through the roof and the guy across the street has the luxury (and foresight) to take Ceaser temporarily off the menu.

 

When head office decrees that 90% of all product comes from packages--it's just soo much easier and consistent to open a package than to have a real cook cook stuff, fabricate meat, etc.

 

When head office decides to sell all of the d/washing machines and get "free" ones through a chemical supplier.  Now you HAVE to pay through the nose for "new computer adjusted" d/washer soap dispensers,  special custom sized hand soap bags for special hand soap dispensers, same with paper towels, arse-wipe holders and freakin sanitizer.  And then they tell you to keep your paper/chemical costs in line.....

 

Been there, done that.  There's a reason I stand smiling at Costco buying dairy and dry goods at over 30% cheaper than the broadliners, why I buy my chemicals and paper towels from indie-suppliers at over 40% cheaper than from the chemical guys , buy fresh, whole meats from meat, poultry, and fish suppliers and fabricate my own cuts instead of buying iqf and portion pac from the broadliners, buy fresh produce from local suppliers instead of the broadliners.

 

Corporate isn't for everybody.....

 

 

STOP! STOP! Please.....you're making my head hurt.

 

Yup....in many instances corporate food service can be very stifling. 

Braising cow's comments are a reality, but truth be told even corporate can act like a owner operator at times.

Employee handbooks will not stand up in a court of law or the unemployment adjudicators office. It's a no win situation.

post #10 of 17

Like in many other corporate type businesses, you are a number not a person. They do not strive for top quality as much as they strive for consistency and food cost % . To get anything accomplished you must go up the chain of command till you hit the guys in the Ivory Tower and who most times  know numbers and not food.. I have found that in so many cases central corporate purchasing cost more money., because they are locked into a price all year round Example I worked for a large hotelchain in Florida that only dealt with Sysco in contract form. Bacon was locked in at $2.90 a pound but every other purveyor for same brand Hormel Thick Slice wa lke 2.30 apound > I told  the rep and manager

Nobody seemed to care. I used about 10  -15 pound cases a week. So they were spending $90.00 a week to much or enough to buy 2 more cases anywhere else.  ??? you figure it

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 #11 of 17
I guess the corporate environment I currently am in allows more freedo than most when it comes to purchasing an contracts with purveyors. I deal with two purveyors for dry goods and we have a kickback contract with one of them for a quarterly 4% return but when costing the new menus and getting pricing on different items I have the flexibility to buy from the other guy if the prices are better which a lot I the times are, I now have purchases split at about 50/50 because when you get ribeyes for 7.10 as opposed to 7.90 you can throw that 4% out the door because 9% will negate it with our executives. So I do understand that side of it and forgot how fortunate I am in my position.
post #12 of 17

Chefross and I have been through the same gammit. NOTHING IS FREE  when hthey supply dishwashing machines and coffee pots thats all in the price you pay, When they kickback 4% that means you probably overpaid 5%. .You have to watch all of them as they are all out to charge as much as they can on your backs. Costco,Sams, Bj are all 25 to 30% less., and you dont have to buy cases therefore not tying your $ up on the shelf in the storeroom.  SYSCO for example has 4 or 5 different prices for same item to different accounts  depending on how dumb they think you are.Ejb

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 #13 of 17

Yes I've seen how the pricing works, they have three different prices on their computer that go from low, average and high and they can pick any number they want in between, you are right about the 4% because if you don't look at all your pricing you'll never see that the $25 case of gloves has gone up to $40 for you. They love to make up for food discounts in paper goods, that is why I like to search out a purveyor just for those products.

post #14 of 17

I've done corporate and owner-operated and  I had a good experience with corporate and owner operated and then a terrible experience with owner-operated so really I think it depends not only on the place but the people who are in charge.

 

Now I'm corporate again, as well as non profit and both places are amazing to work at.

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #15 of 17

Two suppliers...........

 

As a "indie" I see a lot of stuff when I go shopping for my biz.  F'r instance, I buy all my Italian foods at a large indie Italian supplier; family run, been around 50 yrs, yada yada.  I see Sysco and the other big boy trucks there, they're loading pallets of stuff on.  Makes sense, the Italian guy imports containers of stuff, and the big-boys buy off of him.

 

Same thying with my poultry supplier.  Sysco and the big boys are there loading up fresh chicken and turkeys on thier trucks.  The supplier's local, his plant is federally inspected, the big boys use him because his product is good and much cheaper then to import from the States.

 

Produce?  Alot of the produce here comes from the States or Central america.  Sysco might buy a few pallets off of the truck that supplies every grocer in town.  It's the same stuff.

 

The more suppliers you use, the cheaper your food cost becomes and the more viariety you have.  Your accountant will hate you, the boss will love the food cost, your customers will realize that your food is different from the other guy and will stop comparing prices.  This is the anti-theme of Corporate philosophy, but one that I go out of my way to adopt.

 

For rank and file members reading this post, Yes, Corporate does offer benefits, but remember, the benefits only kick in if you work full time.  And Mickey d's was one of the first Corp's to realize that it is far--uh.. "cost effective" to have 3 p/t staff opposed to one f/t staff.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #16 of 17

Depends what your career goals are.

I always told young passion driven chefs to get to the big city and work for a big name restaurant. Nothing builds a resume faster than working for the best. If you want to do your own thing one day, then do both.

The corporate have mastered systems and procedures, such as food cost, labor cost etc.

Indies have a much more flexible operation where creativity may be encouraged.

 

I have worked both. Ultimately I hated corporate because the rules were too stifling, worked for indies and had to deal with crazy owners and broken equipment.

 

Pro's and Con's both sides.

post #17 of 17

Every thing Food Pump says is on the money. The more you can bypass the big guys and go direct to supply source the more you save.

Some manufacturers will have closeouts, try and find out who the food brokers are and deal with them . I one time met one at a food show and took the entire amount of cases of Large Mexican white shrimp  (not tiger) he ,had and wanted to sell out of . I negociated to take all 300 something cases within a six month frame. I saves  $ 4.20 a pound over the wholesale price. 300cases  50 Pounds to a  case.$4.20 X50=$210.00 a case- X 300 cases=$$6300.00 divided by 12 monthes or $525.00 a month shaved off food cost. At that time that was about 1  7th of my salary for the year. Owners were eleted.

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...

Reply
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