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How to deal with piss poor attitudes and child like tantrums?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
As a new entrant to the culinary world I have a question on dealing with younger "chefs" with the above issues. So I have been working at this venue now for 3 months. It's my first real cooking job. My prior experience has been doing prep/cooking/dishes/setting tables etc at masonic lodges for dinners over the years. And over those years I worked with some really great chefs. I never had a problem taking instruction or doing what I was told I know my place and am eager to learn. I am very quiet and try to maintain a peaceful calm environment. I try to be friendly to everyone at work, the waitstaff, the bartenders, kitchen staff I work with etc. I try to lead by example in my life. So the chef is a woman who I get along with pretty well. She has no formal training or experience. She comes from a catering/gardening background. She is incredibly high strung and is constantly bouncing around like a meth addict talking to herself, did she forget to cook the mushrooms or wheres my butter out loud. She is going to have a stroke! Anyway in order to help her out and help get the kitchen running better and get a Sunday brunch up and running they hired this other "chef". He is 32, and while he has worked in some decent restaurants here on the east coast and has had 30 people under him before his attitude is in need of dire checking. Since he has started working there he has belittled or screamed at just about everyone. I think everyone in the kitchen has threatened to walk out and quit at least once after his tantrums. He seems ok 70% of the time when we are not busy. It's the 30% of the time when we are busy the problems come out. Like tonight when I was serving salads from our second kitchen across the building. Apparently they got swamped with 6 tickets and he has one of the younger girls in the kitchen come into the other kitchen and tell me to get my ass back to the other kitchen now! So I already knew he was having one of his tantrums on the walk back to the other kitchen. And the second I walk into the kitchen he is literary throwing this hot pan filled with chicken Marsala across the kitchen right in front of me onto the station I usually occupy to make nachos. It came 2 inches in front of me as it went flying by. And he is screaming to "get the hell out of my way NOW!" Now I am not one to start fights. But I don't handle being threatened or someone trying to intimidate me well. I don't care who you are. So he is ranting and shouting and acting like an 8 year old that didn't get a lollipop at the bank tellers window. My gut reaction is to just take him outside and beat the piss out of him. Teach him some effing respect for people. You simply don't treat people like he does. Sooner or later someone is going to clean your clock. Now I know and have read attitudes and ego's are rampant in kitchens. But I call BS. You simply can't treat people like this. No one will respect you, no one will give you 110%, and they will constantly be looking for another job. So I tell the female chef "I dont need this shit" and just about walked out. Right after I said that though he started to calm down and get himself under control. So I went to work trying to help him with whatever he needed done. There is an old saying I am sure everyone has heard, If you cant stand the heat GET OUT of the kitchen. Thats what I feel like he needs to do. If you cannot handle the pressure when things get deep GET OUT! I dont need your shit and neither does the rest of the kitchen staff. It brings morale way down. Maybe im wrong and im sure you will all say as much if I am. I don't have respect for people like this that cant handle pressure and take it out on those around them. What do you do with someone that has bouts of child like tantrums in the kitchen? I think hes an arrogant little prick who thinks he is way more important than he is. The only thing he has on anyone in that kitchen is experience. Thats it. He doesn't create boundary pushing food, he isn't a master of the culinary arts. But he has the attitude of someone that does. What should I do about him?
Edited by X86BSD - 7/1/12 at 3:27pm
post #2 of 28

I would talk to whomever is in charge. The worst thing to have in a kitchen is someone who is mad at you. It will make your job hell trying to work with them. If management doesn't do anything, then leave. They don't care and he'll get away with everything and keep doing it. Never hit him though. You can be fired and even prosecuted. Although, if someone threw something with hot liquid across a kitchen on purpose and any of it burned me, I would react in self defense. 

 

Don't even let it get to you. There's a morning chef we have who has tantrums and throws things because he can't handle more than 10 people at a time making simple things like pasta and omelets. I just sit there and laugh at him while he does this and run circles around him. If he hits me, he's done. If he keeps damaging equipment, he's done. So like I said it's up to management, but let him get himself fired. 

post #3 of 28

I like your post and I agree as a chef.  There is no place for a manager like that any more! Putting a good team together and treating people like people is the only way to go! If I were you I would have a heart to heart with chef. If you are a pretty good worker this should go well if your chef investigates the problems. Tantrums are a holdover from the old school and need to be nipped in the bud. Just have integrity and it will all be fine! Keep us posted!............

The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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The two most common things in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity !
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post #4 of 28

Sounds a lot like my F&B, a bully.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cookers View Post

I would talk to whomever is in charge. The worst thing to have in a kitchen is someone who is mad at you. It will make your job hell trying to work with them. If management doesn't do anything, then leave. They don't care and he'll get away with everything and keep doing it. Never hit him though. You can be fired and even prosecuted. Although, if someone threw something with hot liquid across a kitchen on purpose and any of it burned me, I would react in self defense. 

Don't even let it get to you. There's a morning chef we have who has tantrums and throws things because he can't handle more than 10 people at a time making simple things like pasta and omelets. I just sit there and laugh at him while he does this and run circles around him. If he hits me, he's done. If he keeps damaging equipment, he's done. So like I said it's up to management, but let him get himself fired. 

You are absolutely right about hitting him. You should never do that. That was my anger talking when I wrote the OP when I reached home. I've cooled off a little now. That was just my initial reaction to his tantrum and throwing things around the kitchen. I didn't choke him out UFC style I just reallllly felt like it. But I just want to reinforce what you said about not resorting to violence. Ever. That's almost as immature as his tantrums.

I will talk to the owner and express to him my issues with this guy. The sad thing is they have been through 2 other "chefs" before I got there who they also let go because of the same kind of behavior. I like the idea of just laughing at him maybe I should take that tact for people that cant handle our small kitchen smile.gif
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
This is all some very good advice and I thank you all! I was a bit concerned that this is just "how it is" in kitchens and was going to be told to just deal with it. I could not see how anyone would want to work or stay in a kitchen like that. You would never be able to retain talent. I really appreciate the advice. And I will certainly update and let you know what happens. Hopefully this thread could be helpful to the next person that finds themselves in a similar position.
post #7 of 28

Laughing at him isn't really much less childish than his behavior, IMO.

 

How did he get to where his is at a young age? is he a good technical cook? What kind of place is this?

post #8 of 28

I think "Angry Chef" is a thing of the past. It's difficult to be around people that can't control their emotions-let alone work with/for them. These are people that not only hate their job but are aware they hit their plateau. It never gets better. Here's what usually happens in an establishment that has a low chef-retention rate: The chef duties are doled out to the rest of the kitchen staff without compensation and if you refuse, management either cuts your hours or terminate you. I think it's great that you left the I.T. industry to do something you love! Not enough people like you. Let me ask you something: What's keeping you in Connecticut? Would you consider moving to the NYC area? There are so many options, year-round work and a great place to cut your teeth especially for someone as passionate as yourself.........and it's close to Connecticut. You should think about it.

post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexalexnyc View Post

I think "Angry Chef" is a thing of the past. It's difficult to be around people that can't control their emotions-let alone work with/for them. These are people that not only hate their job but are aware they hit their plateau. It never gets better. Here's what usually happens in an establishment that has a low chef-retention rate: The chef duties are doled out to the rest of the kitchen staff without compensation and if you refuse, management either cuts your hours or terminate you. I think it's great that you left the I.T. industry to do something you love! Not enough people like you. Let me ask you something: What's keeping you in Connecticut? Would you consider moving to the NYC area? There are so many options, year-round work and a great place to cut your teeth especially for someone as passionate as yourself.........and it's close to Connecticut. You should think about it.

You seem pretty confused in all of your posts.

 

You were just complaining about your experiences the last time you worked in NYC.

post #10 of 28

To the original poster

 

Now, this is just my personal opinion.......

 

Kitchen mngmt reflects the overall mngmt.  If the owner or Fn'B doesn't know or care about Sousy's hissy fits and Cheffie's lack of command/control over Sous-y, then they (owner/f&b) have the balls of a castrato and can't/won't handle the situation anyway.

 

It is the owner who signs the paychecks, NOT the Chef or Sous, and the owner knows all too well that employees can be assets or liabilities.  If no one can last two weeks under Sous-y's watch then either the owner will get rid of him, or is sleeping with him and is totally blind to the whole situation.

 

If you deck Sous-y, I guarantee he will retaliate, and probably very creatively too. In his swollen opinion you are challenging him and his command in front of all of his employees, and he'd rather walk naked through a gay-bar and then slide down a 50 ft razor blade then have a subordinate "embarass" him.  That's his opinion, not reality, but be aware of it.  The best thing to do when the eejit is throwing stuff around is too smile and nod, tell him to his face that you will work this shift out and then no more.  If you do feel threatened, you file charges.  Let the cops handle it from there on, because you aren't working there anymore anyway.

 

Hope this helps....

...."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 #11 of 28

i cant say i have ever been in your position because i am 194cm and 116 kgs and swim, bike ride or something active everyday so i am a bit of a monster in the kithcen and people dont throw stuff at me.  i keep my head down and do my work and get my job done.  but i have worked in places where i have seen these chefs.  i think i read a comment saying that this is a thing of the past.  i believe it to be true.  too many resturants and not enough good cooks.  you have to hope it works itself out and this douche is fired.  if not then there is always another good place to work.  while doing my apprenticeship i took advice from a chef at school.  work at the place learn what the menu and chef have to teach then move on to the next.  i worked 10 different places in the 3 years during my apprenticeship sometimes two places at once.  there is always another job in another kitchen.     

post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
So the update is last sunday, our brunch day, the owner stops me in our second kitchen as I was bringing stuff back to our main kitchen we cook in and asks me how things are going. I said so/so. And he asks whats the so part? And I proceed to tell him about our "chef" helping us out and his tantrums. Basically what I said here in my OP. So he explains to me he is aware of the problems. And that he gets angry to being italian. but he always make sure to tell whoever he gets mad at at the end of the day he didnt mean to get angry etc so they know everything is ok.
Then he says I think you said what the problem was very well. Why don't you talk to the "chef" and tell him what you just told me. I don't know why he asked me to do it unless he just doesnt want to deal with it. I cant fire the prick i dont have the authority so he isnt going to listen to me. But i agree to do it anyway. so as the "chef" is leaving sunday at noon, we serve brunch 10-2 but it was slow so he decides to leave, i ask if he has 2 seconds and we step outside the kitchen onto the deck. I try to be as diplomatic as possible which is bad because im not a diplomatic person so I basically tell him "im not very diplomatic but I guess im the one who is tasked to say this but you have to get your tantrums under control. You cant be going off and throwing shit around the kitchen and yelling at people. This is nothing personal your a decent guy most of the time but when we get busy or the pressure sets in you lose your shit and we cant have that. THATS when we need you to pour on the cool thats when you have to be cool and calm not fall to pieces and throw a fit. We dont need you falling to pieces when it gets to be crunch time thats when we need you at your calmest." Thats not verbatim but thats the jist of what I said. And I can tell right away this is going over like a lead balloon. His responses are... Ok... ok... ok. Arms crossed. I can tell he is getting burt hurt over this and I tried to be as diplomatic as possible when I really wanted to just say "dude quit crying like an effing baby when it gets stressful in the kitchen or quit!" Then he asks me who asked me to say this and i tell him the owner did. And he already has his phone out and is sending him a text or email. And I can tell its out of anger so im sure its filled with wonderful things. He says well i find it unprofessional that you had to tell me this. And thats when my mind exploded. He said me telling him to stop losing his sh@$ was unprofessional? What does it matter if I said it or someone asked me to say it? So right away I get convinced this guys not right in the head. I am already partially convinced he is on drugs. So I figure when I go back to work thursday he is going to be gunning for me because I had the audacity to tell him to stop throwing tantrums. And then things are going to come to a head. Which is a shame because this place has so much potential. I would hate to leave but I cant work with people that lose their cool and throw fits. This isnt grade school. Stop acting like a child. So we will see what happens.
post #13 of 28

The whole place, yourself included, sounds like a mess.

 

You complain, albeit on a message forum, and that's okay? but him complaining and losing his cool isn't ok?

 

Also, he's right, someone working under him shouldn't be the one confronting him and/or calling him out about the issues he may have, it should be the owner of the restaurant, or the executive chef, period. 

post #14 of 28

I disagree.

I think the OP has the right to call him out.

He should already have his knives packed when he does it, because it's probably not going to be taken well.

But in a private, closed environment, yes, he should be able to tell the chef that they have a problem.

They.

As in, the chef is immature, and the OP is unable to deal with it.

I think the Japanese tradition of getting drunk with your boss and telling him off with no repurcussions should be adopted into our culture as well.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Just Jim View Post

I disagree.

I think the OP has the right to call him out.

He should already have his knives packed when he does it, because it's probably not going to be taken well.

But in a private, closed environment, yes, he should be able to tell the chef that they have a problem.

They.

As in, the chef is immature, and the OP is unable to deal with it.

I think the Japanese tradition of getting drunk with your boss and telling him off with no repurcussions should be adopted into our culture as well.

 

That's what I mean, the whole way he went about it wasn't the right way.

 

Telling off a boss with no repercussions would cause anarchy everywhere in this industry. There would be no chain of command, and nobody would respect anyone, below or above them.

post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View Post

The whole place, yourself included, sounds like a mess.

You complain, albeit on a message forum, and that's okay? but him complaining and losing his cool isn't ok?

Also, he's right, someone working under him shouldn't be the one confronting him and/or calling him out about the issues he may have, it should be the owner of the restaurant, or the executive chef, period. 

And there is where we just disagree. Ive never worked anywhere where if someone is being a total douchebag I havent called them out on it and told them so. I dont think there is a protocol to being told your a douche. Thats just ridiculous. And complaining on a forum and seeking advice is one thing, throwing shit around a kitchen and screaming at others in a place of business whether its a kitchen or law office is unacceptable. Period. If you cannot tell the difference between the two I don't know what to tell you. *shrug*
post #17 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by X86BSD View Post


And there is where we just disagree. Ive never worked anywhere where if someone is being a total douchebag I havent called them out on it and told them so. I dont think there is a protocol to being told your a douche. Thats just ridiculous. And complaining on a forum and seeking advice is one thing, throwing shit around a kitchen and screaming at others in a place of business whether its a kitchen or law office is unacceptable. Period. If you cannot tell the difference between the two I don't know what to tell you. *shrug*

You've called this guy a prick, a douche, among various other childish insults, all in this thread.

 

Everytime you describe how immature this chef is, you do it being equally immature, FYI.

 

So as long as you're laying it out, being immature and calling him names is okay on a forum, but it's not okay to tell him these things in person? gotcha.

post #18 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View Post

You've called this guy a prick, a douche, among various other childish insults, all in this thread.

Everytime you describe how immature this chef is, you do it being equally immature, FYI.

So as long as you're laying it out, being immature and calling him names is okay on a forum, but it's not okay to tell him these things in person? gotcha.

I have ZERO issue telling him this to his face. Obviously we just dont agree on the rest.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by X86BSD View Post

when I really wanted to just say "dude quit crying like an effing baby when it gets stressful in the kitchen or quit!"

Doesn't sound like you have ZERO issues telling him to his face.

post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View Post

Doesn't sound like you have ZERO issues telling him to his face.

I dont. I dont see how taking the high road in spite of how i feel makes me immature. Quite the opposite.
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by X86BSD View Post


I dont. I dont see how taking the high road in spite of how i feel makes me immature. Quite the opposite.

It doesn't.

 

Calling someone a douche, prick, etc.. however, does.

 

Good luck though, sounds like an amazing place to work.

post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by X86BSD View Post And the second I walk into the kitchen he is literary throwing this hot pan filled with chicken Marsala across the kitchen right in front of me onto the station I usually occupy to make nachos. It came 2 inches in front of me as it went flying by. And he is screaming to "get the hell out of my way NOW!"

Without getting into the specifics of the situation, I observed a similar outburst, when a cook flung a hot entree across a kitchen in the direction of another employee. The charges brought against him were battery and reckless endangerment. He did 30 days in the local lock-up, and was sentenced to  24 months probation and anger management therapy. My understanding was he skipped out on several sessions of anger management therapy and wound up back in the clink for another 30 days.

 

The thing your boss should keep in mind: If this person behaves again, in a similar manner, after your boss is made aware of his behavioral outbursts, and battery charges are filed, "the boss" becomes an accessory and while it's unlikely that criminal charges would be filed against him, a civil charge with commensurate financial damages can assessed by the court if someone is injured. Your employer is legally bound to provide a safe work environment.

post #23 of 28

Unbelievable.  Ya know..there are so many "Chefs" out there who think its cool to emulate Gordon Ramsay. Only Gordon Ramsay can be Gordon Ramsay. Its just not cool to be a moody, angry and frustrated Chef. I feel bad for those that work for them and as far as I'm concerned they all deserve their staff to walk out on them one really busy night to teach them a lesson in how to treat others. Heh...maybe they should develop a reality show called Food Mutiny where they film restaurant crews dealing with tyrant bosses, and between the film crew and staff they stage a walk out and watch the owners flip out and then get some serious feedback.  I've worked for jackasses like that...and I gotta tell ya...they taught me how NOT to be in dealing with my staff. And I am able to manage effectively and fairly and I keep great staff at my core. I do hire some losers on occasion...but I quickly weed them out...and truth is..my core staff get

 to them before I do. LOL If their pressure doesn't work..they get gone fairly quick.  As mentioned in another post..I don't let poison hang out long. They taint the rest of the kitchen.  When management is at the helm being poor managers...the staff is helpless and its just not fair. These guys are the reason you are successful if you are...and they should be treated with the respect and admiration the Chef wants for him/herself. Good luck and I hope for his own sake as well as all of you who work for him that he gets his dose of humility before long.

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View PostCalling someone a douche.....

 

Just saw this...Never heard someone called a douche. I'd burst out laughing; might even think it was a compliment.

post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by RSteve View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrelRJ View PostCalling someone a douche.....

 

Just saw this...Never heard someone called a douche. I'd burst out laughing; might even think it was a compliment.

"Walking sack of vinegar" is how a weekly radio host on a college radio talk show here terms it.  Love it.  Certainly not complimentary....although if you're used to be called much worse then...maybe?

post #26 of 28

I am 6ft 3 and 250 Pounds so no one usually screamed at me .  However I used to see this years ago, today with the laws changed its very rare. In one place I was Sous Chef in, all the employees signed a letter addressed to management re chefs attitude. I took them abot 1 month to replace him.Oh yea  one employee had him screaming caught on tape ,so I guess that helped.

One other thing to note  "The chef is only as good as his staff''

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 #27 of 28

Yes the times have changed, any Chef that is in the position that they are in should never be the one panicking, we are supposed to be the ones leading the staff and setting the mood and tone in the kitchen, if the staff in you're workplace including yourself feel that the leadership and respect is not there than this guy has already lost all of you and there won't be anyway to get you guys back which will ultimately cost them dearly in the long run as their success depends on you guys. A true leader won't act like that and you need to be the one to take the higher road and have a professional discussion with your direct supervisor (Avoid telling them that you want to hit the guy :)) Squirrel I disagree with you and feel that just because someone has a title or their name on a jacket doesn't grant them the power to act and treat employees however they want. Staff and morale building is a huge part of the business and without it running a successful operation is nearly impossible. 

post #28 of 28

I have someone in my department who likes to pitch fits when when things do not go their way.  The boss asked me to take care of a situation the other day so I did but then this person came in and started freaking out on me.   They like to lean on the fact that they have English as their second language and that they don't understand.. yeah right... I have worked with cooks that have not even been in this country for a few months and I have never experienced what I have with this person... this one knows how to work it and they have been here for thirteen years.   I was very angry that this person acted they way he did...  not only did he make an a** out of me in front of two new people, he dug himself a nice hole he is going to have to work his way out of before I will begin to train him again to be a supervisor, if I ever choose to do that again.  He could have came to me and asked "why do I need to lose a person?" and I would have given him the answer the boss gave me, but no, he chose to come yelling at me.   It is going to take a very long time before I am willing to mentor him again and I am going to need to see a huge improvement in his professionalism before I am even willing to consider it.

 

I apologized to the boss even though I was just doing as I was told,  and he was OK with me, and this dude went off on him too about why he needed so many people and both the boss and I know he was milking it and doing as little work as he could and making alot of noise about what he was doing. 

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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