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A Job Problem

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

I'm an inexperienced chef, and I'd like some advice from some people who are more seasoned.

 

I've been working at my current place, my first chefs job for 9 months. I'd like to start by saying that whilst I know I still have a massive amount to learn, for the place that I am currently working I know most things, and I class myself as one of the best chefs who works there.

 

Now let me get to the problems. We have four sections, and I know them all, like the back of my hand. There are only two other people, plus the senior chefs that know that. Despite that, I don't get given hours. Or rather, I do, but I am called on the day because its busier than expected/someone hasn't turned up etc. Obviously, I'm unhappy about that. In my time there I've been late about 5 times, by 10 minutes, but other than that I turn up 15-30 mins early for each and every shift. I've never called in sick.

 

Because I know all the sections, I'm expected to run the entire kitchen when its quiet. I am totally capable of doing that, but I feel like my wages, and rank don't mean that I should do this. Especially, as I have been passed over twice for a promotion.

 

I'm expected to go onto sections that are getting weeded on busy nights, sort it out, before moving onto the next section -  I don't really have a section that I work on, because I'm always expected to help out whoever needs it.

 

I keep up the attitude of just saying 'yes chef' to no matter what is asked of me, and the only thing I complain about to my chef is the hours situations, because obviously I need the money. But I feel like I'm getting used.

 

What do you people with hindsight, and insight thing?

post #2 of 29
What kind of establishment are you working in? Does the head chef want his/her staff to be able to work every station? For me, the more one knows and is able to do, the more useful that person is to the kitchen, and when a station gets weeded it is good to have people who can help out.

Lateness is something that is generally not tolerated and if you have been there for nine months and been late five times that does not look good on you and our head chef is more than likely taking that into account when he/she does the schedule.

I was responsible for the schedule when I worked at a breakfast place and I took the staff's habits into account when I made the schedule. I knew that Bob Iif left unsupervised would do what he thought he should do as opposed to what he was supposed to do so I never gave him an open shift, and knew that Jane would fly in at the time her shift started so she was never given an open shift either, but a mid morning start because even if she was late, at least the kitchen was covered.
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 #3 of 29

How old are you?
 

post #4 of 29

I second Leeniek. Late 5 times is enough to get you a reputation for lateness.

 

My gut is telling me it's probably one of two things:

a) your self evaluation exceeds actual performence

b) there is an attitude problem. You're still the FNG at 9 mos, and you're still a greenhorn regardless. It's a bit soon to be walking around as the cock of the walk.

post #5 of 29

Late is never good my man! I would seriously change your work ethics or you will not be moving up!. In my kitchen  I would have counseled you pretty strongly the first two times and said adios to you on the third. You can be the best cook in the world but if you are undependable then you are no good to the kitchen crew and my job as chef is to put the best team together and give the best food and service to the customer.And also as a culinary student you should learn the brigade system as there is only 2 people in the kitchen in charge , chef and his sous chef.Your title sounds like a cook so maybe you should pull your head out of the clouds and be early to work always, work hard and neat while keeping your head down and mouth shut. This formula worked for most of us as young cooks and hard work never goes out of style........
 

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 #6 of 29

Here, if you're late three times, you're out. It doesn't matter how good you are. If you're late, others have to do your job and their own and also it really screws up the production line if someone is missing.

 

I've been late once (due to a accident that held up traffic) and taken one sick day in 37 years.

 

I don't have the patience for staff that show up late or call in sick regularly.

 

If you have the talent to run a busy kitchen, you should also be responsible enough to be on time.

 

Five times in a year may not seem much to you but, rest assured that is enough for someone to label you as undependable.

post #7 of 29

Yeah I agree with the other posters. You already shot yourself in the foot by being late 5 times in a 9 month period. Just so you are aware its going to take a couple of years to overcome that impression. And that means you can't be late ever again. Every time you are late, you are reinforcing the idea that you aren't dependable. So if you can't make it to work at this place on time for the next 2 years, I would suggest trying to find another job and starting over.
 

post #8 of 29
Chronic lateness usually has a reason, and I've found its usually from not looking fwd to being there.
Problem here is, you may never erase that perception of you as unreliable. Even if you're on time for the next 2 years.
Unless the other players change...co workers seldom forget. So if you still want to be there, I would be on time a while and ask head chef
Where you stand. REALLY stand. But if in the end you have ambitions that will never be realized because you've created your own stigma about your reliability....then you may have to go elsewhere. Life's to short to spin your wheels for the next 2 years.
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsen1985 View Post

How old are you?
 

 

21

 

I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but I'm talking the times I've been late by 5-10 minutes. Not like two hours or something, usually because I rely on public transport and its unreliable. I always contact someone to let them know. I understand its unacceptable, and thats why I always aim to get there 30 mins early, so even if I'm 'late' I'm still on time.

Also, I'm not trying to make excuses but compared to my co-workers I am one of the most reliable guys. I didn't mention in the OP, but another of the problems is lack of feedback from the management, and complete lack of punishment in the kitchen. People regularly skip out on shifts, be hours late and just stroll in, hungover and high on drugs. Literally nothing will happen. Maybe I'm not as good as I think - but if no-one is telling me that then how can I improve?

 

The place has a fast turn over - I'm one of the longest serving people there. And please don't call me arrogant, as I said I know I have a huge amount still to learn, but with the restaurant and menu we have, I know it. Ask me to cook something off the top of your head, and I might not be able to, but ask me for something from that menu and I can do it.

 

Oh, and just to say, the guys getting more hours than me are the ones who are late, call in sick etc. They are by no means more reliable or anything than me - I've got it from other people that they are less reliable.

 

Could I get some answers about my problems rather than the lateness please?

post #10 of 29
How well do you get on with other staff? Particularly the chef? When I was an apprentice at some of the places I worked those that weren't friends with the chef didn't get hours. Didn't matter how hard they worked. I would never run my kitchen that way. A few weeks back I effectively fired someone who I got along with really well because they were unreliable. I personally wouldn't look badly upon you for being 5-10 mins late when you rely on public transport. Especially if you are normally 15-30 mins early. Find out where you stand with the chef. He just may not like you. Sorry to say
post #11 of 29

You know that public transportation is unreliable so take the earlier bus! Do not blame late on public transport after the first time!

 

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 29

If I had a kitchen b***h that would come in on short notice and could jump in on 4 different stations with out being led by the hand, I would be pretty reluctant to change anything.

Have you talked to Chef about your frustration?

He may not be aware that you can actually take a few shifts and still attend school.

If you get negative feedback, ask him what skills you need to focus on, thank him and get back to work.

He/she will now be aware of your short term goal and have (maybe) someone train you for full time on one of those stations.

It is not difficult to jump in and help...it is working from open to close that gets tricky (see late to work threads).

 

mimi

 

Also...no more excuses.

They are like as#-####s, right?

 

m.


Edited by flipflopgirl - 3/4/13 at 4:39am
post #13 of 29

This is my first post on this forum and I hope that it is useful. I have been reading this forum for roughly two months but only recently felt inclined to throw in my "two cents"

 

Anyway,

I have only moved into the management arena in the last two years so I am not too far removed from the hourly line cook life. Rather than hold a specific plan for my career I formulated a few sort of personal rules and principles to guide myself by and still keep myself open and fluid to the opportunities for personal education and growth through my formative years. Some of them are rather personal but,IMHO, a few can be universally used.

It's nothing earth shattering, just a few things that have helped guide me.

here are two or three that directly apply to your situation.

(please keep in mind, these are not directives to you, just things that I applied to my personal growth tailored to address your situation)

 

1: Know that you don't know. You're still in school, at the beginning of your career. In the grand scheme of things your knowledge is rather limited. Once you accept that you don't know, then you are in the proper mindset to start learning. If you are hungry for knowledge, humble and passionate than your knowledge will grow exponentially every year.

 

2: PERSONAL STANDARDS!! your personal standards should be higher than any other standards you are held to...everyone else gets to be late?? SO WHAT? your a professional, your not late because it's against YOUR standards.

 

3.NEVER be the best person in the kitchen. If you are the best cook in your kitchen than it's time to get to a better kitchen. Remember, you've accepted that you don't know much, and if YOU don't know much and are the strongest cook then how can you learn??

This WHOLE career is a long journey of learning. Surround yourself with people who are better than you and challenge you!

 

You need to be in a kitchen surrounded by cooks with more knowledge and skill, then shut up, put your head down, be humble and learn.

I promise you, if everyone else in the kitchen are a bunch of bad-ass culinarian's, you wouldn't dare being late, because all you want is to work your ass off and earn their respect.

 

In regards to the kitchen atmosphere you have described. It's good that you have seen this. A disorganized kitchen full of goof offs drunks and stoners. Now you know what NOT to be a part of. Cut and run! If what you say is true, this is not the place to spend your formative years...Beg an plead at the best restaurant in town for an opportunity to work in the prep kitchen and work your way up.  I always believed it was better to have the worst job at the best place in town than the best job at the worst. I have never regretted those decision. Sure, you won't make much money starting out but if your passionate than you will understand that your being paid in experience. Knowledge and experience make it possible for you to make a HELL of a lot more money down the line.

Good luck to you buddy!

post #14 of 29

RDM, like you, I'm that kitchen b***h that Mimi is talking about, the one called in when others don't show up/are sick/etc but unlike you, I love it. I'm scheduled 40/wk, love being there and only live a mile away so I'm happy to go in to work 6/7 days a week for OT. Maybe your chef doesn't realize that you're not ok with the situation you've both set up, it's time for a quick and honest conversation.

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

know that the transport isn't reliable, that's why I set off an hour early, and generally work 30 minutes for free every day. The fact that sometimes my bus doesn't arrive for 40-50 minutes is something that I can't change, and shame on me but I'm not willing to give the chef more than 30 mins free labour when I feel that its simply not appreciated.

 

I have spoken to my chef a few weeks ago, I asked him what I needed to do better. He told me my work ethic is great, standard of my food is something that he doesn't need to worry about, standard of my prep is good, my uniform is always clean etc, and the only thing I need to worry about is that I'm not too confident. Since he said that I feel like I've become more confident, but the fact is I don't go to work to bust balls and mess about with the guys, I go to work, so talking with everyone isn't high on my priority list.

 

Lauren, I don't mind being called in either - if I was already getting 40 a week like everyone else, but it seems like I suffer on what they plan for me, because I can cover for someone.

 

Flip, how much would you value the kitchen b****h as an employee?

post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by IGMCW View Post

 

You need to be in a kitchen surrounded by cooks with more knowledge and skill, then shut up, put your head down, be humble and learn.

I promise you, if everyone else in the kitchen are a bunch of bad-ass culinarian's, you wouldn't dare being late, because all you want is to work your ass off and earn their respect.

 

In regards to the kitchen atmosphere you have described. It's good that you have seen this. A disorganized kitchen full of goof offs drunks and stoners. Now you know what NOT to be a part of. Cut and run! If what you say is true, this is not the place to spend your formative years...Beg an plead at the best restaurant in town for an opportunity to work in the prep kitchen and work your way up.  I always believed it was better to have the worst job at the best place in town than the best job at the worst. I have never regretted those decision. Sure, you won't make much money starting out but if your passionate than you will understand that your being paid in experience. Knowledge and experience make it possible for you to make a HELL of a lot more money down the line.

Good luck to you buddy!

This advice is golden! You sound passionate about learning so get somewhere where you can be in the proper atmosphere to absorb all the knowledge possible. Your chef is not going to change his ways for you so you need a better chef to learn under and when you have filled your cup there its time to move on. At your age there is no limit to what you can accomplish but you must not associate with the bad work habits some chefs allow in there kitchens. A well run kitchen is a great place to work and you will feel the instant gratification which we receive with a job well done.

Good luck...................

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 #17 of 29

The only reason I asked your age is that your 21. You have at least 9 years of time where you can be a sponge for knowledge. Use it to your advantage. If it isn't working out go somewhere else. You greatest asset right now is that you are young.
 

post #18 of 29

Respectfully disagree, I'm 70 and still have 10-20 years left for learning lol.gif

 

No one should EVER quit learning, IMHO, if you do quit learning, you may as well quit living!

Quote:
Originally Posted by solsen1985 View Post

The only reason I asked your age is that your 21. You have at least 9 years of time where you can be a sponge for knowledge. Use it to your advantage. If it isn't working out go somewhere else. You greatest asset right now is that you are young.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #19 of 29

True that....and also what my granddad always used to tell me:

 

"Old age and treachery shall overcome youth and skill. " biggrin.gif

post #20 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

Respectfully disagree, I'm 70 and still have 10-20 years left for learning lol.gif

 

No one should EVER quit learning, IMHO, if you do quit learning, you may as well quit living!

 

I think what he was getting at is that as I'm 21 I don't have any real commitments (mortgage, kids, wife etc) so I can really focus on learning. Even if thats taking a wage cut or whatever. 

 

There are a few Michelin star kitchens in my area, I'm going to apply to them, but I don't think my chances are very good. I've written out my CV and I've got a list of other places that I'm going to apply to, that I hold a little more hope for getting answers from.

post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdm magic View Post

 

21

 

I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but I'm talking the times I've been late by 5-10 minutes. Not like two hours or something, usually because I rely on public transport and its unreliable. I always contact someone to let them know. I understand its unacceptable, and thats why I always aim to get there 30 mins early, so even if I'm 'late' I'm still on time.

Also, I'm not trying to make excuses but compared to my co-workers I am one of the most reliable guys. I didn't mention in the OP, but another of the problems is lack of feedback from the management, and complete lack of punishment in the kitchen. People regularly skip out on shifts, be hours late and just stroll in, hungover and high on drugs. Literally nothing will happen. Maybe I'm not as good as I think - but if no-one is telling me that then how can I improve?

 

The place has a fast turn over - I'm one of the longest serving people there. And please don't call me arrogant, as I said I know I have a huge amount still to learn, but with the restaurant and menu we have, I know it. Ask me to cook something off the top of your head, and I might not be able to, but ask me for something from that menu and I can do it.

 

Oh, and just to say, the guys getting more hours than me are the ones who are late, call in sick etc. They are by no means more reliable or anything than me - I've got it from other people that they are less reliable.

 

Could I get some answers about my problems rather than the lateness please?

grow a thicker skin,dont be late.

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdm magic View Post

know that the transport isn't reliable, that's why I set off an hour early, and generally work 30 minutes for free every day. The fact that sometimes my bus doesn't arrive for 40-50 minutes is something that I can't change, and shame on me but I'm not willing to give the chef more than 30 mins free labour when I feel that its simply not appreciated.

 

I have spoken to my chef a few weeks ago, I asked him what I needed to do better. He told me my work ethic is great, standard of my food is something that he doesn't need to worry about, standard of my prep is good, my uniform is always clean etc, and the only thing I need to worry about is that I'm not too confident. Since he said that I feel like I've become more confident, but the fact is I don't go to work to bust balls and mess about with the guys, I go to work, so talking with everyone isn't high on my priority list.

 

Lauren, I don't mind being called in either - if I was already getting 40 a week like everyone else, but it seems like I suffer on what they plan for me, because I can cover for someone.

 

Flip, how much would you value the kitchen b****h as an employee?

again all i hear is whining.   im this,im that.   you wouldnt last 2 days in my tiny kitchen.   the lion would eat you.,

post #23 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smork View Post

again all i hear is whining.   im this,im that.   you wouldnt last 2 days in my tiny kitchen.   the lion would eat you.,

 

I'm not saying that I'm not whining, but just how long is one supposed to shut up and take it? I certainly feel as though these issues are more than minor issues that can just be put to one side. Part of the reason I posted here was to see if I'm thinking that these problems are just part and parcel of working in a kitchen - as I said, I want some more experienced voices. If I really do just need to grow thicker skin (something which I'm not against doing, and what infact I have been doing. Just taking it) or if these are actual problems that I should seek to fix with my boss.

 

As I've said previously, although maybe in the kitchen(s) you worked at, the lateness would be an issue, it is entirely a non issue in mine. When I had my last appraisal with my chef, I got full marks for my sickness + time keeping. He had a frank and open discussion about my strong and weak points, along with my issues and I have no doubts that if there was a problem with my lateness he would have told me about it. 90% of the time I arrive for my shift before the person who will be running the shift (head or sous).

post #24 of 29
Sir Magic... You had a positive review.
That would have been the perfect time to talk to Chef about getting a few shifts on a designated station.
A few posts back you mentioned Chef's main complaint was your lack of confidence.
You were given a hint that you were lacking a specific trait.
Either you let this fly in one ear and out the other or were feeling a bit arrogant and just blew it off with your "i am indespensible" attitude.
What ever ...you missed your golden egg .
You have asked me what value you would have been to me in your current position.
Everyone that has the responsibility of staffing (and staying at or below budget) must learn to read a crystal ball.
My fave employees were always the ones that would drop everything and come running when they got my call.
No benefits, and the fact that most are willing to pick up their wages in cash from a guy that could be found sitting in the cooler evert Sat nite at midnite.
Edited by flipflopgirl - 3/5/13 at 6:45pm
post #25 of 29
Thread Starter 

I have improved on my confidence, and have been told that I'm 'stepping up'. I'm still working on it, but I've had the problem literally forever - even back in school my reports would say stuff like 'has the ability, but is often held back as he won't talk out in class'.

 

I do still feel as though the other people who are above me have bigger issues than lacking confidence, but whatever.

 

When I had the meeting I raised my issues and was told they would be resolved, and they were, for two weeks I was on the same station, but then it was back to how it was.

 

I may come off with that attitude, but I really don't have it. I know I could be easily replaced, but I feel like they shouldn't want to replace someone who has learnt, above and beyond anything, their kitchen inside out for the sake of a buck or two an hour. I'm sure you can imagine with the other employee problems I've described, the kind of other cooks who are employed there. 

 

And, FWIW, I think I've only ever once said no to going in when they needed me, and I don't think I was in the country when they asked me to. The rest of the time, its always a yes.

post #26 of 29

relax.   go with the flow for a good while.   chill out man.   are you truely batting a 1000 every shift you work?   is every station you work spotless?   could you lick the bottom gasket of the reach in you are most responcible for and live to not tell you did that?    just a few questions i ask myself everyday?   still got time to worry whether the guy 2 stations over is on crack?   i think not.   let the chef worry about that.   you need to hone yourself if you think you can do everything.   if you truely are that sharp you will automatically rise to the top and never have to worry about rank again.  

post #27 of 29

I have read and re-read your posts looking for clues and to be honest I can't come up with much. It is difficult to see situations with an honest unbiased eye on an electronic basis. Your best answers are going to be found at your work place. To get your answers you need to be able to look at the situation as an impartial observer without any emotional or ego driven thoughts popping up, which I will grant you is is not easy to do. Try to look at the situation as the proverbial fly on the wall.

 

It could very easily come down to personality types and their interactions and nothing more. You could easily being nothing wrong and have no areas that you really need to improve upon, it might just be that you and the chef don't exactly mesh as best buds types. I certainly don't need to be friends with the people that I work with, I would rather work with a jerk that knows how to kick ass, than with my best friend that can't get out of his own way, however not everyone thinks like that.

 

I was hired by an owner/chef to run the kitchen at his second place of business. We had known each other professionally for over 10 years. It only took a couple of months to realize that it just wasn't going to ever really work out because he was looking for a mini-me reflection of himself and that wasn't me. After 30 some years of doing this, I feel comfortable that I know what I am doing in a kitchen. After 20 some years of doing this, the owner/chef know his way around a kitchen. Other than change my basic personality to mimic his, nothing I could do would have changed the dynamics that were occurring.

 

I chalked it up to a learning experience and filed the jewels gleaned from this experience into my memory banks so that I could access them later when needed. No harm, no foul, some times it just doesn't mesh.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdm magic View Post

 

I think what he was getting at is that as I'm 21 I don't have any real commitments (mortgage, kids, wife etc) so I can really focus on learning. Even if thats taking a wage cut or whatever. 

 

There are a few Michelin star kitchens in my area, I'm going to apply to them, but I don't think my chances are very good. I've written out my CV and I've got a list of other places that I'm going to apply to, that I hold a little more hope for getting answers from.

 


That's the point I was making. At least the op understood. lol

post #29 of 29

Magic... I am impressed by the way you have taken some harsh words and answered from your gut , without a bunch of lame, immature excuses.

You took those questions, formulated answers and then delivered them in a mature manner.

Reading between the lines, I am pretty sure that your Chef most likely has a schedule full of buffoons and goof offs, probably keeping them on the schedule because they are party buddies.

I even felt your pain when you got a station (all your own) and then got thrown under the bus as soon as your sub par coworker decided to come back to work.

Finish updating your CV and as soon as you have been there long enough that you don't look like a job hopper start dropping them off at all the "best" kitchens in your area (maybe those that you can either walk or bike to ;-)

Let your current Chef know you are looking (bad form it you don't, might be taken as sneaky) and he/she may suddenly "find" a permanent station shift for you.

If he gets pissed and tells you to hit the road, this was not the right kitchen for you anyway.

 

mimi

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