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Didn't get the promotion, need advice.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, new girl here.


A little background-- I graduated cooking school 2009 and have been working in restaurants in NYC since.  I'm a born and raised New Yorker.  Just recently I quit my job at a well known Williamsburg restaurant.  I worked there for 2 years.  I started as a part time dinner prep cook and moved my way up to the line.  Everyday, I was told I was doing an excellent job, almost all of my specials and desserts sold out the first day, my bosses always told me that I'm great with people, that I hold a high standard and it shows in my food.  However, apparently, that wasn't good enough for them.  The sous chef position opened up, and, since being the only line cook there who has worked all of the positions and has experience with food costs and ordering, I was still denied the position. 


I lost the position to another female cook who is not classically trained, who drank on the job, came in late everyday, who talks to people in a disrespectful manner and most of all, all of the food she cooked lacked flavor and originality. 


So my question is, why her?  I really am confused by the restaurant's decision to promote her instead of me.  But yeah, I quit that job as soon as I heard of her promotion.  Was I wrong to quit so suddenly?  I was furious, I just don't want to work for a company that believes a young, irresponsible drunk is a better fit than someone who comes in early everyday and actually has some talent.  I need input.  Thanks.


Oh also, the managers/owners said that while my work was consistently amazing, I wasn't quite manager material.  That I lacked the "command" --so... What the heck does that even mean or entail?  Do I need to be a jerk in order to be taken seriously?  Also, should I just let future employers just take advantage of the fact that I am a hard worker and I never say no when it comes to covering shifts on the fly and such?  I'm so frustrated. 

post #2 of 11

A. The restaurant did not pass you over, the owner/GM/Chef passed you over.


B. Being skilled at producing does not equate to being skilled to oversee production


C. You are not privy to ALL the factors involved with the promotion, only one of which is the ability to produce product. Not knowing all the facts, I can only speculate as to the other factors. However, I would expect they include:

  • Demonstrated ability to motivate others to perform
  • Demonstrated ability to identify problems and find solutions while maintaining production
  • Demonstrated ability to work with various personality types and create a team effort
  • Demonstrated ability to handle non production aspects of the kitchen, i.e. inventory, waste control, scheduling, etc.
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out direction of superiors
  • Knowledge of laws and regulations affecting the business


And then there are the intangibles:

  • Who is getting paid $x, $y, and why?
  • Who is related to whom and how does that affect operations
  • What are the off the job considerations


It is rare that a decision made in haste, whether out of anger, pique, hurt feelings, or whatever, is the best choice. It may feel good but it can have long term negative results. Looking back, did your decision to quit change anything for the better?


From what you have written, you were not denied the job (I presume you did not ask for the promotion), the owner/GM/Chef chose someone else for reasons known only to them.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

I feel like my consistently good work was being under appreciated and I would benefit from working at a different environment.  Perhaps an environment that isn't as lax as the one I was working at, a place that I will actually learn from, something more competitive. 


I applied for the position.  It was myself, the girl (the one who got promoted) and another line cook applied for the job.  The other line cook was probably the most qualified because he had manager experience and just the most experience in general.  But I am still baffled as to why they chose the inexperienced drunk who doesn't know how to talk to people or manage correctly. 

post #4 of 11

Maybe it was because of her faults they picked her. Maybe she will just do whatever they ask, without questioning it, as you or the other person would have done. Maybe they just wanted someone to say 'yes' to all their ideas. I know that where I work, being good isn't worth jack, whereas being a 'yes man' is worth much more.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Perhaps I am too much of an idealist, but why is it too far fetched to have a kitchen where people actually want to work as a team and mean it?  Why does this environment have to be so cut throat?  It's either really straight forwardly aggressive, or passive and snarky.  Why can't we just have kitchens where cooks just abandon the whole "old school" ways such as sabotaging each other, or being way too competitive? 


In my sous chef application I stated that I would focus on confidence building and use positive reinforcement as a way to get things done and help build the morale.  I also stated that I want to do away with negative vibes amongst co-workers.  Maybe I was way too "hippie" and should have laid off the grass, but still man, I'm so sick of working at kitchens where everyone is yelling at each other and trying to be all macho.  It's soo lame and I'm tired of people using intimidation and manipulation as a way to get what they want.  Am I the only one that thinks this way?

post #6 of 11

Hey welcome to the forum *chef fist bump*


The one thing I've learned since day one of getting a job anywhere... is you have to deal with a lot of politics and behind the scenes drama. Whether you want to play the game and conform is up to you.


Like you at my last job I worked there for two years, and felt the same way. And not even for myself alone; there were many dedicated, hard-working, reliable employees who were simply being used, manipulated, and over-looked. Lazy, irresponsible, brown-nosers were the ones getting recognition, pats on the back, raises, and promotions and it made no sense (in a practical manner). 


I was also been given the 'not manager material' shtick, even though I had the experience from other jobs. Or more accurately... I wasn't 'aggressive' enough. I am assertive when push comes to shove, but you want me to be an @$$ like the other managers are here? My experience, reliability, work ethic, and consistency aren't enough? No thanks...


Like in any kitchen day to day, you have to learn to deal with the bs that happens. We all have to make sacrifices now and then, and depending on your situation you just have to evaluate your goals and priorities, and decide if it's worth it to deal with all the stress. Like if I were being passed up for promotion in say... Pepin's kitchen, I would be fine with that because I'm still working with friggin Pepin! Just sayin ;)


I hope eventually you find a place that recognizes your innate skills and abilities. To offer some words of encouragement: after two years I left the crappiest job experience I've ever had... and just 3 months into my new job, I'm 72 cents short of making what I did when I left my last job, my food and efforts are actually appreciated, and I'm getting the push from all upper management to take over head chef duties in a couple months. If you are truly skilled and talented, under the right situation(s) your abilities will eventually be recognized and rewarded.

Edited by Junglist - 3/20/13 at 12:47am

'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli


'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

post #7 of 11

SlowTigre, your question is as old as humanity. Paraphrased, why did Cain kill Abel?


If one wants to move out of production into management, one HAS to learn management skills and demonstrate they can effectively apply those skills to produce more salable product for less cost.


Remember, a chef, in the classical French sense or the common American terminology (at least according to ME crazy.gif), is a MANAGER!


A chef utilizes:

  • physical resources (the kitchen or section they are assigned to manage)
  • raw materials (food)
  • labor (the people doing the work)


to produce meals that customers will pay enough money to eat so that the physical resources, raw materials, and labor can be paid for and, hopefully, there is a little left over.


Now, admittedly, it is certainly more pleasant to work where everyone is friendly, courteous, and kind as well as always striving to do their jobs in the most efficient and conscientious manner.


The problem is, not everyone is friendly, courteous, and kind and always strive for efficiency! There is always someone who:

  • is constantly late, maybe only a minute or two, maybe 5-10, maybe an hour
  • is constantly slow (they borrow someone else's mise en place, knife, whatever)
  • doesn't care whether the job is done right or not
  • is good at shifting the blame to someone else
  • figures a way to look good is make others look bad
  • the list goes on and on and on and.....


Keep looking, there are dream kitchens to work in, I'm personally familiar with, oh maybe, 2 or three in the USA talker.gif

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #8 of 11

im betting there was a good chance that the leaving sous set up the other lady with the job.   i have quit many times on a decision based on frustration and emotions and not one time did it turn out to be the best decision at the moment.  

post #9 of 11

Another way to look at this could be that that the Chef/owner wants to keep you there in that position simply because having to replace you would be too much of a hassle.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Okay, well thanks for all the advice.  I've landed three interviews since I quit on Sunday.  The first one is today, and the other two are tomorrow.  None of them are for a management position, but I'm going to,  if I get hired at any of these, just keep working my ass off, but I'm not going to be another pushover again.  I guess I've learned my lesson.

post #11 of 11

You should have asked your Chef why, and not left without the truth.  You quit but you didn't grow.  You got tougher, but tougher isn't always better. 

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