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Line Cook, Being asked to Head a New Kitchen..But SUPER nervous

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I've worked in several casual dining restaurants, and even a couple of country clubs...i started from the bottom as a busser/dish guy around 17 and am now 24. I worked my way through to prep, then the line. I feel pretty confident as far as my future in the industry goes. But at the same time, voiced to my boss (restaurant owner) the i dont feel strong enough to run the kitchen of his new (yet unopened) kitchen, but he told me that i "need to be". so i replied that i would do my very best. I am open to any suggestions and advice on how to be successful at this. I am extremely observant and take direction well, but just feel scared. im gonna push through knowing i wont be fired for not being able to, but i would like to make this work. My concern is that i still have trouble once when in "the weeds", and am mainly looking for advice on how to manage my tickets/ticket times...and especially when things go wrong; i.e. running out of a prepped product, or having sendbacks and flash orders. It throws me off and i struggle to get back on top. To anyone who replies, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy lifestyles to give me some guidance. Thank you very much.

post #2 of 7
Your boss obviously has faith in your abilities, your potential, and sees a future for you in his business. How great is that! Look at yourself in the mirror and see the same things. Let his faith be yours. When you get in the weeds just take a big breath and tell yourself that this too shall pass. Everybody gets thrown off and struggles to get back on top, that is the reason they are called the weeds. Never let them see you sweat. Guests and coworkers are similar to dogs in that they can smell fear. chef.gif
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #3 of 7
im gonna push through knowing i wont be fired for not being able to,


A word of caution here, these sound like famous last words. Personally, I didn't take a head chef job until I knew I was ready. If you're not feeling definitely confident you can do this, it might impact your ability to lead your crew. If you think you can fake it till you make it though, its worth a shot. Its entirely possible that you're being too self-critical to see the ability the owner clearly sees in you. I do the self-critical thing myself. Fortunately my boss will flat out tell me to knock it off and quit beating myself up over small things.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #4 of 7

I'll throw this out there. Your boss has a new unopened restaurant. Get the menu. Study it. Plan everything you can ahead of time. Assist in the setup and pre-opening. 

Once it opens, remain positive but not in denial. Success will come from getting knocked down every day and getting back up to do it again better. Remain mentally in control no matter what the crisis of the moment may be. As you work, think about what could be better organized, what you could have done differently. Then make the necessary adjustments. Keep a notebook handy to write down things. you can't remember it all, all the time. Develop systems and work plans for what needs to be done when busy. Study how the front of the house procedures affect the back of the house operations. Work to make everything more efficient than the day before.  Be more concerned with what you are learning than with what you already know. Keep figuring out how to work smarter. Keep going. 

post #5 of 7

Not clear if by "head new kitchen" you mean "being the chef" or "being the kitchen manager" or "being the head line cook."  Although it sounds like the last one.  I would distinguish those by saying manager would include things like setting schedules and ordering product, and chef would include all that plus managing/planning the menu.  But you are asking about managing ticket times, which is more head line cook;  you'd have some far more serious things to consider if you were running the kitchen and/or the menu...


In any event, as far as running the wheel/managing the kitchen:


remain calm, always.  If you let panic set in then thats when things fall apart.  If need be, step back for a second, catch your breath, and get reorganized.  If you lose it and start running around trying to do too much, thats when big mistakes happen...something gets knocked into the floor, someone gets hurt, etc..  Also, don't let running out of something phase you.  It happens.  86 it if need be.  You should have an 86/low count board...if anything is getting low, put a count on it:  "Ribeye x4" "Salmon x1" "Lamb x0" etc..  Make sure its someplace the servers can see it everytime they come into the kitchen, and let them know any changes that take place.  If you run out of something in the middle of a busy service, don't try to be a hero and prep it if it can't be done.  Better to not serve it and let everything else work smooth than sabotage the whole kitchen just to get one item back on for the night.


be confident.  That is YOUR LINE.  You freaking own it.  Act like it.  Don't be a prick about it or anything, but you definitely should feel like you belong there, more than anybody else in the world.  "This is MY house."  Walking onto your line should feel like walking through the front door of your home, you should feel comfortable and confident and in control.  Lose that feeling and its much easier to fall into panic.


Know everything there is to know about your kitchen.  This will naturally come with time of course, but you should actively try to know and understand everything that goes on in there.  Where everything is...why everything is where it is...how to prepare everything properly...what set up/mise is needed for each station, etc..  You should be able to step onto any station and work it with ease.  That helps with being confident.


Stay organized.  Write stuff down.  Keep what you write down organized.  


Study.  Learn.  Read.  You obviously have access to the internet, so any and everything about working in a kitchen and cooking can be found.  There are thousands of videos showing how to prepare everything food item in the world.  There are some very excellent books available on working in and managing professional kitchens.  I would suggest "The Professional Chef" and "Professional Cooking" for starters.  If you need to do menu planning those books will help with that, too.

post #6 of 7
If you're going to do it throw doubt out the window. There isn't time for that. The only question I would ask you is do you feel you've reached that level. Do you feel you could learn even more let's say until you were 30. How prepared would you be when you reached 30? As compared to 24? How about 29? 28? If this is a lifelong journey for you do you want to learn as much as possible before taking on major responsibility and having to train and be in charge of people that may be older than you are? Are you chasing money? Are you chasing your dream? These are the questions I've asked myself in the past. For me, I could've taken a Kitchen Manager position when I was your age. Looking back, I feel it would've capped my own personal growth and understanding. I don't know your situation. Maybe you need the money. I understand that completely. Just remember when you walk through some doors, other doors close. Good luck my friend.
post #7 of 7

Hey my three cents get a book on supervision and training this with your knowledge of being in the weeds will go far. remember to study costs as edible portions will mean profit or loss.Food math and accounting book too. Find a good use for trim/fat etc. Good Luck!!

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