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What am I constantly doing wrong???! HELP!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

I have owned a sucessful bistro/wine bar for 14 years. We have within the last 6 months moved to a larger location.( not out of greed, or a big head, our other location was no longer) Great new location, still have our faithful great following. Still some key front of the house people. We have a new chef and sous and a few new line cooks.

My problem is everytime I hire new people. They want to change what we are known for. We are known for eclectic french cuisine. It has worked, we have a range and play around that. I just keep hiring these people, who say they are excitted about what we do. But, the minute they are hired...I see the evil vegetarian crap( sorry don't mean to dis veggies-just we dont do that) and hummus creep out. 

I am not a working owner who is full of themselves. I don't know everything. Infact, as I get older I realize more what I don't know. But, I am adamant we do not prepare this type of food. My approach is to be respectful to everyone and explain my reasoning with proof in sales, proof in reviews. Our client base does not like this and does not want this.

How do I get through to these 20 year olds that his isn't going to keep them employed and isnt going to keep me in business? I am ready to fire them.

Any thoughts???

post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by moogalah View Post

How do I get through to these 20 year olds that his isn't going to keep them employed and isnt going to keep me in business? I am ready to fire them.

Any thoughts???


Tell them just that. Tell them exactly what you want on your menu and for specials. It wouldn't make sense for me, as a chef specializing in peruvian cuisine, to have hummus as a special (or even anything vegetarian) and it doesn't make sense for your concept either. Tell them that. Sometimes you have to show your bad side in this business. If you don't, then some cooks have the "anything goes" attitude. And that attitude isn't good for any kind of restaurant.  

post #3 of 21

I've seen this very thing lots of times. Young chefs hire on to an established restaurant and immediately want to start asserting their "vision" and making a name for themselves on YOUR nickel. What many fail to realize that the restaurant business is not just about the food. While good food is a must, it's not the only necessity to success. Creating an understandable identity and knowing your market niche are also key. The menu must reinforce your established brand and directly relate to your established market.

Unfortunately, little of this is taught in culinary school and young chefs have a hard time grasping the bigger picture and how all the pieces fit together.

 

That being said, it's never a bad idea to offer one or two choices for the vegetarian guest as long as it cohesively fits your established brand. Invariably, your loyal guests will have a vegetarian guest or relative they'll want to enjoy a meal with at YOUR establishment. If there is no option for them at all, they'll go somewhere else where everyone in the party can be accommodated. Don't you want that to be your place?

Vegetarian is one of the largest growth areas in the food service industry. 

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting going all hummus and crunchy granola at all. Vegetarians and vegans go crazy for de puy lentil dishes which also pairs beautifully with saucisson a'lail. I'm sure there's a way to add a terrific vegetarian dish without straying outside of your established culinary profile. 

 

Good luck and keep those guys in line. ;)

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post #4 of 21

Come on, I'm the Chef, my menu,my way.

post #5 of 21

Well fire them! Then stop hiring 20 year olds. If it's a money thing you are going to have to take your chances.

 

As a chef, With 25+ years of experience I wouldn't take a position without creative control of the menu. But that's me and you're not hiring me. Seriously even when I do I implement/design the menu around what works for the establishment, while adhering to my vision of the menu.

 

You're not apt to get that kind of experience with 20 year olds. You may get lucky or find the odd one out, but by and large the kind of flexibility I'm talking about is learned over time. 

 

I hope that helps. In the meantime - put your foot down - THIS IS HOW THE MENU IS GOING TO BE! etc.

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JR Brooks View Post

Come on, I'm the Chef, my menu,my way.

That's fine if you are a chef/owner. However, the OP clearly stated that he is NOT a working chef, but the owner of an expanded restaurant with a loyal following. Clearly, he/she is doing something right and clearly understands his concept and clientele.

 

The trick for the owner is to clearly communicate the nature of the concept, the clientele and the market niche during the process of interviewing and hiring chefs. Twenty y/o chefs have a lot going for them-energy, enthusiasm, dedication to craft. What they do not have yet is practice and a deep understanding of food marketing (which is not advertising BTW), concept development and big picture strategy. I've known plenty of experienced chefs that either can't or won't pay attention to the strategic needs of the big picture.

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post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JR Brooks View Post

Come on, I'm the Chef, my menu,my way.

Fine, then pay yourself. Even when it is your menu, your way.... the customers still have the final say because if they don't come in...see first part of post.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moogalah View Post
.

How do I get through to these 20 year olds that his isn't going to keep them employed and isnt going to keep me in business? I am ready to fire them.

Any thoughts???

There is no point trying to teach a pig to sing. All it will do is annoy the pig and frustrate you. I can relate to the twenty something year old chefs though as I still, even after all these years, have creative demons running around in my head demanding to be let out.

 

Explain it. Outline the personal consequences of deviating from it. Stand firm on it. Fire if not followed.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #8 of 21

Omg i hate most people these days, people are wussies these days it's like even in my college class they are fussy about even picking up and cutting a chicken breast and at the start of the course we got 1 girl quitting because she kept saying she ain't doing it and the others at the start kept fussing about even weighing out mince meat just because it's a little squishy to start with, i would advice to put in the add that you are looking for workers who are commit ed to the job and can provide a great service to the business and that you are looking for workers who can follow instructions properly at all times, be very clear with what you want in the add because a lot of companies are not that clear but get every detail in there and explain a little bit about what type of foods they will be preparing from chopping and cooking raw meats and whatever else you feel appropriate to put in there, make it totally straight to the point so you can aim at people who will do the proper job for you, i know if i lived near you i would do everything you ask of me because i am not fussy like that and i completely understand that you can't always add new meals to the menu all the time, i know it does get a little boring making the same meals but that is just part of having a set menu and i think these people would find it very hard to keep a job in cooking if they are so fussy like that and i just don't think they understand properly that every place they go to will have a set menu, if they really loved to cook they would not be that bothered Explain to them it coasts you money too to keep changing the menu like that and the fact is you make eclectic french cuisine it's a place for french food, i just don't understand why people think a french restaurant would make food from different types of places, French restaurant means french food, i don't know what people expect these days but for sure far too much of others they need to lower their expectations. I just find it so worrying these days how people can't understand the most simple things, the poor sods have been ground down that much they don't even wanna try that much no more and i know how that feels.

post #9 of 21
This seems like a common occurrence. When I got hired at an Italian restaurant, they told me straight out that students and younger staff like to change the menu. I don't get why people do that. It's not my menu and the food is good so why change something that's working. That's exactly what I told my chef. I stay humble and do my job and soak up the experience. I'm sorry for all the chefs that have to deal with this.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
 Omg i hate most people these days, people are wussies these days it's like even in my college class they are fussy about even picking up and cutting a chicken breast and at the start of the course we got 1 girl quitting because she kept saying she ain't doing it and the others at the start kept fussing about even weighing out mince meat just because it's a little squishy to start with, i would advice to put in the add that you are looking for workers who are commit ed to the job and can provide a great service to the business and that you are looking for workers who can follow instructions properly at all times, be very clear with what you want in the add because a lot of companies are not that clear but get every detail in there and explain a little bit about what type of foods they will be preparing from chopping and cooking raw meats and whatever else you feel appropriate to put in there, make it totally straight to the point so you can aim at people who will do the proper job for you, i know if i lived near you i would do everything you ask of me because i am not fussy like that and i completely understand that you can't always add new meals to the menu all the time, i know it does get a little boring making the same meals but that is just part of having a set menu and i think these people would find it very hard to keep a job in cooking if they are so fussy like that and i just don't think they understand properly that every place they go to will have a set menu, if they really loved to cook they would not be that bothered Explain to them it coasts you money too to keep changing the menu like that and the fact is you make eclectic french cuisine it's a place for french food, i just don't understand why people think a french restaurant would make food from different types of places, French restaurant means french food, i don't know what people expect these days but for sure far too much of others they need to lower their expectations. I just find it so worrying these days how people can't understand the most simple things, the poor sods have been ground down that much they don't even wanna try that much no more and i know how that feels.

I find it worrying that anyone thinks this relates to the OP or makes any sense at all 

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post #11 of 21

I tried to read it all and had to stop after the first half because I was out of breath.

post #12 of 21

hi just read this then reread dont understand isnt your chef in control of training your new staff instructing them in the art of your bistro when i enter a kitchen chef always gives a menu and most times detailed instructions on how to create his dishes usually down to the garnish n plate design these young hot shots commin outta culinay arts schools i love there drive there full of life n vigor tap into it but keep em in check ide be having a conversation with either chef if u have one or the kitchen manager This shouldnt even be an issue

post #13 of 21

Gotta sift through a lot of dirt to find gold.

post #14 of 21

Definitely and i;m heading for gold lol

post #15 of 21

I thought that the sole purpose of working for an established chef/restaurant WAS to follow their procedures and standard recipes.  I hope I find someone like you to gain my experience with.  All I need is a fair employer who will give me the opportunity to demonstrate my passion for the culinary arts and respect for what works.

 

Even though I'm a student in my final weeks before graduation, I've been cooking for over 40 years and can appreciate respect.  I sincerely hope you find a good chef soon and I would not suffer fools any longer.  Your business is what's important, not a recent culinary school graduate who thinks he/she can cook now because they've learned a few basics.  

 

If you have to have a recent graduate, find someone who is my age and knows how to respect your business.  Us older students are there and have more patience and some of us are even comparable in speed to the young' uns.  I know the chef who hires me will get his money's worth at least for a few years, and then I'm on my own to become a private/personal chef.  The kids in my school drive me bonkers most times, because they work in a fast food restaurant with a grill.  One even tried to show me how to serve a scoop of rice!  I ignore her...I had to or she would have been wearing that rice.  The sooner I gradulate and the sooner I'm in a solo kitchen, the better!  No more prima donnas.

 

Peace

post #16 of 21

First. Get a chair sit down and read all the suggestions.

       Two I congradulate you on running  a succesful operation for so long.

      Third I detect a Mr. nice guy about you, but you can;t always be like that.  YOU ARE THE OWNER AND THE BOSS the buck stops with you..         You are the one who stands to lose the most, They can all go and get other jobs, you can't simply walk out and get another place. You have a proven and succesful track record don't let them ruin it. Sit the Chef and Sous down and lay the law down. Tell them you really appreciate their input, but as the sayin goes "If it aint broke don't fix it'' Any and all changes must go through and be approved by only you. You and your proven repeat customers don't want vegy or vegan or lo fat or whatever.  If you have a special request from 1 0r 2 customers prior,  sure do it but not on a menu for all. There are very few really decent French cuisine places left. KEEP IT THAT WAY and good luck to you. EJB

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post #17 of 21

To Mr. Brooks, I suggest you open your own placce with your own  money, that way you can do whatever you would like.

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post #18 of 21

In defense of JR Brooks, he may have been assuming the OP was a chef/owner, who was having trouble with his sub-ordinates making food he didn't want. He may be telling the OP that he's the chef, its his way or nothing. I don't think he was saying that if he worked for the OP he would say "my way." 

 

I suggest you lay down the law. No need to be a jerk, just tell them in no uncertain terms that you have an established style. Their creativity is welcome to flourish inside a set of rules, but don't go overboard. Have them talk over new items or specials with you so you can see if they fit the concept. 

post #19 of 21

Your money, your call. 

post #20 of 21
With a core menu get the new younger chefs to work on the classics and then set them tasks to come up with similar ideas based on the core. I currently work in 2 rosette restaurant having never done this before with 20+ years under my belt it's been a very steep learning curve but I'm finally get to grips with it with guide nic from my head chef and a hell of a lot of homework.

Get them to look at other places with the food influence that you aspire to, tell them what you want from them and let them know it's French not Greek that's what's required of them and if not don't let the door hot you on the way out!
post #21 of 21

 Living and working in France  gives me a little insight to your problem.

1. The use of the word Eclectic- modern French cuisine, certainly here in the southern Languedoc,, includes North African influenced flavours, such as Hummus, the use of pomegrantes, kaffir lime, it also includes  Indochinese cuisine from the days of the colonial French empire in SE Asia.  I think IMHO that what you are looking for is modern REGIONAL French cuisine, with influences from all over France.  That still gives a lot of Latitude and  creativity to the Chef de Cuisine, while remaining firmly in the French Terroir.

2. I assume- and I might be wrong- from your post that your Chef de Cuisine is 20 something years of age? unless they are very very special someone of that age will not have the knowledge bank and experience to fully understand  the French Terroir and its various cuisines.

 3. What you are really using as a concept is modern Classical French Cuisine, and that cuisine has changed a lot in the last 15 to 20 years, it includes now a large range of vegetarian dishes, and much less butter and cream than in years gone by, the flourless veloute is very common now.

IMHO the issue is in - to a new young chef- how you describe your cuisine, because I would certainly include veggie dishes and north african dishes, along with vietnamese and congolese influences to be part of an eclectic modern French cuisine. If you want to give your Chef de Cuisine and the Sous Chef some inspiration look to menus by Raymond Blanc, Michel Roux Jr,  and Marcus Wareing.

 Hope this helps,

 If this does help and you need some more inspiration I can send you some menus from the best  restaurants around here, just Pm me.

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