I thought it might be useful, for us greener folks, to start a thread of warning signs to look out for when interviewing for a new kitchen to live in. I just put in my notice today (I hate quitting so much- it feels like I've failed) and I tend to try to eek out every last bit of learning out of any situation- regardless of how horrible the situation. It's just how I keep my head straight in this business, and I thought it might be a useful and fun list for everyone.
Here are the things I wish I would have done, and/or paid attention to, during the pre-hire, interview, and staging. These things, in hindsight, possibly would have saved me from the last year of time I spent working with the most toxic kitchen manager I have ever, in over 20 years of working in restaurants (I only started cooking professionally three years ago), had the displeasure of working with. I will say this: If you know what you're doing, and have an genuine insanity of passion for it, I don't care if you're the human incarnation of Cthulhu- I will follow you. I will even stick up for you when us peons are at the bar after work. This was not that.
1) Really pay attention to the questions that they ask during the second interview. I totally stage-fright psych myself out before an interview, that I rush to say "the perfect answer" for whatever question that I've already researched how to answer correctly. DON'T DO THAT. If you have a few minutes with a chef, they will tell you everything you need to know about their kitchen by the questions they ask you. Listen, and don't wait to speak.
2) Just because it's the highest grossing restaurant in town doesn't necessarily mean it's a functional kitchen. If they don't offer a walk-through before hiring you, run. Which leads in to number three...
3) Don't accept a job where you can't stage a shift. Not even if you and the GM's mothers were best friends and you shared a cradle together. I made that up for dramatic contrast, but still. Don't do it. Just say no.
4) If during your first week, the chef attempts to joke around with you- and only you. This means the entire rest of the staff hates him.
4b) If during your first week, you notice the rest of the staff distrusts you, and gives heavy side-eyed glances, because the chef is joking around with you. Run.
5) Listen to your friends. You know, your friends that run awesome bars that you never have time to go, or run sweet ass restaurants that you can't afford to eat at, or grow the straight farm to table produce that you trade for at the farmer's market. Those friends are akin to bartenders- they know everything. And if they make a face when you excitedly tell them about thisawesomenewjob, pay attention to that face.
That's what I've got, so far. As I'm kitchen hunting, any additions to that list from the ChelfTalk braintrust would be very, very much appreciated.