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A Guide to Avoid Horrible Jobs (Hopefully)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

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.

post #2 of 12

I always look at the interview process as a two way street. I am interviewing them as much or more than they are interviewing me. I have learned to trust my gut and pay attention to any red flags that arise. Emotions, such as joy ( at potentially finding a job ), should be left out of the equation. It is always best to look at the situation in an analytical manner and weigh the pros and cons the same as going over a business financial statement.

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 #3 of 12

Mayhem , you remind me of my chef XD. 

She also put up her notice and she will be leaving in August. So sad to lose her but life in the kitchen will continue. 

Seeing you speak reminds me of her in the kitchen 99% of what you said she tells us in a daily basis. 

 

The owner of our restaurant sucks and has no knowledge of cooking ( which is why we dont work for stupid people ). 

Even though she is leaving , ill admit i dont really give much of a damn for the restaurant i work at since ill be leaving in late november too , im just there to not be an a** and leave after the head chef leaves. 

But the most positive thing i can say , is that she taught me as much as possible in 4 months then any other chef that has , so ill gladly thank her for that. 

 

Now i would love to contribute a few things that i just thought of. 

 

If the owner of the restaurant is not the chef , then pay attention to a few things:

 

If he is young . by young i mean 26 and under ( mine is 24 ) RUN , they may know absolutely nothing especially if he wasnt trained in culinary arts , in my case he is 24 and graduated to be a zootechnician. 

If the boss knows little of upscale cuisine and you know alot more then its a lost cause in my opinion. 

If fresh products from suppliers never get delivered on time , and you end up having to be patient and wait for them to be delivered , then thats messed up. Worst thing that happened yesterday was when we needed tomatoes in the kitchen for a late event and we ran out of tomatoes ( obviously this was informed days ago ) , when the tomatoes were being delivered the restaurant owner was no-where to be found , and the delivery man had to wait outside for 30 minutes until our boss decides to come back telling us he had to take a trip to the supermarket..... WHY DIDNT HE JUST BUY THE TOMATOES THERE THEN. 

 

I swear i dont know how i deal with it sometimes , and its tempting to smack my boss around a few times , but i stay calm.

Regardless of all the sh*t that happened these past few months , my goal was to be mentored by a great chef and learn more about the kitchen , so that was obviously accomplished. Now ill just wait till november and who knows , if a better chef enters the kitchen ill stay a bit longer , if not im already planning to go backpacking over South America for the next year anyway. That and i have done a few interviews to work the line in other restaurants in town ( some paying abit more ) but im going with the flow. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post

I always look at the interview process as a two way street. I am interviewing them as much or more than they are interviewing me. I have learned to trust my gut and pay attention to any red flags that arise. Emotions, such as joy ( at potentially finding a job ), should be left out of the equation. It is always best to look at the situation in an analytical manner and weigh the pros and cons the same as going over a business financial statement.


I interview my prospective employers. Why did the last chef leave? What is your mantra / what is your business' MO/ what is your goal?

 

As an interviewer, I actually prefer a bit of emotion. A persons emotions will eventually be a boon or a hindrance.

That is to say, I'm looking more for a good fit. Emotions and character equate.

 

If you're the new guy and I'm making a joke with you -and only you, you should feel priveledged.

You're welcome for trying to make you feel comfortable.

 

This reeks of high school.

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by left4bread View Post

As an interviewer, I actually prefer a bit of emotion. A persons emotions will eventually be a boon or a hindrance.

That is to say, I'm looking more for a good fit. Emotions and character equate.

 

I guess i didn't word my thoughts as well as I could have. I didn't mean to leave emotions out of an interview, what I was trying to say about emotions was that I try to leave them out of the equation when deciding whether to take a job or not.

 

I guess that I have been out of high school far too long because I totally missed the point of your last line. LOL lol.gif


Edited by cheflayne - 7/7/13 at 4:00pm
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 #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by left4bread View Post

This reeks of high school.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiqueKuisine View Post

Mayhem , you remind me of my chef XD. 

She also put up her notice and she will be leaving in August. So sad to lose her but life in the kitchen will continue. 

Seeing you speak reminds me of her in the kitchen 99% of what you said she tells us in a daily basis. 

 

Wow- thank you KK, that sincerely means a lot.  And issues with produce delivery- I am right there with you.  The tiny fetid excuse for a KM I work under shorted my produce on purpose, after I came to him with the concern that since our high season was over, a lot of the onions, peppers, celery, etc, wasn't being used within proper time constraints. 

 

In response to the high school comments- I agree with you.  We wake up at ungodly early hours, whether we want to or not, and spend the entire day with people, that, c'mon, you wouldn't have picked at first to spend that much damn time with.  And we learn, from each other and ourselves, and we share notes, and we make friends.  So yeah, it is a lot like high school.  Except we do this as a life, and the last time I checked, there aren't that many career high schoolers. 

 

If, on the far chance, that the high school analogy was meant as a dismissive insult, then all I can say is I wish I had your job (and I'm aiming for it).  That's exactly the point of my starting this thread, is to share what I've learned from mistakes, and to hopefully start a useful dialogue. 

 

GUTS, enlighten us.  Left4Bread, I am totally capable of laughing at my own stupid jokes.  I actually am privileged enough to have found some early Bill Cosby comedy records, when he was first doing stand up.  I've got the laughing down- on my own time.  I'm good.  What I don't need is some pathetic troglodyte attempting to find a single ally in a newbie when the entire kitchen is against him.  That is not high school- that is letting short bus kids hang out in the advanced classes, as charity. 

post #8 of 12

No problem , and wish you luck on finding a better job. 

Lets just hope you and my chef start taking charge in better kitchens!!

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #9 of 12

Mayhem - Thoughtful post.  Don't be hard on yourself - it can be very hard to judge a place before you really get in working there.  I do COMPLETELY agree with #2 and have seen this to be true on occasion. 

post #10 of 12

Good luck with your new post Mayhem. I agree with left4bread. We should certainly all be interviewing our new employers. 

 

I enjoyed your posts... I like the way you write

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks, you guys.  Jelly, I think it's an occupational muscle memory in our field- the predisposition to be too hard on ourselves.  It's difficult to pull yourself back at times when you spend 10 to 12 hours a day perfecting the tiny little details that hold the big picture together, and remind yourself that you're a person that performs a function, and not the other way round.  Bughut, thank you for the compliment.  I try to write my best voice in these forums, and as I've been warned twice for profanity by moderators, I take the long road around just saying duckduckduckduckduckduckduckDUCK.  The "D", by the way, is pronounced as an "F". 

post #12 of 12

Mayhem......you make good points all.

As you gain more and more experiences, you'll be able to walk in to an interview and handle yourself better.

I enjoy reading a thread when someone says they are interviewing the place as well. As it should be.

 

One way to help yourself when going for an interview is to do some homework about the place.

Are their any online places that describe the place? Are there restaurant critiques of the place to read about?

Do you know anyone who knows anyone that might work there?

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