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What is wrong with this situation....when you're a keen student and not learning anything. How to handle?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

I am a keen student and finishing my education next month.

When I started at my current workplace for stage, I was prepared to do ANYTHING for my chef as he has a good history and lots of experience (but no education schoolwise.

He's the rock'n roll type....has all the looks but he's very sensitive and "fragile" in fact.


I am a student with a "mild disability" namely having a hearing loss.

Seems chef finds it kinda hard to handle and is avoiding communication in ways, when he gets a chance.

I learned mostly through doing things and watching others do stuff.

He is not explaining or teaching me anything and currently I find myself kicking my butt to go to work and "just do it".


Have a very good basic knowledge theory and practice wise, classic french kitchen based.

Write own recipes and experiment.

The only thing I get to hear is negative comments while I am doing exactly as told by collegue (who has now moved on) for months.

Never a positive word.

With two new collegues taken in, I see him telling them stuff and teaching (of course I try to snatch anything where I can....) and allowing them to do things I will never find myself doing I think.

Seem to be stuck at plating starters and desserts, aside from cleaning and doing dishes.


It sounds like I am whining but I am just curious, because earlier this week had a very different experience in another kitchen for a day, where they accepted me as I am and made every effort.

I was just part of the crew and felt happier since months, and that was what I thought it would be like.

Not at my workplace.

They have a habit giving negative comments behind the back of other workers too....while everybody I see, is very motivated and commited.


Despite only a few weeks to go, given that I pass my exams, I am wondering whats wrong here and if this is a normal way of treating people although my own intuition says no, and that its kind of discrimination too.

It hurts because on the other hand, I can see through him, sense what he is on to, we seem to be a good match since we do sense when the other needs help.

I am not the kind of person to give up on whatever, chin up and nose in the wind.

But what are your thoughts on this, if what I am asking is clear at all? 

He has often said, if I didn't work up to his expectations then he would have long kicked me out, no problem.

He has not, so far....he knows what I am able to, I come up with dessert ideas and work out recipes which are way behind my level.

And YET.......


Makes me feel uneasy and unwanted in ways because he seems to be avoiding me, leaving me on my own, no help prepping for my exams at all.

Not good for my motivation....except the experience earlier this week...helped a bit to let go.

post #2 of 19
I would find a new job if I were you. Find somewhere that can work with your hearing loss and not against it. Life is too short to keep bad jobs if you don't have to. Especially since it sounds like you won't be learning a heck of a lot there. Keep that job until you have another one set up.
post #3 of 19

Gosh young one----life is to short to work in a negative situation,surrounded by grumpy complainers.


Start looking for a new position---there are many nice people in this world and I believe you are one of them---


You will find a spot where the co-workers have a positive attitude----good luck---Mike-----

post #4 of 19

Ditto , you dont deserve poor treatment at work. 


First i would establish all the pros and cons of working at this place. 

If you arent learning anything , your not happy , your in a bad position , and or questioning wether to go to work , well then its time to move on ( in my opinion ). 

Look for new stages and jobs and dont leave until you have a solid gig somewhere else. 

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



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


post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

thanks for the worded what I was already thinking.

next month its exams and in fact then I am supposed to leave this place.

so already looking for a new place.


had to smile about Mikeswoods, calling me a young one heehee! I am 47....late bloomer...don't feel like that age though.

still am 25....


I have experienced in other places where I volunteered and earlier this week with two other chefs on a fair, that things CAN be different and that there ARE people out there who accept me for what I am: a very motivated and keen cook....

not that I haven't learned anything in this place where I work now, and I find myself lucky to have two younger new collegues who DO work with me no problem.

so in fact, problem lies with our chef...


I will get there, and sure won't give up anything until I find a new job....just love working in the kitchen and enjoy knowing our guests in the restaurant are enjoying our food.

just that idea....thats what I go for....being a line cook (as I am working for the moment) is just COOL. :) 


now off to bed, its morning already, 01 PM and need to start again in the afternoon.

thank you for your warm replies. I needed that. :) 



post #6 of 19

globe trekker just had a famous Vietnamese kitchen in Hue that was staffed completely by deaf mutes (not just hearing impaired). It IS possible to work in a kitchen with a hearing disability, BUT the reason we whistle or hum when rounding a corner, the reason we shout "knife" or "sharp", or "hot" or behind you is for a reason. SAFETY.
You CAN get on in a kitchen with hearing loss, but you must remain extra vigilant and must have the cooperation of your whole team.

As far as only getting negative comments, that is part of our cooking culture. We EXPECT everything to be perfect all the time, the only time we mention stuff is when it doesn't meet expectations. If you want positive feedback, snap a pic and post it on FB when we are looking at our leisure, not when we are slammed or in the weeds.

 Best wishes to you!

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

harrisonh, fact is that I CAN hear and respond to, these things so the problem is not as major a problem as it seems ;)



as for comments, I disagree with you.

its important when you take on students, to give them feedback and now and then positive feedback too.

thats what makes someone grow, knowing that you as a student have done something well.

giving a compliment now and then no matter how small, or just SHOW that you as a chef, appreciate just the fact that your student does come to work every day no matter what, can make a difference.

I teach people too, and always make sure they feel good about what they are doing.

post #8 of 19

It's not an across the board issue but a rare one, you just happen to be in one of the exceptions.


I also have hearing loss, almost completely deaf in my right ear while can hear about 2/3 in my left. I have never had a problem except getting made fun of one time. I said that I couldn't see what the person was saying (because I lip read and he was covering his mouth) and he cracked a joke. No biggie


Don't give up what you love and don't stay in a place where you can't grow because some people are idiots.

post #9 of 19

is it just possible that the chef can see that you are no longer the same extremely motivated person you once were and you have fallen into a rut of sorts and that is why he is no longer trying to show you new things. that happens to quite a few people in this line of work the come in and do the same things day after day in the high stressed environment  that is the professional kitchen and the lose there drive and passion.

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

mark, that is not the case. the problem is about him not being able to handle my hearing disability. (and I don't even hear as bad as some people on here seem to think. its just that it takes some attention) he teaches and shows and talks to , anyone except me. 

only when he is forced to, he HAS to show me things. 

not what you'd expect from a chef.


I know I have talent and am doing things beyond my levels, so I find I deserve to be treated at least same way as others are.

post #11 of 19

You will be moving on soon----I wish you the best of luck in the future---


Remember--caterers are always looking for on call help---the variety of tasks is interesting---finding a high end caterer will offer you the best experience.


Buffet cooking---grilling and other 'show' work is a lot of fun.---the pace can give you a fit---there is a lot of pressure--but the satisfaction is great.


Might be a way to add a new set of skills---------Mike-------------

post #12 of 19

Good luck ,Young One----Kids---sheesh. 

post #13 of 19

I was just about to hit the reply key when it hit me....

You are out the door in a short amt of time so screw him and his fragile, rock n roll self.

He does not deserve to know you OR to teach you.

Agree with Mike....go, fly little bird!

Have a great life...learn all that you can and pass it on to those who may have been in your shoes.



post #14 of 19

Young one---Flip Flop made a huge point---teaching----that is a skill that is rare and under appreciated--


If you possess the ability to teach---to inspire others to learn---think strongly about that as a future pursuit--


I have been training people most of my life---I enjoy it---and am proud when a student gets better than me---yes, that happens once or twice in a lifetime.


Give it a try---see if you are able----now there is a satisfying part of life.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

mike, you are taking the words out of my mouth.

yes its ONE thing to be a chef, but some chefs should not take on students when they cannot teach.

I LOVE to teach and pass on the passion for food and our craft as cooks! I am a good teacher and indeed aiming to get my papers for that next year.

for now I am trying to find a new workplace.

post #16 of 19

I sort of had that one figured out------I like your thinking---Mike---

post #17 of 19

Please explain why you haven't called your mentor aside and asked why he is avoiding you. It may have nothing whatever to do with hearing loss or your competence in his kitchen.

Until you ask him why he's avoiding you, you'll never know.

post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 


my chef is NOT my mentor.

my mentor is someone else, an ex collegue who I became best friends with, and who used to work in kitchens (and was a chef) for 44 years.

he saw my talent in our last workplace and since then we have been meeting and talking.


and I can call my CHEF aside but he will never tell...have tried this on other things before, he seems to have two faces.

meaning, saying different things than he actually thinks/ feels/ should say.  it gives the impression he is feeling uneasy with me. while I am no threat at all but if he would let me, we would be a good match since he hates garde manger work and I love it....

I have had a feeling that I am confronting him with things he does not want to see, but nonetheless since I work there, things have changed for the better without having been talked through (we now have a work schedule, better cleaning, better communication in kitchen)

learning always comes from two sides, not only the students but chefs can learn from their students too.


have considered asking him why he is avoiding communicating with me but on the other hand, I still need him and his cooperation to sign my papers where needed, and use him as a reference. so I am careful in whether to talk about things to step on his toes....

post #19 of 19

I have no desire to be semantically argumentative, but in your chef's kitchen, he is your mentor and he probably expects a level of student deference that you may be not prepared to give him. As one old enough to be your daddy, I can easily attest to having worked with numerous "second career" beginning cooks who brought a less than humble attitude into the workplace. On more than one occasion, I've had to confront a neophyte cook and clearly inform him that my kitchen was not a university and his Ph.D. is journalism was not relevant to his current task.

In the kitchen, it's all about competence and an eagerness to work beyond expectation. Frankly, I think your chef perceives that you are questioning both his ability and status.

The reality is he's your boss with the ability to show you the door at his whim. The fact that he hasn't done so is 100% positive.

Your task is to stop "confronting him with things he does not want to see" (your words) and ask him how to improve your skills in his kitchen.

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