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Culinary diffences with the Executive Chef

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have been working for a short amount of time as the Executive Pastry Chef for an upscale fine dining restaurant. I am having an issue with my Executive Chef and am wondering if it is something commonplace or not. This is not something that I have ever had happen before. that being said here goes....

I was hired as the Pastry Chef, but the Executive Chef won't allow me to add to or change anything on the menu. If it does get changed it is because he saw something on the internet and wants to give it a try. I do not have an evening dessert person for service. It is done by the barely non english speaking garde manger person. That being said he rarely plates or serves it the way I show him as the Chef comes along behind me and changes it, to look "rustic". The bread pudding is done in aluminum cups and set in the middle of a bowl, with whipped cream and some apples dumped on top. Any dessert must be able to be in a cooler and just brought out heated up and set on a plate. He likes to put his desserts in cast iron pans so they look "rusltic" but when I showed him that the egg custard was picking up a black discoloration due to the cast iron, I must be doing something wrong. He wonders why people aren't ordering desserts, yet he wont let me address the root problem. I can fix it if he will just let me do my job. Therein lies the problem. He is so controlling that he wont let me do my job. He has an idea for a dessert and tells me how he thinks it should be done, and when I do it his way it fails. Then I am accused of not knowing my job. When I make the dessert the "pastry trained" way. It will work perfectly, in the mean time, I make brownies, bread pudding and cookies for desserts. With the occasional pie, if he thinks it will sell.

 

Any suggestions on how to work with him and increase the dessert menu? The GM is his best friend so going to him will not work. I don't really want to go over his head. The Exec Sous chef agrees with some of my ideas but will not address the issue with chef for fear of creating additional problems. I am not proud of the work I do there, as it is bland and boring. I cannot use my own recipes, just the chefs.

 

Finding another job would be the logical thing to do, but pastry chef positions are few and far between. Is this common for Executive Chefs to do this? I have worked with many but never one who was this confining. When I applied for this job and cooked for him he loved the desserts and said they would be great, but I can't use them. When asked he said they would not be appropriate and too intricate for the evening crew to plate up.  Any suggestions would be helpful.

 

Meanwhile, I show him new possibilities for the dessert menu in hopes he will like one.

 

Thanks,

 

Robin

Robin
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Robin
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post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

No one has any ideas? Suggestions?

Robin
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Robin
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post #3 of 10

I guess it all depends on what was negotiated before you were hired.  If nothing in regards to creative choice or plating was negotiated, then the "Default" goes to the Chef.

 

Gazing into my crystal ball (all right, it's a 60 watt light bulb...) I see/forecast the following scenario about to happen very soon:

 

-G.M. does the payroll, finds it a bit too much, goes back and does a calculation or two, and decides that the pastry dept isn't worth the amount of  money it receives. (THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT, AND DON'T TAKE IT PERSONALLY, O.K.?)

 

-G.M. kicks the ball over to the Chef and tells him to either cut costs or improve sales, but whatever he does, it has to be done fast.

 

-Chef can't stand the idea of taking responsibility of crappy dessert sales, so he turfs the pastry guy out and gives the garde manger guy a few more shifts, and thumbs through a few glossy cooking mags or the TV for "new, rustic ideas".

 

I hope, for your sake, my crystal ball is wrong, but I'd start pounding out the resumes....

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 10

I would say to change your hours to where you work dinner shift so that you can hopefully better control what happens with the desserts. Also this will free you up during the day so that you can start looking for another position, because basically that is my advice.

 

I have worked for micro-managers before and it is like, why did you bother to hire me? Needlessly to say, I didn't stay at any those positions very long.

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 #5 of 10

I agree with foodpump, if you dont start putting some resumes out yourself , you may be putting some out by default. 

 

Your chef though with all this rustic sh*t sounds annoying IMO. 

Rustic to me is something natural, trying to plate something making it rustic, to me always gives out the idea that you are trying to hard lol. 

 

Regardless of that, the pastry menu as you listed cookies, occasional pies, brownies and bread puddings doesnt sound the least bit interesting or exciting (i dont know your restaurants concept or theme just my perspective by what i am visualizing). What are your reasons for hanging around at this place?

 

To me the idea behind the pastry chef in many cases can be to develop desserts to add to a menu, as well as change the flow of the pastries being served and made. The Pastry chef to me in many cases is next in rank after sous...

 

Im sure in a matter of weeks, chef may notice a decrease in dessert sales. As food pump stated not your fault. Thats when you either tell the chef to let you take control of your station and attempt some new things, tweek some stuff, etc.... since you may just be qualified to do so. 

If things dont change , might as well leave, regardless you may be given the boot, as he gives the GM some extra shifts. 

 

Start looking around for new jobs...

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 #6 of 10

Micromanage......how I hate the word.

So you were hired as a Pastry Chef and you work FOR the Chef.

Your opinion, however it may be as professional as you say, does not matter here.

It is your place to offer suggestions but that's it.

He's Chef. He calls the shots right or wrong in your opinion..

Do your job and look for a new one if you don't like it there.

Perhaps he's jealous.

post #7 of 10

As a chef I am a hands off manager. i tell my sous and pastry what i am after and it is up to them to pull it off. But.. you don't work for me.

 

As a cook I have experienced chefs like you describe. Sadly, they don't really change. I realize how hard pastry positions are to come by. For that reason you had better start getting the resumes out there. I honestly do not see you lasting there.

 

The good news is now you know what kind of chef to avoid. During the interview process make certain to ask the tough questions - it goes both ways. Ask what kind of manager he/she is. Be certain, go in and stage for a night, ideally on a very busy night. A person can lie or twist the facts in an interview but if you are an ass it's probably going to come out during service.

 

Lastly, sometimes people just don't gel. It's a part of life, and you should be happy about that. What a boring place it would be if we were all the same.

 

I wish you lots of luck.

post #8 of 10

There are ways to work with people.  You have to figure it out.  If he wants cast iron, perhaps try one of those biscuit cobbler things in there.  If he wants rustic, find a dessert that's naturally rustic.  If he wants apples dumped over stuff, perhaps, well... hmm.

 

But fact of the matter is there are ways to work with people.  Chef is probably trying to figure you out as well.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have since been working with a catering company, and have the freedom to be creative, as well as to have my experience and abilities taken seriously. I did not think that a catering company (albeit small) would offer me the kind of freedom I thought I could get in a restaurant setting. The company is small but growing and my addition brings an addition of wedding cakes, where they previously had to subcontract out, and actually get to and the opportunity to be in direct contact with the customers to give them what they want. It is very satisfying to get to know the customers by name and see a smile when I see them.

Robin
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Robin
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post #10 of 10
Wow! Nice follow up. Good to hear!
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