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First Time Sous Chef..... I need advice!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 



I'm a 21 year old female line cook and I received a promotion about a month ago as one of the Sous Chefs at my work.


This came as a surprise because I happen to be the youngest in the kitchen out of 10, majority of them 26 year olds, all of them men.


This also came with the responsibility to be in charge and run the kitchen while the head chef is gone on Thursday nights. This is a big responsibility because on Thursday nights, the theater next door has special events and our dinner rush can be insane.


The other night, and consistently for the last month, these Thursdays have not gone as smooth for me as I thought. I've been running around trying to coordinate between stations while plating and picking up dishes here and there to help the guy get out of the weeds.


I started to become increasingly upset the more behind we became and the longer the ticket times became.


At first I thought I was failing at my job. This didn't help with the stress of the situation.


I asked for the help of my older, male sous chef.


I stayed off the clock one day to watch how he ran the evenings and see if I could pick up a few things that I haven't been doing properly.


He (seriously) didn't do anything different than what I did. They gave him proper call backs and listened to everything he said.


Here is where I need advice:


I hate to throw out the SEXUALITY card but could it be that I'm a girl that these guys have a problem with me?


Could it be they're purposely moving slow just to kill me off?


Am I just trying too hard?


How can I get these guys to listen and show respect to me? Do I deserve their respect?

post #2 of 6

I'm sure youll get some pretty experienced opinions in here....

the way I see it, first, so long as you didn't close any doors by asking for help and

observing someone else doing it, that accomplished two things:

A) You know now it's not just you, that anyone not used to that position has as much

trouble as you do, and

B) the (guy) you asked to do it (and the others as well) can also now see that properly

executing those duties has nothing to with your gender, (whether they'd suspected that or not) .


That said, its possible one or some of them have a girl-in-charge problem, or think they do...

the only thing that will prove that false to both them AND you is time. I think its too premature

to point to causes of a problem that may or may not yet exist--you're pretty much in training

for allow yourself time to GET trained for it.

If it turns out they really are trying to sabotage you, then that's a not-working-as-a-team

problem, and you'll have to address that one down the road at some point.


And for the meantime, have faith in your Chef's faith in you in the first place--that he felt you can

handle the position when he's not there. If you're not ready to trust in you, then trust in that.

post #3 of 6

Your gender may have something to do with the issues that you are experiencing. Your gender may not have anything to do with the issues that you are experiencing.


I would imagine the core of the issues is not your gender, but rather your newness in the position. The crew is testing the boundaries, as people have a tendency to do.


Do your part to make sure that gender doesn't enter into the equation by becoming a boss. This doesn't mean you have to be a kitchen hitler, which never works well in the long run anyway.


Pull each member of the crew aside for a private talk. If they are part of the problem, let them know that their performance is less than satisfactory. Ask them what you can do to help them operate at a higher level of performance because the current level is unacceptable. Engage them in some give and take conversation about ways to change the current situation. At the conclusion, give them a time frame after which you will sit down with them again and evaluate their performance to measure their progress and ascertain if it is at an acceptable level.


Be friendly with the crew, but don't be their friend. Be firm. Make sure your boundaries and expectations are clearly understood by the crew. Be consistent.


Congratulations on the promotion! As Meezenplaz pointed out, your chef believes in you. You were put in the position for a reason, so have at it!

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #4 of 6
You were made Sous Chef for a reason ....either the older guys couldn't or didn't want to accept the extra responsibility.I think the key to the problem is that you say you become more upset as the bill times get sounds like these guys need guidance and you getting upset throws them off.Make sure their prep is done and treat all orders leading up to the rush as urgent to keep them at a good pace.Try not to treat it as a gender issue.......if you make it seem like it's a boy vs. girl situation it could become a self fulfilling prophecy Girlygirl1324.
post #5 of 6

Just curious - what is general composition of the theatre rush?

post #6 of 6

In my own experience being promoted within a company from a line cook to a chef can be a very difficult process I went through it myself. I'm male 28 and been in the industry for over a decade already. When I went from cook to chef the difficulty came from being a peer and a friend to the cooks to being their boss. People can often have a lack of respect for co-workers who turn boss. What you have to remember is that they see you as a cook and they've most likely all seen you screw up, be overwhelmed, have bad days and generally just be human. The thought process really is "how can she be a chef I remember when she........................" What you need to do is turn that into your best quality remind them that you understand their job that you know you make mistakes and that they will to and as long as you work as a team you won't be in the weeds. Let them know you're in charge now but do in a way that makes you human.
They'll never accept you as the flawless chef so you have to be the first among peers with them. Eventually when you go into a new place as a Sous from the start it will be easier. You obviously can cook that's why you were promoted now it's time to learn to be a leader and how to make people work for you. This will be the hardest year of your culinary career and it's rough, but remember 50% of cooks never make it that far and you've done it at a very young age. Congratulations you should be very proud!!!

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