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Food Network makes my job hell. anyone else?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have a very strong belief that if you've never worked in a professional kitchen before, you probably shouldn't own a restaurant. And if you're going to own a restaurant on absolutely no experience, it might be in your best interests to trust the advice of someone (such as your exec. chef) with tons of experience in such a field. Now, that being said, I am the sous chef in an extremely small restaurant. the current owners inherited it after their step mother passed away.they have absolutely no experience in owning and or running restaurants and no cooking experience other than Food Network. Anyone who has ever watched Food Network, especially someone in the foodservice industry, knows that food network is committed to teaching home cooks how to get restaurant quality food at home. The owners of this particular restaurant, like many people who have little or no experience in professional kitchens, believe that cooking for a crowd is as simple as multipling a home recipe. If they see a recipe on FN that they like and then suggest it as a special or menu item, though not condusive to food costs, don't hold at temp. well, etc., and either the head chef or I explain why and suggest alternate recipes, they refuse to listen and still bill them as 'chef's choice' and could not care less what the food looks or tastes like going out. I've even been told before that they don't care about customers, just their money. What do you do when this happens? Note that I can't afford to get a new job right now. Also, I'm not blaming food network, it just seems the farther away from actual cooking they get, the worse it has become
Edited by KadTheCold - 3/30/14 at 3:34pm
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Note that I can't afford to get a new job right now

Actually from what you've said I don't see how you can afford NOT to.

Because it sounds like your place of employment has suddenly become a sinking ship.

I see one of two things happening in the next year; one, they're gonna "wake up" and

start trusting the people who know what they're doing to make the plan, or at least

listen when they're advised against something they WANT to do (like your example)

or two, they're gonna stay stubbornly ignorant, jumping at anything shiny on the FN

whether it will work or not, and the place will inevitably slide down the clapper.

I would suggest you make a determination soon as to if you think they're EVER gonna

listen to you guys....if not, then  it might behoove you to start looking for replacement work

while you're still there....just in case.

post #3 of 15

"I am the sous chef in an extremely small restaurant."

 

An extremely small restaurant is exactly where I'd expect to see some amazing things coming out of the kitchen. 

 

What, specifically, are you having trouble holding at temp?  Maybe we can help.  What's the holdup in such a small place? 

 

Seems odd that they get excited about some kick-a$$ dish they saw on FN, then run it as a special, then don't give a damn how it looks or tastes in the end?   

 

Some specific examples would be helpful.

post #4 of 15

I am very much the same boat as the OP, although in my case the boss has some restaurant experience under his belt, making him all that more dangerous.

I concur with CStanford in that using your knowledge and experience as a base you might be able to make those Food Network recipes work at  your restaurant.

Actually looking at the recipe and doing a little R&D will go along way.

At least take a look at those recipes seriously and see what can be done.  Good luck and by the way....welcome to ChefTalk.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CStanford View Post

"I am the sous chef in an extremely small restaurant."

An extremely small restaurant is exactly where I'd expect to see some amazing things coming out of the kitchen. 

What, specifically, are you having trouble holding at temp?  Maybe we can help.  What's the holdup in such a small place? 

Seems odd that they get excited about some kick-a$$ dish they saw on FN, then run it as a special, then don't give a damn how it looks or tastes in the end?   

Some specific examples would be helpful.

I guess I didn't give enough detail, now that you mention it. One of the main things is, they see a recipe, but don't write any of it down and then try to recount it to us and whatever holes we point out, they fill with ingredients they just pull out of thin air because they can't cook. We did a Portobello sandwich last week. They wanted a glaze, a pesto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese on it. Gave me no indication as to how to cook it, plate it, no side ideas. I said, "do you want it whole or sliced? Like a panini or a burger? Grilled or roasted?" They said, 'on a bun'. "Ok, no problem. But our buns aren't the greatest for that. They are too tough, don't have a lot of flavor, too small. Do you want us to order a different one?" 'Let's work with what we have' no problem. They tell me all the stuff they want on it. Ask my opinion. "I think there's too many strong flavors going on. It might overwhelm the mushroom's flavor. Can I suggest an herbed chevre rather than the provolone and pesto? (We stock this, so no special ordering)" 'That's not how I had it in New York' (i get this all the time, btw. We live in southern MO. People here are very picky about trying 'new' foods. Meat and potatoes are the norm) " ok, we'll stick with that. Now about the glaze?" 'Balsamic reduction' i go to make it and our balsamic, which was kind of old anyway, had a bad smell and tasted even worse. When I tried the reduction anyway at thier request, it was terrible. I told them, they wouldn't taste it but said use it anyway. Needless to say, the three that got ordered were sent back and customers complained like I knew they would. All the owners ever want are things they've seen in other restaurants. I love to get ideas from other chefs, but I would NEVER take another chef's recipe and pass it off as my own. They handed me a print out of a local hotel's reception menu and said we want this as our option so people will come here instead. This hotel is easily 5x bigger than our property, is nationally known, and we are out of the way in a small town. Our location is inconvenient. We are in no way competition for them, but they refuse to listen to experts (in hotel management, not me) who tell them that. I'm cool with wanting to be a great restaurant, but I don't want us to be known for someone else's menu. We should be setting the example, not following it. If they want to be like Applebee's ( another quoted favorite) maybe they should have bought an Applebee's. Where everything is premade and always the same and never creative. Sorry for the long reply, it's just so frustrating. I am the only employee who has been trained. None of us have been to culinary school, but I trained two years under a GREAT chef on everything from prep to managerial/ inventory. I'm 22. I don't have a lot of professional experience, but Ive been in restaurants all my life and the little professional experience I have is solid.
post #6 of 15

You're working at a place far, far beneath you.

I doubt you'll ever enjoy the freedom of creativity that you desire...and deserve.

But so long as you ARE there, what would they do if, instead of simply saying

"what bread would you like that on? Can we order another?" or "Might I suggest" ,

you said something more like " If you really want this sandwich to be ordered regularly

we need a more flavorful bread-what we have wont work." or simply MAKING the

glaze the way you want to, and don't even expose it to them until it tastes right to YOU.

As to the "holes" in the dishes, have you checked to see if the recipes or the transcripts

for this revered show of theirs is available online?

 

If you're gonna stay and try to make this work, theyre gonna have to work with you and admit

they're out of their element. And you have a responsibility not to let food go out that tastes

like cleaning fluid. You might have to dig your heels in, but in the end, you'll sleep better.

post #7 of 15

*

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thank you. That means a lot. Because I really am having moral issues with this stuff. Before I ever send a plate out, I say 'would I let my child eat this?' Because you never know who the food is going to. Children, the elderly, food intolerance..
post #9 of 15

I see your predicament.  They need to understand that the way it works is that they ask the chef and his staff for their take on "such and such."  You make a couple of versions after service one day, let them try it, and then sit down to discuss where that dish might be headed.

 

Maybe do it anyway.  Make your version, put it on a plate, and let the ball be in their court.  If they don't feel like trying it, have it for lunch. :-)

post #10 of 15

Well its all a matter of standards. If the owners are wanting to put out TV food, regardless

of quality, won't listen to their own chefs and  wont encourage or listen to customer feedback,

then Id say theyre not running the place right. If you have no control over that, the only

thing you DO have control over is what you pass through that winder. Some don't care--

a job's a job and the owner is the boss. Most of us in here, you included, I would say do.

Tough one, you'll just have to keep whittling away at them, plate and serve them each dish as

CS suggested, and pass on any customer comments you happen to hear.

post #11 of 15

The cake/cupcake "business" is so saturated with mediocre "sugar artists" I have to wear my rain boots to bake.

Huge boom in the out of my home kitchen "hobby" cake ladies.

Even if my spine had not started crumbling I would have retired.

Cannot compete with someone pricing at 2-3 dollars per serving.

Lets travel instead!

 

mimi

post #12 of 15

Yeah Mimi, I really think the cupcakes-from-home deregulation act ended up a mixed bag of

good and bad. And at this point I think I'm leaning more toward the "mostly bad" theory.

post #13 of 15

Sounds like your owners need a visit from Gordon Ramsay, or better still Philippe Etchebest (Michelin starred chef and Meilleur Ouvrier de France). Philippe will set them straight and isn't quite as rude as Mr Ramsay.

Maybe your owners aren't listening now, but as the bookings decline and they start to lose bucket loads of money, they will be forced to recognise that their vision of things is terminally flawed.

Having said that, if they have set themselves on a course for disaster, there is no reason why you should sink with them.

You are young and you need to let your creative juices flow in a serious environment.

Go and bang on the door at the French Laundry, or Alinea, or Joel Robuchon.

You owe it to yourself

post #14 of 15

I'm always amazed at restaurant owners where the sum total of their market research is done on FoodTV and the internet.

 

Please people-know who your customer base is and cater to THEM.

What sense does it make to offer food designed for NY tourists to customers who live in rural Missouri?

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #15 of 15

 IMHO

 you are far too young to be where you are,

 grab a  backpack your knives and hit the  culinary road.  Get thee to NY or Vegas or SF or anywhere good chefs flock to. 

 THere is a huge skill shortage so no lack of jobs.

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