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How to Deal with Line Cooks and Jealousy

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

OK long story short: I was a sous who basically ran the whole kitchen (without the title of head chef) for a long time and suddenly switched jobs and got a line cooking gig at a French restaurant. I work the hardest station every night and picked up the in's and out's of this kitchen very quickly. Chef and I were talking about last night and he said I am the best addition he's hired since he's been there (7+ years).

 

Anyways, while the chef and sous are very happy with me the line cooks are not so much. I am not a cocky person and I'm very realistic in my opinion of myself but the line cooks around me are starting to get a little jealous I think. I work my station with ease despite it being the hardest station because I am used to working my own station plus baby sitting my line cooks around mend at my previous job as a sous, so when I only have to worry about my own station here it feels like a mini-vacation. I go over to other stations when I get a chance and help out on GM and fish and fry. The GM cook really appreciates it but the other two stations get offended when I help them out, so I stopped doing it until the head chef tells me directly to bail them and then of course I do it. I clean my station in minutes because I don't lollygag around and this pisses off the other cooks because they usually clock out a good 20+ minutes after me because they don't understand clean up time is not goof off time. I help out the dishwasher whenever I can and the other day he made a comment to the effect of' how come you guys never help me out but he does every night', that really got them ticked off because he is low-man on the totem pole and the other cooks really let him know it. I clean and organize the walk-in often and the other cooks get a hair up their @sses about this because the head chef constantly will talk to himself loud enough for the other chefs to hear and say 'I only see one person contributing to cleaning the walk-in'.

 

I went from being very liked by the other line cooks my first week to now I feel like they are a little jealous and intimidated. I am easy going and humble and I am very careful not to offend anyone. I feel like the more I do the more they can't stand it, some don't even talk to me anymore. What did I do?

 

I feel like I am doing my job with ease and taking on more tasks because I was used to the responsibility of running a kitchen for so long that when all I have to do is cook on the line it's feels too easy, it's not because I'm an spectacular line cook it's because I'm simply used to having to do much more night in night out.

 

Any advice for dealing with the once friendly line cooks who now don't want much to do with me? I didn't even get a hi or bye from one of them today.

post #2 of 17

To quote Hank Hill... "It's called G.W.S., Good Worker Syndrome". You have it. They don't. Sounds like you have a bunch of slackers working there. Some have been there longer than others and some think they deserve recognition that they don't. You're stealing their thunder. Ride it out and you'll end up the sous there in no time. Some of them might quit when this happens. Use that opportunity to replace them with people who will work hard. My only bit of advice, don't waste too much time trying to make friends. The one guy that didn't even say "Hi" or "Bye" to you today probably is so fed up with the place that he'll end up quitting sooner or later. Maybe buy some of the more friendlier ones beers and make friends with them instead (like the dishwasher). 

post #3 of 17

There is nothing wrong with you.

Remember why you are there in the first place, and NO...it's not to make friends.

Take Vic's advice.....and chalk this up to another in a long line of life lessons.

post #4 of 17

Under no circumstances should you change what you are doing. As the others have pointed out, those who can't stand it will eventually leave the kitchen. As long as you continue to learn and gain experience and the chef supports your efforts, stay where you are until your leaving advances you professionally. It is a sad reality that you will always encounter those who feel threatened by your skill, work ethic and professionalism. There is nothing you can do to prevent it and nothing you should change to make them feel better. Maintain your standards. 

post #5 of 17

Linecook, your predicament sounds familiar to me. This is the story of my life in most of the jobs I start. I used to work for a culinary temp agency, and often times, (as often as a weekly basis), I was sent to different locations (kitchens) all throughout nyc to help out with whatever was needed, so I learned very quickly how to adapt to new kitchens, new bosses, and new co-workers immediately upon arrival. With that came confidence, and confidence is what these people despise. To this day, I catch myself dumbing myself down to make them feel more at ease and less threatened. I have to, no... I simply must CUT THAT OUT! it's almost impulsive and involuntary. I struggle to contain my confidence, not to be confused with cockiness, as a female chef, because guys are expected to be a-holes to each other and to female chefs as well, but as a women, I do admit that I still possess a nurturing soft side that makes me want to make people comfortable.

 

 

Sorry for semi-hijacking, but what i meant to say is that I totally feel you.


Edited by Pollopicu - 4/4/14 at 5:54am
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #6 of 17

If the   chef paid you that complient, then keep doing what you are doing and ignore the rest. You will advance and go forward they wont. You are in it for good, they will all disapear

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #7 of 17

Pollopicu. 

I will take this opportunity to politely disagree with the gender bias your post suggests. While I have no doubt you may have experienced it from an individual or two, the behavior you relate and also that experienced by linecook854 is not automatically gender based. Guys are not expected to be aholes to each other or to women. A kitchen employee is expected to behave professionally at all times to everyone and focus on production needs. 

     I have experienced the described behavior five times in my career, always by my immediate male supervisor who felt threatened and intimidated by their own insecurities, not by my behavior. It is a human nature issue, not a gender one. While there may be statistics to back up the overall percentage of women chefs to percentage of male chefs, the only use for such statistics I can see is to provide fodder for the media looking to create sensationalistic articles about the "male dominated industry" issue that was, in my industry experience, settled many years ago. 

     Lydia Shire and Alice Waters are just two of the women who destroyed the "men make the best chefs" argument many years ago by making culinary history that went far beyond any gender concerns. There have been and are many others.  I have worked for and with female chefs in the past, including for what it's worth, my own mother.  My current Executive Chef is a woman. She also happens to be gay. Neither of those facts is relevant and I don't hear anyone in our rather large workplace using them as an opportunity to talk about her negatively. She is a hardworking, talented professional chef who earned her stripes. So were the other female chefs and cooks I have known. 

     A better topic for the media to focus on now would be the lack of professionalism encountered by linecook854, you, myself and so many others in so many kitchens when cooking schools and cooking shows proliferate like never before. Cooking professionally is Tough- Hot, sweaty, exhausting, pressure driven and relentless. It takes  a great deal of inner fortitude to be able to maintain high standards no matter where you work or what your gender, especially when those around you don't have them.  

     The only issue I have found that might be considered gender based is with young women who seem to have read all those sensationalistic media articles before entering a professional kitchen and believe they have to work harder than anyone else just to prove they are equal.  What I observe is not that they are working harder than anyone based on gender, they are simply working hard because as I have stated, kitchen work is Hard and typically harder than they expected it would be. Young men encounter the same issue. 

      If you are lazy, lack character, don't like sweating, feeling greasy, having sore ankles and feet, shoulders and wrists, cuts, bruises and burns and feeling stressed out all the time while you miss your friends birthday party and/or wedding, every movie, or a simple night on the town and all while getting paid very little compared to your friends with office jobs, then the kitchen is not for you. 

     I'll go so far as to say that anyone who makes it to Executive Chef level has the experience to know that what is important involves an employee who embodies the ability to withstand all of the above, male or female.  There may be entry level cooks who  use gender as an excuse for their own shortcomings but they are becoming quite rare and deserve to be kicked out of the kitchen anyway for their own incompetence. 

post #8 of 17

Although I didn't state that it was "automatically" gender biased. I was strictly talking about my own experience.

Of course a kitchen is "expected" to behave professionally, but the truth of the matter is that in many places they don't.

 

I know we all love to believe that equality is perfectly black and white, but it's not in this industry, and that's fact, and I think it's ok to highlight those biases because it's part of factual day to day life in this industry, and it's what helps us overcome them. But, now that we're discussing it, I have never experienced women threatened by me the way men are, and you make a good point in bringing up Lydia Shire and Alice Waters, because if they were to walk into a kitchen on their first day at entry level, tell me there wouldn't be a chef or two intimidated or threatened by their mere presence (before notoriety). And although Shire and Waters may have overcome the discrimination, their example hasn't exactly yet paved the way for ALL female chefs who enter a kitchen.

You may post all the statistics you want, however, I have worked in this industry for nearly 20 years, and I personally have experienced this first hand, and you cannot say you know what that's like. I am flabbergasted by the fact that you don't believe that female chefs have to work twice as hard to prove themselves, there we would have to agree to disagree. I entered the industry quite young, too young and ignorant to realize it was a male dominated industry until after I graduated school and worked at a few establishments. All I wanted to do was cook and create, and back then there were no sensationalistic media articles to read about.

 

Obviously the OP is male, and another male is threatened by him, I guess in a round-about, perhaps not exactly "politically correct" way, I meant to say that he probably would not have experienced that animosity from a female chef.

To think that there is no discrimination whatsoever between male and female chefs upon entering a kitchen on the first couple of weeks of employment is imperceptive.

 

Sure, those biases are being broken down more and more each day, by hard-working female chefs, such as myself, but we're not there yet, not by a long shot, and it's ok for me to say that. Unfortunately, there are many people in this industry who are indeed lazy, unmotivated, jealous, insecure, and are there because it's a job, and a paycheck, and regrettably, there will always be a demand for those as well.

 

Also, exec. chefs aren't the only ones who are familiar with the hardships of the industry. There are many hardworking industry professionals who know what it's like to break their minds and bones in this business, and do not get to exec level for one reason or the other, so I find that just a tad bit degrading to all other lesser ranking professionals.

 

I had no intention of turning this into a gender discussion, however, it's difficult to not blurt out what is one's everyday reality. It's a topic that really hits home because I have consistently dealt with it for so many years.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #9 of 17

I discriminate every day. I discriminate against:

  • Laziness
  • Stupidity
  • Arrogance
  • Intolerance
  • Sloppiness
  • Insubordination

 

If any of the above are involved, it is obvious as to where the problem lies.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #10 of 17

Call them putitos?

post #11 of 17

nods head in silence… yep.

post #12 of 17

ok now I'll dive in.

as a fellow female chef, I will stand up for you, pollopicu.

because you are right…...

I see exactly the same thing happen and NO our male collegues who don't know us, have no idea how hard we female chefs have to work to prove themselves!

sometimes its downright frustrating, to see a man who started same day as you, with NO education nor talent and ten years older, being allowed by the boys to help the hotline already

while you in that same time are still at the GM (no matter how much I like it), WITH an education AND experience...

women just have to work much harder, but then, we are good at it and it makes us stronger, too.

post #13 of 17
The best trainers I've ever had, and two of the cooks who impacted me and I respect above everybody else are female. That being said for the last couple posts- line cook, you could be on my team any day.
post #14 of 17

Kitchens are bastions of bias. There is gender bias, sexual orientation bias, racial bias, culinary school grad bias, no culinary degree bias, chain bias, the list goes on ad infinitum. There are even vegetables cut on a bias!!! Bias du jour. Start a thread on hollandaise, talk about encountering bias. 

 

We are not evolved as a species, nearly as much as we like to think that we are. There is not much that I can do about that, other than to monitor and evaluate how I behave, think, and act. Ripples.

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 #15 of 17
Quote:
There are even vegetables cut on a bias!!!

:lol:

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
Ripples.

 

Can I snatch the pebble from your hand?

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by beastmasterflex View Post
 

 

Can I snatch the pebble from your hand?

There are more and larger ones in my head.

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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