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Biased Instructor

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

This is my last semester and the chef instructor I have is going through political changes in school, he gives us the answers for tests, criticizes the food and beverage manager, told us the beverage manager's salary, which was non of our business.  He is angry because they are moving him to teach 1st or 2nd semester, so he now takes off whenever the mood strikes him which means I miss two classes per day for about 3 days because he is the only instructor for the 4th semester.

 

It is evidenced that he favors the non-black students, even though the school is predominately black.  It seems that no matter how much effort I put in, or dishes I suggest for my final project (Beef Wellington), he shots it down and told me, "don't try and be Jacques Pepin or Julia Child, rolled up into one".  I'm the only student in class that asks questions and really want to learn, while most come in with dirty filthy uniforms on or just don't show up at all.  He considers my questions arguing with him.  He teaches a lab and food cost class, but told us for the food cost class just to memorize the math formulas and that we don't need to understand how a problem works.

 

He treats me as if I just picked up a knife and decided I wanted to learn to cook.  I am one of the oldest in the class (58 years old, female, African American) and was a professional legal assistant for 21 years prior to coming to school.  I have cooked for over 40 years and have gotten As in most of my classes and Bs in the rest.  I study, am on time for class, I do the work, and get along with everyone, except him.  For some reason, he will give me a hard time, telling me that's what it's like in the "real world".  When my turn came to be sous chef for 2 weeks, he did not encourage anyone to respect me.  All I wanted was to show the students plating my dishes how I wanted the food presented.  However, it's Mexican food week, and I asked the acting sous how she wanted her plate presented and after she told me, the chef turned to me and loudly stated that I should always obey the sous.  I already know that, but he didn't enforce it when it was my turn to supervise.

 

Today, I walked out of class and complained to the department chair and she told me he is a lousy instructor and they are trying to terminate him, but it is hard because he has tenure.  I told her everything that happened and that the reason I left was so I would not say anything incriminating.  Instead of telling the student's to work their own stations, he allowed them to "help" me on the grill, again, I don't need any help and as he was directing another student with a burger, he turns to me and yells as if I am a novice cook, "this is how you learn to cook a burger."  This guy asked another student (whose father knows my husband) what my husband does for a living and the student told him, and now every chance he gets, announces to the class that my husband is a lawyer. Why?  My personal life is none of his or the school's business and I keep that separate from school.  

 

Isn't it his job to teach me and not another student who doesn't even have nearly as much cooking experience as I do to teach me?  Why is he treating me like this?  It is my turn on the grill.  He had the never to say to me, "you gotta push your way around on the grill".  Why should I have to do that when it's my turn?  I didn't bother anyone when it was their turn.  It's the same people he allows to run the kitchen.  They don't even know what a prime or sub-prime cut of meat is.  I had to stop them from putting in dirty leeks in my stock.  They didn't even know they had to split them to wash out the dirt.  Really?  C'mon now.  I really envisioned making new friends, young or old who would want to cook with me and share recipes.  Instead I got stuck with this instructor who is a bully.

 

I really am disappointed in this school.  He does nothing when a student steals equipment and food and he knows who she is, but does nothing about it.  They even found a stolen laptop in her locker.  He lets the kids run the show and I am so upset that I am writing him a letter tonight at the advice of the chair and sending a copy to her and the dean.

 

All I wanted to do was excel at what I love, but this guy speaks loudly to me in front of everyone, tells me to go get things and then yells at me because I left the grill.  Hell, he had 7 people up there trying to do my assignment.  Ridiculous!


Edited by Etherial - 4/22/14 at 3:43pm
post #2 of 6

You are right. You are justified. Excel despite him.

 

He has lessons to teach, they are what not to emulate. They are extremely valuable lessons. Take them to heart and rise above.

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 #3 of 6

Based on the principle of a broken clock still tells time accurately twice a day for one minute, yes, you will encounter racist, anti-feminist s.o.b.'s in the hospitality industry.  However, I don't think you should be experiencing this at school, especially when you pay for it.

 

That being said, you are just a few years older than I am, and so you should be that much more cynical than I am.  While reading your post my immediate thought was:"What does this guy take with him if he gets fired, and what does he loose if he quits?".  It's a big game of chicken--seeing who chickens out first--the school or the instructor.  From your post it looks like the school is trying to pressure him to quit, and the instructor is pressuring the school to fire him.  Either way the students loose out big time, and the school's reputation takes a nose dive as well.

 

Good on you for taking the time to write and bring it out in the open. 

...."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 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your support.  I really am passionate about creating good food and I truly get along with everyone.  I will go back in class tomorrow, as the chair suggested, and act like nothing has happened, which means I will not address him at all, unless it has to do with cooking and then, go about my business.

 

I have 4 more weeks with him and will do everything I can to excel.  My husband's friend has been a professional chef for over 15 years and when I told him the problems I am having with this instructor, his reply was, "the guy's an azzhole.  When you are assigned a station in the real world, you had better master that station or you will be fired.  No one is there to help you, unless they aren't busy."  I believe him.  My husband said to me as I cried because I was afraid that I would not find a job that would have me and he told me his friend that manages one of the Hilton Hotels wants me to call him as soon as I can because he has a job for me.

 

I really appreciate this site for allowing me to vent and share my experiences.  Hopefully, the next time I vent, it will be because of joy.

post #5 of 6

I don't have any advice, but I can imagine how difficult it is to learn, and gain the essential confidence needed to move on after graduating. Look at the good side.. any place you work at after school will be a breeze after trying to survive under those conditions.

 

Hang in there.

“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 6
Thread Starter 

Wonderful news!  Since I wrote the letter of complaint to the chair and dean, and a copy to him, my instructor has become a totally supportive instructor to me.  He was very informative, attentive, and even expressed compliments to me on a job well done.  Not only did I execute properly cooked steaks and burgers on the grill, he praised my knife skills and speed, and cleanliness of my appearance and station.  He also noted that I worked well with others and he instructed the students who were acting as sous chefs to leave the grill; too many cooks wanting to "help" me.  

 

We talked about the issues and he apologized wholeheartedly, but I also suggested that while an apology was appreciated, demonstrating his sincerity and not harassing me anymore, was better.  I didn't need to be toughened up by him through bullying, I'm pretty sure I was harassed enough in basic training 30 years ago. I don't know if he recognizes that my cooking skills are more advanced than the students in class, but he can obtain that information by talking to my previous instructors and their observations and perception of my skill-set.  

 

I sent a letter of resolution to the chair and the dean and informed them that no further action will be required.  I'm sure they are relieved that he may finally let go of his anger towards the school's new policy of rotating the instructors every semester.  He has taught 4th semester for almost 10 years or so and is really not a happy camper with this new policy.

 

My instructor agreed to tutor me during lunch with my food cost class and anything I need to graduate.  It's too bad all of this drama had to occur, but it's resolved and I am sincerely happy again!


Edited by Etherial - 4/24/14 at 6:41am
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