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What to expect 5 star hotel

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I will be starting a job at a big 5 star hotel in NYC as a cook.  This is my first time in a hotel of this size and in a hotel unionized environment.  What should I expect from the kitchen atmosphere to whats expected of me and how is it working in a unionized environment.

post #2 of 5
Union, huh? That's a mixed bag for sure. Mostly what I hear is that no one ever quits, and that you can't help other stations- not allowwd to.
post #3 of 5


IF YOUR GOOD YOU DO NOT NEED A UNION they need you.  If its Hotel local 6 heaven help you. Good Luck

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #4 of 5
A union environment is awesome... if you are a crappy worker. It's still pretty good if you are average or below. It's really frustrating if you're a good worker, and maddening if you are an outstanding worker.

Recognition usually has little to do with talent and everything to do with tenure. Leadership positions are usually filled by the people who have been there the longest instead of the best or most talented workers.

What can you expect to learn? Inefficiency, how to work the system, poor management skills, and what an unprofitable kitchen looks like.

I would not work in a union shop because you likely aren't going to be learning the skills that will develop your talent or help you run your own kitchen profitably. Young chefs need to be in successful, profitable kitchens. That's how you learn to be successful yourself. Bad examples only serve to delay your development.

Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

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Brandon O'Dell

 

Friend That Cooks Home Chef Service

www.friendthatcooks.com

O'Dell Restaurant Consulting

www.bodellconsulting.com

 

Reply
post #5 of 5

I have worked in union hotels before in other places, and Brandon is mostly correct, and although I haven't worked in a union in NYC, I think it may depend on the hotel/restaurant.  The plus sides are the hourly rate is usually higher than a standalone restaurant and you usually get full benefits (med/dental, paid vacation, sick time, etc).  The hours are probably less tho, probably no more than 40, but some places may offer more by default.  Overtime, shits, preferred days off, etc, usually goes to the most senior person that wants it, and when they need to cut back the newest is the first to lose hours.  One of my buddy's that I work with now in NYC now just came from a union hotel in the city.  Very high end hotel/restaurant.  Michelin star level.  He was making, with OT, about twice what I make now at 50-60+hrs/wk (plus he had good benefits...i don't have any!) and average week for him was 50 hrs as a cook.  Not too sure exactly how the work environment was, but it seemed decent as he is considering going back.

 

The places with the better known restaurants may actually behave more like an independent restaurant with a big budget, but others may be very union-oriented.  Some may let the chef do whatever he wants with the food and menu, however most probably have limitations on what can go on the menu.  There is also the whole banquet side of it, which I know nothing about in NYC.  Room service may either come from the restaurant, or from a separate kitchen.

 

As far as budget/profitability, hotels are very different than standalone places.  First of all, the hotel is there to make money by selling rooms/space, not by selling food.  Food is secondary and meant as a complement to their primary service of providing rooms/spaces.  Secondly, most of their F&B revenue is from selling banquets.  But many hotels combine the restaurants, bars, room service, and banquets to one budget.  So if they make a lot of money with banquets, which is where they do make most of their F&B money, that means a bigger budget for the restaurant, too.  The purpose of having a restaurant in a hotel is as a service to guests and better hotels are expected to have better restaurants, especially when the hotel wants a certain rating.  This is the biggest reason why hotel restaurants are not profitable.  They are merely an amenity that the hotel has to offer to it's guests to achieve the desired rating, and usually do not make much, if any, profit and are mostly supported by selling banquets and the hotel's other revenue.

 

So really, it's got it pluses and minuses and I think a lot mostly depends on the particular place and chef.  Whatever the case, work hard, listen to the chef, and do your job as best as you can, regardless of what the cook next to you does.  And DO NOT fall victim to the union attitude of "It's not my job/It's not in my job description" or "I can't get fired."  As I mentioned before, and it is unfortunate, but regardless of the chef, your work ethic and the attitude of the restaurant, it is still union and has rules and procedures, especially about pay/hours/shift/days off which is almost always by seniority and very little has to do with merit.

 

Anyway, that's my experience, and good luck with your new job!

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