or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Executive Sous Chef

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've recently obtain a position as Sous Chef of a busy restaurant. I am the only Sous and therefore have a great responsibility. My kitchen experience has been both the highs of working at Michelin star restaurants and dives. My only goal in choosing places to work was going somewhere where the people had passion. Where I'm currently working lacks serious passion. The restaurant has been in decline (for various reasons) and I want to do everything possible to help my chef return it to a bustling, thriving kitchen. I want success. I hold myself to very high standards and although I've been in Michelin star places doesn't mean I want to change my current restaurant into a Michelin place, or even try for that. But the food needs an update and my chef has been going solo at it for too long. No vacation in two years. As I see it, it's my job to relieve my chef of all the duties he's been having to do. I'm having a seriously hard time with my cooks. Many of these guys have been working there for years. One guy 21 years! Maybe it's time for some people to go? I'm not a yeller, so i dont yell. But in so many ways i explain to the staff that i have high standards and they will be met. But! even after meetings most of the guys think I'm not serious. They have been there and worked with two other Sous that, as I've been told, amounted to shit. I'm not going down that road. If I have to fire someone then so be it. 

 

I'd like some feed back on what it takes to motivate people. I like these guys, but business is business. Does anyone have some tips or knowledge about this, been down this road before? 

 

 

Thx chefs! 

post #2 of 12
Reality; you/chef will probably fire many people and still be on thatroad. It is always a struggle unless you have some good budget to pay for talent.

Tips on motivating / being a leader I'm sure the experienced community will speak up. I'd say get a book and take a course on the subject, seriously do some continuous learning.

My advice at the moment is write down your goals, specifically the goals your chef/ gm manager whoever has for you. Don't worry too much about the cooks that will sort itself and remember the chef built that team not you. Worry about doing your job. Whatever that means; get a job description if you can, at least verbally. That will take some of the stress off as you focus your energy hopefully.

Meetings only go so fR, for people to take you serious end the meeting with them signing a piece of paper stating the problem. Be professional HR is not easy but think it through ask Chef for help and if they even want you making hR decisions. Write it up.

Why are you executive sous and the only sous? Does the Chef not discipline or lead the cooks? Have you any management experience? Answers to these basic questions will help us give guidance.

Lead by example! Start yelling? Eheheh
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I appreciate the advice and I'll take it. I've held the chef position before and have some management experience. I'll probably read some books and see of there's classes. I simply want the best out of my cooks. Not just for me, for them too. I have guys that are just there for a paycheck and their great. But then I have guys that can't even cut a bell pepper but think their great cooks.

It's a process. But I don't yell, I repeat myself.
post #4 of 12
Don't let things happen that aren't up to your standards. The guys who are there for the paychecks need to know they won't get them if things aren't right; your "artists" need to know that things will go out the way you want them and not how they think. Why? Because you're paying them.
Make sure you and the chef are on the same team, nothing is more poisonous than one of you telling a cook something and the other something different.
post #5 of 12

Before you get too far down the road, I would make sure that you clearly understand what exactly you are able to do or not do in your official capacities. I have worked two places where I was hired as chef and then found out when dealing with difficult employees that I didn't have the final say on their employment status, in other words I couldn't fire them. Needless to say I didn't stay at either place, what would have been the point?

 

 I would have a group meeting with the kitchen crew, at which time I would fully explain and detail my goals and expectations for the crew as a whole and the individual positions. I would make sure that everyone understood and had no questions whatsoever about my policies and beliefs.

 

The first time someone failed to live up to those standards, I would have a one on one them and ask what the problem was and what could be done to rectify the situation. I would then let them know that if it happened again, a three way sit down with the chef would be arranged in order to insure that the difficulty with achieving the goals and standards, that were previously clearly outlined and explained in the group and the individual meeting, would be resolved.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #6 of 12

Along with the great advice already given, I'll mention this. The red flag for me is the guy who has been there for 21 years. 

I would want to know what the owners are thinking as well as the chef. If he isn't a good employee, who has allowed him to continue without correction?  

If he is a good employee, so much the better to have someone reliable. 

Leading by example is the best way I know of to let your standards show but support from management is crucial. Calling out their mistakes in a calm, professional manner is also important. The challenge is not getting sucked in to  an argument if the offending cook becomes offended and takes it personally. 

As already mentioned, whatever standards you have will not matter if they do not get support from owners and chef. A candid conversation with owners and chef will let you know what your possibilities are and how successful you have the chance to be. 

post #7 of 12
Really great advice coming from this thread seems like being a shots chef is pretty tough.
post #8 of 12
Depends on where you work. There are a ton of factors that will decide how hard your job is. Some chefs work themselves to death and expect the same, some take it easy and lean on their sous, some work a ton and don't kill their sous. Some places have labor budgets with wiggle room, and some places have totally unrealistic budgets that garauntee you'll be on the line every day. Sometime you're held to an unreasonable food cost but aren't allowed control of the menu. Sometimes you have good cooks and sometimes you have shoemakers. Sometimes cranky good ones and happy shoemakers.

Actually I take it back; it is always hard. But usually its do-able
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grande View Post

Depends on where you work. There are a ton of factors that will decide how hard your job is. Some chefs work themselves to death and expect the same, some take it easy and lean on their sous, some work a ton and don't kill their sous. Some places have labor budgets with wiggle room, and some places have totally unrealistic budgets that garauntee you'll be on the line every day. Sometime you're held to an unreasonable food cost but aren't allowed control of the menu. Sometimes you have good cooks and sometimes you have shoemakers. Sometimes cranky good ones and happy shoemakers.

Actually I take it back; it is always hard. But usually its do-able


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Shoemakers................they're everywhere and anywhere, not just in the restaurant business.

 

Apparently the line cooks have the Chef right where they want him.

How else can you explain why the line cooks have been there so long?

 

While I admire your enthusiasm to get in there and relief the Chef of some of his burdens, you may need to get the big picture first.

Since we don't know anything other than what you have posted, it would be difficult to give you any other advice other than to seek out and speak to Chef alone.

Only he can tell you what really is going on and if you are going to support him in all ways, you need to be just like him.

The relationship between a Chef and Sous is almost akin to marriage. They must think alike, talk alike and support each other. They are the managers of their crew together.

Good luck

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

after careful thought and really looking into the matter, and some consulting from former chef's i had. i decided not to continue with the post. what did it for me was knowing in my heart that the place wouldnt change and nothing i do or say was going to change that. someone posted not to change my standards and in the end i listened to that. 

post #11 of 12

Congratulations. Best of luck in your future. You did the right thing. Sometimes it is better to simply cut your losses and move on. 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
This is a cool forum. I appreciate the positive responses and I took them to heart, but not blindingly. I have other doors opening.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs