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Commis Advice

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Hi there, I'm three months into my job as a commis at a french fine dining place. I have three years experience, moving to more and more upscale/'fine' restaurants being hired here. Our recent menu that's being phased out now hit our station (garde manger) very hard. I did my best to take on more and more mep, plan ahead for our big projects, and motivate our other commis who's a fresh grad. Our station also has a demi and a jnr sous, who isn't involved in our daily running. I came in earlier and earlier until I come in at 6-7 and finish at 1-3 depending. I don't mind it at all.. I try not to let others know the hours I put in because if they see I'm struggling they might not let me take on as much. until one day I came in at 5 and the jnr sous was there doing his own projects. Later he and the demi said they were both surprised that I'm there that early. I was stunned the demi didn't know how much earlier I'd be coming, I thought it was a test.. and not that he was clueless.


That day I was very quiet and kept to myself. Demi asked me if I was unhappy with him after servce. I told him that I felt he didn't have a big picture view. Ie planning ahead big projects for days when we are full team, understanding each persons mep for the day so we can allocate better, delegating better. Past 2 days I've been just doing my own shit, not going at 110% so that I can help others out, etc. Been asking my previous colleagues and chefs for advice. They say to just come in at the normal time, if one die all die together. They know my style and they know that if I had things to do but could squeeze yours in I would, rather than working a little more slow or taking a micro break.


I'm a bit demoralized. That I couldn't suck it up this whole 'menu season'. That I'm just doing what this whole kitchen environment is doing - cover your own ass, do your own shit, rather than what I was trained in the past.. team effort. That I cannot do what they talk about - commis is supposed to give demi nothing to do, demi is supposed to give cdp nothing to do, cdp is supposed to give sous nothing to do, etc.. Doubting myself cos.. Am I supposed to judge my demi that way? And also.. Is it that I only think I need to put in that amount of time, but the reality is that I am just that slow? 


Just wondering if anybody has any advice out there... Should I just come in at a normal time to protect myself? (demi does have a tendency to take credit sometimes) Or should I subscribe to the idea that my chef (my demi in this case) is my master, I should strive towards doing everything before he realises it needs doing, and stop sulking about him taking credit for shit that I've done?

post #2 of 13
What is a demi?
post #3 of 13

Jr Sous???

post #4 of 13

A demi chef de partie or chef de partie is (as most of you know) is the station manager. They are third in command and are very often called junior sous chef in North America.


My questions to the OP is: Why both demi and junior sous in your kitchen? and Why is the demi not involved in your section?? That is the point of the demi chef de partie job. Does the demi have culinary education? Although I do understand that some demi think they only have to look after the line stations and its cooks, if the junior sous chef is not there to help then the demi is there to help. Weird.....I would be tempted to ask some questions of your sous chef as to who you may ask for help or questions regarding your grade manger station.


Try not to over achieve and burn yourself out because once they see you over-producing (giving without asking so to speak) then they will take advantage of that always. Commis is supposed to learn off of the demi/junior sous/souschef and that requires them working alongside you to make sure you are achieving what the kitchen needs as well as learning the trade. Sometimes it is just a matter of communication.....other times it is a matter of a crappy demi. 

post #5 of 13
oh I have never heard demi chef de partie but just chef de partie... Is there no distinction between the two? As an aside in my experience a Jr Sous is just someone who is tailing the chef and the sous to learn ops to run another restaurant. I'd be curious to know what the actual structure of the OP's kitchen is since they are all seemingly so non-standard
post #6 of 13
In a large operation but mostly hotels the demi chef de partie is the position directly under chef de partie.In this situation there is probably an executive sous chef with several sous chefs called junior sous chefs that are directly in charge of an entire kitchen.
post #7 of 13

NAMES......TITLES        I guess they make everybody feel good about themselves.

post #8 of 13
The bigger, and busier, a kitchen is, the more it needs to run on an "everybody does his job" kind of format. Teamwork is great- I'm all for it- but when things get too complicated sometimes its better for a manager to just know that each part will work like it's supposed to. So, I know where you're coming from on the teamwork thing, but if you're the only one "teamworking" you'll wear yourself out.
Having said that, I have no idea how your kitchen, with all it's bizarre titles is supposed to function, so I can't really help you there.
post #9 of 13

They give you a title to boost your ego and its better then giving you a higher salary.!!!!!

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...


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...

post #10 of 13
lol nothing wrong with job discriptions just saying it might help us to know exactly what exactly everyone's function is supposed to be in the OP's kitchen, though I suppose it could be kind of hard to find out without phrasing it "what exactly are you supposed to do mr. jr sous?" biggrin.gif
post #11 of 13
If we go by rbrad's post, we can infer from the presence of the demi that there is also a CDP.... so, jr. Sous, Chef de Partie, Demi Chef, and two Commis? No wonder it's confusing. Actually, we get (probably) Exec Chef, Chef de Cuisine, Exec Sous, (myriad) Jr. Sous, Chef de Partie, Demi Chef, and two commis. So @myrdrall, your demi is not your master, he's justthe third man from the bottom of a very tall totem pole. You should try to have everything done because you're a badass, but it sounds like there should be enough bodies you shouldn't be the only one working.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Our kitchen has 2 jnr sous, 1 cdp, 2 demi, 4 commis. Previously we had 1 sous, 2 cdp, 3 demi, 5 commis. Our sous chef left about 2 weeks ago. Person effectively in charge of our station is the demi, our jnr sous does menu development and paperwork mostly. Past few days I've been coming at normal times and doing things in a more 'mind my own business' kinda way.

This is the biggest kitchen I've worked in and it's a challenge for me. Because the place that shaped me the most was a small team - 3 or 4 in the kitchen and we had a big emphasis on teamwork. Always communicating how we're doing whether in mep or service and adjusting accordingly. I'm not very sure how to adapt.. to just go with the flow or continue trying to be team spirited.
post #13 of 13
Personally I wouldn't have let the incident where my extra blood sweat and tears were questioned. If you feel comfortable bringing it up again (though it's been a few days now) I would... Probably the best advice I could give. Nothing wrong with tooting your own horn, in particular if your labour is going unnoticed.
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