So, I was recently hired to be the Executive Chef at a casual restaurant. Previously I worked as Chef de Cuisine at a complete from scratch kitchen that served casual fine dining (italian stuff like bolognese, carpaccio, braciole, etc).
My former chef, and also the owner, spoke with me at length about the issues I'd likely have with a 13 year veteran, along with owners who work in the kitchen. Stuff like constant statements of, "That's not how we do it here."
I've never run into so much resistance in my career, I'm used to showing people how to do the thing I want and they go do it. Maybe I refine their approach or answer questions as needed, but it gets done and within a week or two everyone has the new item down.
If anyone has experience coming into an established place that has requested your specific expertise, but get resistance from all sides, I'd love to hear how you dealt with it. I know that I have to make adjustments to my way of thinking as well, and tips on both dealing with the staff and maybe what I mentally have to do would be greatly appreciated. I'd also love to hear from owners, perhaps I'm not seeing the other side of the issue.
Just for clarity these are some of the minor issues I've run into this past week (and yes, I know how minor these issues are, but they sure do pile up fast):
The line cooks would make a tomato cream sauce by putting in some random amount of cream into the saute pan and reduce it, then add an arbitrary amount of marinara. Some cooks had a pink blush sauce, some an orange sauce, others would have a brownish sauce clearly from the cream burning. While the owners don't use any software currently to track food, or do inventory, they want accountability for dishes. So I made a cream sauce recipe, one that's been around for over a decade with great success. It's cost effective for a bar restaurant because it's not a reduction, but a thickened sauce. Now the dish requires one 6 oz ladle of the cream sauce, and one 3 oz ladle of the marinara. My day off this week one of the cooks said, "I'm not using that shit." To which the owner responded, "I don't have time to deal with this."
There was a beer tasting menu done without my knowledge or input.
They buy premade Pico from Sysco, but they throw away a bunch of tomato and onion scraps from slicing them for burgers. I bought a dicer, and gave them a recipe. Did a demo for the whole staff, told them what was expected. My day off the owner adds Pico to his Sysco order to help bump up the amount to hit the dollar threshold for delivery. The only thing he wanted was rack of lamb (for the above tasting). We'd just spoken about the pico change the day before, and I asked him how I was expected to train my team to make fresh pico when the next day he orders pico. His response: It's just pico, no need to get worked up.
Our 13 year veteran cook went on vacation this week to take a driving test. He passed on Thursday, came in to work and quit. No notice. He was supposed to work this weekend, but didn't. I found out Thursday night from the one cook I hired that this guy had told the owners over a week ago that this was happening. I call up a guy from my former job who I know is a solid chef and interview him, only to be told by the owner to not be hasty with my hiring and that he has an interview set for Monday. I ask what time the interview is, and it's a few hours before I'm to come in. When I ask if he needs me in for the interview, the owner tells me that I don't need to be there but can show up if I'd like.