I hired on a few months back when I walked in for a part time cook job interview and the owners, being impressed with my resume or something of the sort, offered me a salaried chef position to work alongside their current chef and help them improve the place.
It's proving to be far more difficult than I thought.
First of all, the owners are pretty clueless when it comes to running a kitchen. They are attempting fine dining but these guys don't even know the basics of cooking.
Therefore, until I showed up, they were completely unaware that their chef doesn't know what he's doing either.
I compiled a lengthy list and pointed it out to the owners within my first week that their chef doesn't know what he's doing but they want me to "work with him" and show him the right way to do things but, he's extremely stubborn and not interested in changing anything.
Everyone but me seems to think that everything is fine as long as food is coming out of the kitchen and looks pretty.
In an attempt to say this without too much racial offense, he's a 50 something year old Mexican who speaks mediocre English and doesn't have much experience in fine dining besides washing dishes for a steak house and the 15 years or so he's put in at this place where he's now become the chef by general process of promotion. He makes for terrible leadership, isn't very good at training, often fails to stock us properly so we end up running out of things constantly, rarely cleans anything if at all, not to mention, he's just plain lazy.
I understand my role as a sous but it feels like he puts literally all the heavy work on me that he possibly can. I do the prep list daily, stock and prep all the stations on the line, do pretty much all the cleaning, setting up, tearing down and closing at night. The heaviest work he does is making fresh bread in the morning and then putting together a soup du jour. I handle almost everything else.
I'm in serious debate if the guy even has a food handlers permit. I'm constantly reorganizing the walk in and drop tops to correct the blatant disregard he has for food safety. You'd think a chef would know not leave egg wash out for a whole shift, that the food should be cooled by refrigeration, not just leaving it out on the counter and not to put raw chicken above the fresh cut lettuce that we use for salads but he doesn't seem to even notice. If he's aware of it then he just doesn't care and that's not really acceptable either. He's at least aware that all our sauté on the line is executed wrong but according to him, it's faster so we have to do it that way, no staging, no deglazing, just throw everything in the pan and heat it ASAP.
Anyway, things have finally escalated to a very tense situation. I'm trying to uphold a standard for the level of food we're supposed to be making and he wants to keep doing everything the way he's always been doing it. We're at a point where now, he refuses to speak to me other than what is absolutely necessary to keep the kitchen in motion, we spend all of our time that we have to work together in the farthest corners of the kitchen from each other as possible. He also loves to be extremely critical of me and all my dishes at all times. I'm doing everything wrong, even when it's right.
Oh, and forget about food quality or timeliness. He'd rather run the whole line himself during lunch and send me downstairs to build crab cakes and do all other manner of menial, time consuming tasks. Other days it's reversed and I'll run the whole line solo and he avoids me in the downstairs prep area until he leaves in the afternoon at the end of his shift.
There's another thing, he works day shift. I work all day. 12-14 hour shifts usually. Even though we're both suppose to be on salary, I find that I spend a lot more time there than he does.
I realize I'm ranting here but he's driving me up the wall. It's so hard to be a subordinate to and respect a chef that obviously knows far less about running a proper kitchen.
Chances are that he's not going anywhere any time soon and the owners aren't going to fire him (even though they should) because "he's like family"
Sure, I guess I could try to go somewhere else and let them have their shit circus without me but this isn't the first time I've been in this same situation. I've seen firsthand that my hometown has a chronic problem of kitchens run by Mexicans with no food safety standards and rather than run from restaurant to restaurant, I feel it's finally time to take a stand and make a change for the sake of culinary in my hometown. If I can change one restaurant then maybe there's a glimmer of hope
Rant over, sorry for writing a novel.
Any suggestions for how to cope with this stubborn old chef?