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I quit!

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

This thread is an opporunity to share experiences of woe, dissatisfaction and frustration in the culinary kingdom, in particular the evolution of self, the undertaking of growth and the ascension of responsibility. Insights into my little tale are valuable but also feel free to share a similar story and perhaps I can extract some wisdom from your experiences.

I have recently taken on new responsibilities, the kitchen is now my kitchen and I must oversee everything going on now. I took this job 'head chef' after 7 years of grinding in the back of house from the lowly title of dishwasher/kitchenhand, to day prep, to working the pass, to grill and a touch of sous chef. I have no formal education, I've come along way but oh lord there's a long way to go. I'm so stressed and psychologically encumbered, it's been to date mostly a mind-game. I wonder, after six months, if maybe I'm not cut out for the gig, perhaps I fair better as a sous chef. Internally I quit about twice a week, it never manifests, I never actually pull the plug but there are moments where I concede. Usually after copping the shits from the business owners when I fuck up a night of service. I really want to be a part of a more reputable, more expensive dining experience and cook for less people. It's far more satisfying than a manic pub or a bar. When we're busy it's about 60-80 in 3 hours service with seating capacity of about 45, plus take-away orders. I tend to lose it around the 30 covers mark.... that's not good at all.... 60 should rattle me, not half that much. It's slow season so I can analyse the position better, but fuck me i feel like a headless chicken sometimes.

I also can't help but notice how the standards of my employers are of course arbitrary but fluctuating. It's a family business: 2 parents one son all working in the kitchen and out. I have had far too many reprimands over poor prep, in particular not cutting the vegetables perfectly (it's japanese, this is a crime of crimes). However when I observe some of their completed works I find inconsistency and general human fallibility as well. Yet if I drop the bar (not even alot either) I get in loads of shit and my night is ruined, utterly frustrated, angry and ready to scream "I quit!". They have issued official 'poor performance' reviews and I have 4 weeks to raise the bar on my game or it's termination time. Pressure's on right? I know I can do this gig but I feel like it's taking me forever to master the delegation and problem solving techniques during dinner service. I burn shit every now and then, Gyoza's in particular. I have 6 burners as a grill. 2 fish pans, 3 teflon, and 4 big-ass deep sutee-ing pans (basically stainless steel woks, but totally curved, no flat base, half a sphere with a handle, can't find their proper name online....) SO it's not like a hotel with shitloads of pans to be tossed into the dishpit, NOPE! I sell 5 mains and I'm hooped. I have to juggle cooking and washing my own pans, plus making sure the pass isn't dragging as well as co-ordinating with the tempura deep frying.

 

We have our nights, it's not all doom and gloom. But still it's like the train has just left station and I'm bloody Indiana Jones on a horse tailing right behind trying to catch up. This does wonders for my sleeping cycle, which is a loaded gun when you start at 9am and finish around 1030pm. Who started the standard with hours like these? I still find it odd... When I'm well rested after my 2 days off I'm in the zone, come Saturday however you gotta ignore the fatigue and move forward. I also don't even feel like cooking at home anymore, I get this sentiment 'someone cook FOR ME today', it's my turn to be served please and thank you. This is a big drag cuz my home kitchen is like a church, a sanctuary a place to meditate and find that inner peace, that zen. So I'll go my 2 days off eating takeaway and then prep a bunch of lunches and dinners to freeze for the week ahead on my last night off, and in that time I snap and go 'wait I do still enjoy my kitchen at home, I just need a good reason to crack the eggs...' I'm also single as shit and don't have much of a social life, those two days off for me are spent in solitude, I just want to be alone but I'm starting to feel like that isolation may be doing me more harm than good.

 

Can you relate? Do I persist? Is this a test of strength? Am I to emerge from this period with a sharper skill and prowess? I can't even tell, I fell like a drowning mouse spinning in the whirlpool of an unflushable toilet wondering how the hell I even found myself in such a state.

 

Sincerely,

- Honest and paranoid.

post #2 of 5

From your description it sounds like this is the only kitchen you have ever worked in. If that is the case, you need to move on and work somewhere else. 

     Family businesses with family working in the kitchen is a tough go. Do you get to tell them what to do? Then they don't like your knife work? 

Anyway, to be well rounded as a chef means working in more than one place and is a great way to develop your skills and knowledge..

I'm not saying the next job will be a walk in the park but you would have a much easier time of it if the family wasn't involved in the kitchen and judging you at the same time.  Getting fired might be the best thing that could happen but hopefully you will find another job before then.

post #3 of 5

@Brutuzrawk

I don't have a lot of time. I may PM you later in the night. There is one thing I thought of immediately . It is very difficult to command respect

from the staff if you worked your way up from the pit. Most owners will still view you in the pit in the back of their minds. That's the reason they feel they can rip you a new one.

GTG

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brutuzrawk View Post
 

This thread is an opporunity to share experiences of woe, dissatisfaction and frustration in the culinary kingdom, in particular the evolution of self, the undertaking of growth and the ascension of responsibility. Insights into my little tale are valuable but also feel free to share a similar story and perhaps I can extract some wisdom from your experiences.

I have recently taken on new responsibilities, the kitchen is now my kitchen and I must oversee everything going on now. I took this job 'head chef' after 7 years of grinding in the back of house from the lowly title of dishwasher/kitchenhand, to day prep, to working the pass, to grill and a touch of sous chef. I have no formal education, I've come along way but oh lord there's a long way to go. I'm so stressed and psychologically encumbered, it's been to date mostly a mind-game. I wonder, after six months, if maybe I'm not cut out for the gig, perhaps I fair better as a sous chef. Internally I quit about twice a week, it never manifests, I never actually pull the plug but there are moments where I concede. Usually after copping the shits from the business owners when I fuck up a night of service. I really want to be a part of a more reputable, more expensive dining experience and cook for less people. It's far more satisfying than a manic pub or a bar. When we're busy it's about 60-80 in 3 hours service with seating capacity of about 45, plus take-away orders. I tend to lose it around the 30 covers mark.... that's not good at all.... 60 should rattle me, not half that much. It's slow season so I can analyse the position better, but fuck me i feel like a headless chicken sometimes.

I also can't help but notice how the standards of my employers are of course arbitrary but fluctuating. It's a family business: 2 parents one son all working in the kitchen and out. I have had far too many reprimands over poor prep, in particular not cutting the vegetables perfectly (it's japanese, this is a crime of crimes). However when I observe some of their completed works I find inconsistency and general human fallibility as well. Yet if I drop the bar (not even alot either) I get in loads of shit and my night is ruined, utterly frustrated, angry and ready to scream "I quit!". They have issued official 'poor performance' reviews and I have 4 weeks to raise the bar on my game or it's termination time. Pressure's on right? I know I can do this gig but I feel like it's taking me forever to master the delegation and problem solving techniques during dinner service. I burn shit every now and then, Gyoza's in particular. I have 6 burners as a grill. 2 fish pans, 3 teflon, and 4 big-ass deep sutee-ing pans (basically stainless steel woks, but totally curved, no flat base, half a sphere with a handle, can't find their proper name online....) SO it's not like a hotel with shitloads of pans to be tossed into the dishpit, NOPE! I sell 5 mains and I'm hooped. I have to juggle cooking and washing my own pans, plus making sure the pass isn't dragging as well as co-ordinating with the tempura deep frying.

 

We have our nights, it's not all doom and gloom. But still it's like the train has just left station and I'm bloody Indiana Jones on a horse tailing right behind trying to catch up. This does wonders for my sleeping cycle, which is a loaded gun when you start at 9am and finish around 1030pm. Who started the standard with hours like these? I still find it odd... When I'm well rested after my 2 days off I'm in the zone, come Saturday however you gotta ignore the fatigue and move forward. I also don't even feel like cooking at home anymore, I get this sentiment 'someone cook FOR ME today', it's my turn to be served please and thank you. This is a big drag cuz my home kitchen is like a church, a sanctuary a place to meditate and find that inner peace, that zen. So I'll go my 2 days off eating takeaway and then prep a bunch of lunches and dinners to freeze for the week ahead on my last night off, and in that time I snap and go 'wait I do still enjoy my kitchen at home, I just need a good reason to crack the eggs...' I'm also single as shit and don't have much of a social life, those two days off for me are spent in solitude, I just want to be alone but I'm starting to feel like that isolation may be doing me more harm than good.

 

Can you relate? Do I persist? Is this a test of strength? Am I to emerge from this period with a sharper skill and prowess? I can't even tell, I fell like a drowning mouse spinning in the whirlpool of an unflushable toilet wondering how the hell I even found myself in such a state.

 

Sincerely,

- Honest and paranoid.

 

 

As aggravating as it is to hear this, which I'm sure you do all of the time, It sounds like you are more focused on the weaknesses rather than the strengths of your team... Instead of looking at all of these problems as a big whole, you should think about the complaints/concerns that your co-workers are having. In my experience, the issue that someone finds most challenging in their crew member position is something that they often excel at while others ignore. As an example, I'm sure you have some cook who maybe moves too slow, but has a great sense of cleaning duties/organization areas.. Try to empower them through that, encourage them by asking them what makes a particular station work or not work, get ideas, et cetera... You can also use this to help build their confidence and speed in prep or the line. Or maybe you have someone else who is delivering poor knife skills, but speeds through the prep list. That person probably is trying to get recognition as well, maybe lower their workload and talk with them about slowing down and speak with them about their ability to empower others to go faster...

In my experience, the biggest mistake that most restaurants make is that they often have a floater, someone who is clearly burnt out yet knows all of the areas well, who constantly has a different station every day. From the surface it appears as though this person cannot keep up with any station you assign them, but perhaps its that they are walking into a constant set-for-fail situation from the aces who know they won't be accountable because so-and-so is running it tomorrow. Maybe speak with that person about what station they like the most or want to excel at the most, and try giving them a break from moving around so much and a more consistent schedule.

I mean, these are all hypothetical situations, but this industry really does come down to catering to people in the end. I think that we often fail as leaders because we're so focused on numbers that nobody wants to come forth and share their ideas to make the restaurant run better together because everyone is constantly afraid of the blame game.... Just some food for thought. Obviously, you're in a rut, I've been there, I'm sure a lot of readers have, but it all starts with how you think about the issues. 

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by panini View Post
 

@Brutuzrawk

I don't have a lot of time. I may PM you later in the night. There is one thing I thought of immediately . It is very difficult to command respect

from the staff if you worked your way up from the pit. Most owners will still view you in the pit in the back of their minds. That's the reason they feel they can rip you a new one.

GTG

I completely agree with this statement, it sucks... I worked up at age 19 from dishwasher to manager within a year and nobody respected me and the owners thought I was just crazy. Sometimes it's best to just go somewhere else and take those hard learned lessons with you there.

Maybe you should just consider looking into going to somewhere else as middle management/lead line/supervisory and starting from scratch from a leadership point and on.

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