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employee boundaries

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

   Im a new cook, 22 years old, only been cooking for about 4 months. I work at a university cafeteria, not the most respected venue to work for i know,and for good reason, but its where im getting my start. And with an awesome young sous chef we just hired, and without the hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant kitchen, its pretty much free culinary school, so im taking advantage of it. Also, since im one of only 4 cooks there at the moment, i take on a lot more responsibility than i would in a traditional kitchen for someone at my stage, i even run the kitchen myself sometimes.

 

  However, most of employees are, to put it bluntly, just plain incompetent. Its especially annoying when im on the line and they like to come behind and stand right next to me when im cooking and watch what im doing, try to put their 2 cents in, or try to rush me when they need something. Or they feel the need to try to clean up after me every 5 seconds. The supervisors will then just say that theyre trying to help , but id rather just be left alone honestly so i can work. like yeah were a team, but being a team player means playing your position, not trying to take on everyone's responsibility . Theres a reason im the one cooking the food and your the one working at the serving line. I dont know how things are done in other kitchens, but the way i feel is if your not a cook, i dont want you behind the line for any reason. and i already know if it comes down to me confronting them about it, im not going to be polite, especially in the heat of the moment. And im not sure if i should bring it up in our next " team huddle" in the kitchen, because i dont want to come off to management as if im being rude and dont get long with employees, but they frustrate the crap out of me sometimes.

 

Any chefs/ restaurant owners have any thoughts on this?

post #2 of 13

You are 22 years old and you have been cooking for 4 months. How are you able to access those around you and make the determination that they are incompetent?

 

By the way....college cafeteria cooking is a respectable accomplishment. Congrats, good luck and keep on cooking>

post #3 of 13

@freddy12712

Hey freddy, I'm not trying to bag on you for any reason. I'm just having a hard time understanding the gist of your post. You mentioned team. You're young in age and career, but in the two small paragraphs written there's  maybe 30,  I - I"m -Me. Maybe 5, Them - They. I'm thinking that there may be a little lack of respect for what others around you are really doing. Also a little lack of respect for what you're actually doing. Every position and job has a meaning and should be respected, especially in this industry. It's very easy to start looking at things the way you are. I've done it.

Not saying you watch a lot of TV or anything but the media has a skewed vision of the industry. The TV chefs, well. Later for that.

When I start feeling the way you are, I have some great medicine. Go, sit and watch the breakfast cook at busy Waffle House for a while, or any breakfast joint. Or go watch a cook/server in a busy Diner. You probably won't see these positions respected much, especially in the media but

I hold positions like theirs way up high.

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 13

"And im not sure if i should bring it up in our next " team huddle" in the kitchen, because i dont want to come off to management as if im being rude and dont get long with employees, but they frustrate the crap out of me sometimes."

 

You are coming across here as if you are being rude and don't get along with employees. 

   

     An important lesson to learn is the ability to communicate calmly and politely with your fellow employees while working hard under pressure. 

When a fellow employee comes up and stands next to you, you should be able to inform them calmly that it is better if they give you some room while you are working because you are concerned you might knock them over or otherwise injure them. Stating "Behind You" in a calm, clear and decisive voice is common practice in all kitchens. 

    When someone is cleaning up after you, say "Thank You for your help."  This concern of yours also makes me wonder if you have yet developed the ability to work clean and neat. What are they cleaning up? Are you leaving a lot of spills and drips everywhere? Do you not remove dirty dishes and containers to the dish room right away? Cardboard boxes and food containers left on your station? Put yourself in their shoes. Why do you think they feel the need to clean up after you in the first place?  I know experienced cooks who do all of this so with only four months experience, I suspect you could do better. Most importantly, are you working where the customer/students can see your station? What does your station look like to them? If they can't see your station, what would it look like to them if they could see it? 

     Being a team player doesn't just mean playing your position. It means being able to do your job while being willing to help out anywhere and for anyone at any time. 

     After decades of working in standard restaurant kitchens, two years ago I joined a campus foodservice company. I have found that while the style and pace of the food production is much different than the one in commercial restaurants, the people part is the same. If you are pleasant, look after your own business and are always willing to help others, they will be pleasant and willing to help you in return. The bad employees quickly get singled out. 

   Most importantly, stop thinking everyone else is incompetent.  Listen to your supervisors. They are telling you the other employees just want to help. They have been given the supervisors position for a reason. You might want to speak privately with them to get feedback on what you could be doing better rather than find fault with everyone else. 

post #5 of 13

i agree with everyone. personally i much prefer a one-to-one chat to try and solve any problems. if that doesn't work, then escalate.

in the past some people have had an issue with me being too "intense", i felt like i just care more than they did. the point being a kitchen, any kitchen MUST WORK AS A WHOLE or the entire train crashes. it sounds like you really care about any food you are preparing and that is a quality that will serve you very well as your career progresses. this could be a great environment to hone those "management" skills that will also later on turn you from a cook into a chef. when you do eventually have your own menu/kitchen the ability to hone the skills of those around you rather than continually hirer more and more replacements will work in your favor. its MUCH easier to slightly up-skill a current employee than get (even a really good) new employee up to speed. good luck and keep your eye on the prize.

post #6 of 13
Just try to come up with something witty and clever to say next time it happens, like… "Hey, when you're finished cleaning that, can you clean my car out too?" Or, when they're watching you cook, ask them "Are you going to eat it for them too?" Shitty examples, I know, but you get the point.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

wow..thank you guys for giving me the hard truth,maybe i should try to respect employees more and put my ego aside.

post #8 of 13

good cooks have an ego, for super happy customers. if the ship is falling apart, the customers wont be happy and your ego goes down the toilet.

post #9 of 13

Freddy,

 

First of all, we've all been there.  And to be honest, the first time I felt like you do... I really didn't have the experience or knowhow to even think like that... perhaps this is too early in your career to start feeling superior to anyone.

 

But as I said, we've all been there.  I'll tell you what I learned.  Whether I was wrong or right in my opinion, it was absolutely the wrong thing to do to act on it.  No good will come of it.  You cant possibly expect your management to discipline everyone based on your opinion, and having them intervene on your behalf will just make it worse.  Whether your co workers are good cooks or bad cooks... they are cooks, and they love having a common enemy. Don't let it be you.

 

My best advice is to keep doing you job to the best of your ability.  Learn all you can. There will be a chance at some time for you to move on, take that chance.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Cantin View Post
 

Freddy,

 

First of all, we've all been there.  And to be honest, the first time I felt like you do... I really didn't have the experience or knowhow to even think like that... perhaps this is too early in your career to start feeling superior to anyone.

 

But as I said, we've all been there.  I'll tell you what I learned.  Whether I was wrong or right in my opinion, it was absolutely the wrong thing to do to act on it.  No good will come of it.  You cant possibly expect your management to discipline everyone based on your opinion, and having them intervene on your behalf will just make it worse.  Whether your co workers are good cooks or bad cooks... they are cooks, and they love having a common enemy. Don't let it be you.

 

My best advice is to keep doing you job to the best of your ability.  Learn all you can. There will be a chance at some time for you to move on, take that chance.

Well at first, they had me prep and cook on the tableside saute station in the dining room, to kind of test and train me for working in the kitchen. I got a lot of praise from customers everyday saying that they loved my food and that im a great cook. Probably an unhealthy amount of praise for someone so early into my career, i guess it went to my head and thats when the cockiness started. I felt like i knew everything already. It wasnt until i got my ass handed to me in the kitchen and people telling me that i went from being a nice kid to being rude and nasty to people that i started to humble myself and realize i was wrong.

post #11 of 13

Sounds about right.  I've certainly been put in my place a couple of times in my career. 

You learned from it and came away without being bitter.  That's a sign of being a good cook.

post #12 of 13

At first I didn't see the point to your post like panini pointed out, but I also work at a university cafeteria. You mentioned there are only 4 cooks at your school? I work with 30 other cooks not including dishwashers, utility, cashiers, supervisors and chefs so I know all too well about employee boundaries. I am also young and don't have many years cooking so needless to say I've said 'fuck off' to one too many people over time, recently was this Tuesday. The dishwasher was standing behind me staring at my work while I was trying to put out a late order for catering. Having a positive attitude and being friendly/approachable is just as important as working hard. I've read too many stories of line cooks that never move up because they have a bad attitude. As far as your employees go and even incompetent management they will get in your way, they will bother you while you are tired and want to go home but its something you have to learn to deal with.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

it was more of just a rant, but yeah, on my shift, its only 4 of us, including the sous chef. It is really easy to lose your cool in the kitchen, especilly at the other non-cook employees, because theyre not moving at the same pace that we are, and they dont have the same standards it seems like. And im not sure how all chefs feel about it, but coming up and standing next to me and watching me work is really fucking annoying . But yeah its important just to keep a positive attitude.

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