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Redeeming yourself...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I've been in an apprenticeship program at a fine dining establishment for about a year and a half now, and coming from my fast-casual experience it has certainly been a lot of highs and lows. I think that my chefs see my work ethic, but I honestly don't feel like they believe in me.. We're going through another short-staffed period and I've been put on saute by default because of it, and I honestly don't know how to get the lead line cooks my age to take me seriously. The older, more experienced ones have always loved me and things just seem to run more smoothly in the first place with them there.. But lately it's been a few guys my own age that just want to intimidate me and make me feel like dirt since day one. I understand the high pressure aspect, I understand that they're all in similar situations to me, and how hard it is to take me seriously when I used to struggle on understanding french terms in prep work, but i need these guys to like me to make it through this.

I'm 25, 5'2", a female and I weigh 80 pounds, easy target in a lot of aspects... I'm trying so hard it isn't even funny, but sometimes people just play dirty and use you as a scape goat. I have dealt with this for a long time now and in a lot of ways I can't believe where I've come from, but at the same time I always feel like I'm on the cutting board for dismissal in the event of being fully staffed.

This is towards the "middle" of my second year as a chef's apprentice, and my executive chef is very supportive yet very hard, sometimes I wonder if I can make up for my past mistakes? He told me tonight before our busy shift that I need to continue to improve, but I almost feel as though I've hit a wall at times.

Typing this sounds so ridiculous, it's just a saute station but it's the hardest station in our restaurant and nobody is willing to help me through anything here and it all just happens so fast. I don't want to screw people over anymore but I don't even know where to start with stepping up.. More than anything else, I just want them to believe that I can get this stuff down, I mean, I've only done it officially for three shifts, all of which were awful. I wish there was a book I could read on getting out of the weeds but there isn't. I need to know how to gain some respect from other line cooks, sincere respect, so that they don't let me drown with no input. I do understand how to technically make all of these sauces but it's a grind when a few people have written you off long ago.

post #2 of 13

How unfortunate that your line mates can't get their heads out of their asses and realize that you are all part of a team.

post #3 of 13
Over prep, always be ready. Remember the things that go wrong and be ready next time. Know how to control heat, when to back off and when to punch it. Work fast, keep your head down, don't lose focus. If your lead is trying to communicate with you and you can't, that's on you. If they can't/won't communicate, they are dicks.
post #4 of 13

Can you be more specific on what you are having problems with? 

Can you identify in what ways things work smoother with the older cooks? 

As the others have pointed out, prepping your station is vitally important. 

Paying attention during service to the expeditor calling orders and responding appropriately is vital. 

As you said, you are working the hardest station in the restaurant. Three shifts is not really enough time to get a handle on it so don't 

feel too bad about that.

Your chef telling you that you need to keep improving might be just so you don't get over confident. And you should not. Keep improving.

In other words, you're doing fine but don't get cocky. 

Without more information on exactly what you have a problem with all I can suggest is that you keep trying to be better organized. 

Expect it to remain tough. Expect to fight hard to get control of the situation (with yourself, not your coworkers)

Expect it to be stressful, fast and intense. Expect to make mistakes. Learn from them. Figure out ways not to repeat them. 

Anyway, a little more info on specifics would help provide you with better advice. 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

Can you be more specific on what you are having problems with? 

Can you identify in what ways things work smoother with the older cooks? 

As the others have pointed out, prepping your station is vitally important. 

Paying attention during service to the expeditor calling orders and responding appropriately is vital. 

As you said, you are working the hardest station in the restaurant. Three shifts is not really enough time to get a handle on it so don't 

feel too bad about that.

Your chef telling you that you need to keep improving might be just so you don't get over confident. And you should not. Keep improving.

In other words, you're doing fine but don't get cocky. 

Without more information on exactly what you have a problem with all I can suggest is that you keep trying to be better organized. 

Expect it to remain tough. Expect to fight hard to get control of the situation (with yourself, not your coworkers)

Expect it to be stressful, fast and intense. Expect to make mistakes. Learn from them. Figure out ways not to repeat them. 

Anyway, a little more info on specifics would help provide you with better advice. 

Just little things, as you can imagine I work garde manger a lot and got that on pointe with this same crap from lead lines... I am working another station due to staffing issues prior to jumping on, and it's like these guys just give up the second I get on. I understand batch cooking, but they refuse to communicate the orders that they're getting in as they would with other cooks, like they want to see me fail. So I know this, and just jump over to read the tickets myself because they don't answer me, which maybe makes things look worse but I have no choice when I ask and they're already shut down. Sometimes this nice guy on garde manger opts to switch with me when it's too heavy, which helps. But I know it makes me look weak...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

Can you be more specific on what you are having problems with? 

Can you identify in what ways things work smoother with the older cooks? 

As the others have pointed out, prepping your station is vitally important. 

Paying attention during service to the expeditor calling orders and responding appropriately is vital. 

As you said, you are working the hardest station in the restaurant. Three shifts is not really enough time to get a handle on it so don't 

feel too bad about that.

Your chef telling you that you need to keep improving might be just so you don't get over confident. And you should not. Keep improving.

In other words, you're doing fine but don't get cocky. 

Without more information on exactly what you have a problem with all I can suggest is that you keep trying to be better organized. 

Expect it to remain tough. Expect to fight hard to get control of the situation (with yourself, not your coworkers)

Expect it to be stressful, fast and intense. Expect to make mistakes. Learn from them. Figure out ways not to repeat them. 

Anyway, a little more info on specifics would help provide you with better advice. 

Well, I think that because of my mistakes on garde manger, which also calls for fish cookery (which I was horrible at) in the past the one I'm thinking of in specific I have screwed over with the liability of it all in the first place. Into it, I have told him to send the chef my way for ticket backups because I take full accountability and it was beyond his control. I feel that it has worked, but it still ultimately falls on him, and he has been on thin ice with the chef for a long time. Culinary school dropout, cuts corners in prep, shuts down when its too busy type. My age, figuring out life... When they put me on saute he was furious and kept on literally pushing me off of the station until the exec chef stepped in and told him that he has to learn to work with me, which maybe made the situation worse. He didn't say a word the last two shifts because of that, just cooked the meats.. Who knows what conversations have happened between them, I understand it isn't entirely about me. But it would be nice to get him to speak to what is selling and what isn't, the menu changes once a week with two specials a day. I try to ask and he just screams about the tickets in front of me to get out... He does not act this way with other saute cooks, he continues to communicate throughout the shift. There is tension and I'm trying to subside it to make it through the older cooks' vacations.

post #6 of 13

If I understand what you wrote, you refer to batch cooking as cooking several of the same items at once in order to fulfill ticket orders that have not yet come in. So when the expeditor needs a chicken for example, you already have it cooked. 

    If that is correct, it is also wrong. Batch cooking is what you do for banquets and buffets, when multiple people will eat the same meal at the same time. 

When working an a la carte line, each order is cooked individually, begun when the expeditor makes the first call and then plated when the ticket is ready to be served. On extremely busy nights it is sometimes okay to begin an extra item or two or three because you can count on selling it very soon after it is cooked. But most of the time, all foods are cooked to order.

In any case, the expeditor calls out the order. Who is on the station is completely irrelevant. To not inform you of what is needed for the ticket is unprofessional and detrimental to a smooth service. The customers suffer and the point of running the kitchen in the proper way is to heighten the efficiency of the food production so the food all goes out when it is supposed to. 

There is no reason why you should have to read the tickets. 

     The other cooks behavior as you describe it is also unprofessional and I'm surprised the chef tolerates it. It may be that being shorthanded makes the chef more tolerant than he should be. 

In any event, how difficult would it be to find another job? Much of what you describe is childish and petty, not appropriate for a professionally run kitchen. Can you ask around and see where else you might work? 

post #7 of 13

Sounds like you're in a shit kitchen. Chefs and leads should be helping you get better, not wanting to see you fail. You succeed as a team, not as individuals. 

 

Where is your chef? You speak of the "lead cooks" but what about the chef? Sounds like you are in over your head for the moment. Doesn't mean you always will be, but sounds like you got jumped up to the hot line before you were ready. Did they give you any training on the station or just throw you to the wolves?

 

There is no substitute for experience...keep trying your best and getting better, day after day. Don't make the same mistakes over and over. Iterate your station...make it cleaner, faster, better all the time. Know why something didn't work, and strive to fix it. 

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

If I understand what you wrote, you refer to batch cooking as cooking several of the same items at once in order to fulfill ticket orders that have not yet come in. So when the expeditor needs a chicken for example, you already have it cooked. 

    If that is correct, it is also wrong. Batch cooking is what you do for banquets and buffets, when multiple people will eat the same meal at the same time. 

When working an a la carte line, each order is cooked individually, begun when the expeditor makes the first call and then plated when the ticket is ready to be served. On extremely busy nights it is sometimes okay to begin an extra item or two or three because you can count on selling it very soon after it is cooked. But most of the time, all foods are cooked to order.

In any case, the expeditor calls out the order. Who is on the station is completely irrelevant. To not inform you of what is needed for the ticket is unprofessional and detrimental to a smooth service. The customers suffer and the point of running the kitchen in the proper way is to heighten the efficiency of the food production so the food all goes out when it is supposed to. 

There is no reason why you should have to read the tickets. 

     The other cooks behavior as you describe it is also unprofessional and I'm surprised the chef tolerates it. It may be that being shorthanded makes the chef more tolerant than he should be. 

In any event, how difficult would it be to find another job? Much of what you describe is childish and petty, not appropriate for a professionally run kitchen. Can you ask around and see where else you might work? 

Perhaps it is childish, and I'm taking accountability for my dented relationship with these few people, coming up isn't easy. It takes two to tango, and although they are ultimately above me I am accountable to be the bigger person as well. I think that staffing issues are prettymuch as bad in fine dining as they are in my sect of expertise in this industry, which honestly surprised me because I make such better money than I used to. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

If I understand what you wrote, you refer to batch cooking as cooking several of the same items at once in order to fulfill ticket orders that have not yet come in. So when the expeditor needs a chicken for example, you already have it cooked. 

    If that is correct, it is also wrong. Batch cooking is what you do for banquets and buffets, when multiple people will eat the same meal at the same time. 

When working an a la carte line, each order is cooked individually, begun when the expeditor makes the first call and then plated when the ticket is ready to be served. On extremely busy nights it is sometimes okay to begin an extra item or two or three because you can count on selling it very soon after it is cooked. But most of the time, all foods are cooked to order.

In any case, the expeditor calls out the order. Who is on the station is completely irrelevant. To not inform you of what is needed for the ticket is unprofessional and detrimental to a smooth service. The customers suffer and the point of running the kitchen in the proper way is to heighten the efficiency of the food production so the food all goes out when it is supposed to. 

There is no reason why you should have to read the tickets. 

     The other cooks behavior as you describe it is also unprofessional and I'm surprised the chef tolerates it. It may be that being shorthanded makes the chef more tolerant than he should be. 

In any event, how difficult would it be to find another job? Much of what you describe is childish and petty, not appropriate for a professionally run kitchen. Can you ask around and see where else you might work? 

Batch cooking, as in, the tickets are in already and you have up to 20 minutes to plate, and the saute cook could start a few tickets early, not as in preparing a bunch to fill the needs for the entire shift. Or just some kind of notice before the ticket is in front of you and you're required to plate up...

I feel that I am equally accountable for these guys' behavior, I am coming up and I was a handful at one point. It couldn't have been easy to constantly get yelled at for my incompetence. However, I want to carry m

Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post
 

Sounds like you're in a shit kitchen. Chefs and leads should be helping you get better, not wanting to see you fail. You succeed as a team, not as individuals. 

 

Where is your chef? You speak of the "lead cooks" but what about the chef? Sounds like you are in over your head for the moment. Doesn't mean you always will be, but sounds like you got jumped up to the hot line before you were ready. Did they give you any training on the station or just throw you to the wolves?

 

There is no substitute for experience...keep trying your best and getting better, day after day. Don't make the same mistakes over and over. Iterate your station...make it cleaner, faster, better all the time. Know why something didn't work, and strive to fix it. 

HA, training...

These guys are not that far off from my skill set is the problem, I think... 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Someday View Post
 

Sounds like you're in a shit kitchen. Chefs and leads should be helping you get better, not wanting to see you fail. You succeed as a team, not as individuals. 

 

Where is your chef? You speak of the "lead cooks" but what about the chef? Sounds like you are in over your head for the moment. Doesn't mean you always will be, but sounds like you got jumped up to the hot line before you were ready. Did they give you any training on the station or just throw you to the wolves?

 

There is no substitute for experience...keep trying your best and getting better, day after day. Don't make the same mistakes over and over. Iterate your station...make it cleaner, faster, better all the time. Know why something didn't work, and strive to fix it. 

I felt this way, too.. I asked to be reconsidered to stay below the hot line because I know I can't handle the volume but my chef basically told me I need to just man up. It's so much pressure on top of school. I don't want to look whiny so I just said okay, but god the liability is just a lot and I'm afraid it'll kill my job security.

post #9 of 13

Wow.

 

All I can say is....such drama.

Sometimes, you just got to step back and look at the situation from a realistic side.

You (collectively) are merely cooks in a restaurant.

You (collectively) are not CEO'S, nor are you any kind of celebrity that makes you think you are more special then anyone else.

 

If this situation continues, it's time to find a place where you can grow and learn.

I believe you know what you need to do.

post #10 of 13

Yeah, what's the point of working there?

post #11 of 13
Saute is hard. Hang in there for a while. Experience on that station will go a long way
post #12 of 13
I think your co-workers are partially to blame, but there are things you can do now to get better and possibly earn some respect.

1.) Consolidate your movements. Make sure you aren't turning a three step process into a five step process. Example. I've seen people toss each individual shrimp into a pan instead of grabbing all three at once. Every few seconds you save pays large dividends throughout the course of a shift.

2.) Don't let them see you sweat. Keep your head up, look confident, and act like you've been there before.

3.) When I burn a piece of fish, or sear a scallop wrong during a busy shift, I don't panic, or dwell on it. Dwelling affects the quality of my work and costs precious seconds. You have to forget about it for the time being.

4.)I usually remember my mistakes after service, and think of rational ways to correct them. For those mistakes that I'm unsure of, I ask the chef about it.

5.) Don't ever try and put bad food in the window. If something isn't made properly, tell the expo you have to refire. My chef may get upset when people make k stakes, but he respects the fact that we take pride in every plate we put into the window. He is much less forgiving if I people knowingly try and pass off bad food.

These are some of the things that earned me respect from my peers. If you do them all, and still don't get respect, or teamwork, I would look for another place to work.
post #13 of 13

5.) Don't ever try and put bad food in the window. If something isn't made properly, tell the expo you have to refire. My chef may get upset when people make k stakes, but he respects the fact that we take pride in every plate we put into the window. He is much less forgiving if I people knowingly try and pass off bad food.

 

 

I can't believe how many times I have been through this. You tell the line that if you wouldn't eat it don't expect someone else to.

You know what I get back?  "Ah I don't eat that stuff."

Me....."You'd better learn."

Burnt food, sloppy plating, no excuse.

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