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ADVICE: how to keep going

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Alright i apologize in advance this might be a little on the longer side.

So here it goes.

Background: I'm a female, i have worked in only the food industry only seriously for the past 3 years. I'm 24 and have only worked in one fine dining/high rep place, which is the one I'm currently at. i graduated from le cordon bleu with no serious culinary experience prior. so i learned all of my foundation and basics at school.


Okay so this is what I'm trying to deal with. i work about 14-16 hours a day only 4 days a week because thats only when we are open. This restaurant is very different from most, no servers, we serve the food, we cook the food, we buss, we pour drinks, pretty much everything. so theres A LOT that i am trying to absorb and learn, but i just feel like I'm really struggling trying to do it all. And i just keep getting yelled at. I am seriously trying my best, without losing my mind. the other day my exec, chef/owner told me i wasn't learning fast enough. and have been told on numerous occasions that " i need to do more". and I'm just at a point where i really don't know what I'm doing thats wrong. they give me a "recipe" and i make most of them fairly well, with the obvious numerous questions because of their standards that i have to keep i want to ensure that i am doing it properly. i am even going it at 9am sometimes to keep up with my  station prep and we are normally at work until 2:30 am. Side note menu has changed completely already since i started 6 weeks ago, so that was fun. and now they are asking me to change the soups, and ice cream every week. and i seriously feel so pushed far past what I'm capable of doing without cracking. Are they pushing me because they see potential? are they pushing me because i'm not up to par yet? should i say something? what do i even say without sounding like a "p****" for a lack of better words. i'm trying to learn FOH as well, Drinks, how to ring in tickets and give guests their checks. I know i have so much to learn, and i am seriously trying to absorb as much information as humanly possible. but for me maybe I'm not used to the lack of sleep and this demanding of a chef. i have worked in other restaurants that were extremely busy, but i knew what i was doing, menu didn't change nearly as much as this does, or i was comfortable in the kitchen so it was easier to take on more tasks, i even moved up to filling in for my assistant manager who was getting fired, when i had only worked that restaurant for a year and a half. i know I'm capable, and i am giving this my all.

 any advice for this young buck about pushing through, and trying to keep my head high through the really terrible days.


Please. and thanks.

post #2 of 15
I have but one piece of advice.

Even if it means traveling to another larger city save up some money and make reservations at a restaurant that you would consider fancy.
Then take a few of those four days take a little trip and have your eyes opened.

In the meantime read a few books based on fine dining restaurants...a couple of them stand out ( per se, French Laundry) are a couple of my favorites.

White tablecloths and linen napkins do not fine dining make......

Edited by flipflopgirl - 12/7/15 at 4:24am
post #3 of 15
Sounds like this chef is either 1. going broke or 2. a real penny pincher with no intention of going broke.
No one can learn all of the stations (much less master them in 6 weeks).
If it were me I would dust off my CV and start beating the streets.

I have posted more than once that cross training is paramount to a healthy business (not just F&B) but to do it all at once is just asking for trouble.

Edited by flipflopgirl - 12/7/15 at 4:28am
post #4 of 15

i agree with FlipFlopGirl...   but would add, your being ridden like a donkey. Check out some other places, maybe step down a level so you can "catch up". Training is nice and all but quality of life is really important as well. If your permanently stressed out this place is not right for you. My first chef pushed me way beyond my boundaries and it helped allot down the road but in hindsight it would have been better to have even just a bit of a life away from the stove. Having cooks serving drinks is just kinda , strange...

post #5 of 15

I've never seen a restaurant that the front line cook had to prep,serve,bus, give drinks,take money and so on. It looks like you are determened to succeed and I praise you for that. I think in a few cases your Chef is to blame. If a Chef has a cook that is eager to succeed, do it right and learn. t And that Chef doesn't help them, shame on the Chef. It's up to us as Chefs to help people that want to be helped. I would meet with the Chef tell Him/Her that you would like to get better at your job. You want to do it right your just struggling and it is keeping you up at night. It's up to a Chef to train, teach and help his/her employees succeed. Don't beat yourself up over this talk to the Chef and tell them what your going through. I have never not helped a person that worked for me that asked for help getting better at their job. If the Chef doesn't help you succeed. your working for the wrong person. Get this off your chest, you'll feel a lot better and be on the path to building up your self-esteem that is getting knocked to hell........Chin up, chest out now knock on his/her door ......Welcome to Cheftalk............Good luck



Edited by ChefBillyB - 12/7/15 at 6:45am
post #6 of 15

Heh where do you work?  Travail?

post #7 of 15
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

Heh where do you work?  Travail?

I know!  I was thinking Petite Crenn!

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice everyone, I think i'm going to have to chat with my chefs. I really do love my job, some days are just easier than others. 


post #9 of 15

I would actually want to know what exactly it is that you're not learning.  Is your food coming back?  Is your timing off?  Are you missing stuff on the plate?  Are you burning the scallops?

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
I'm just having a hard time learning the drink menu, and different alcohols, I don't know much about booze. Trying to get all my prep done before service. Wednesday are very heavy prep days and if anything goes wrong or takes longer then expected I normally don't get done on time. I haven't gotten any food returned or anything like that. They normally taste everything on our station so that would make it hard for anything bad to slip through and I'm always tasting my food. With menu changing all the time it's hard to keep up without having that background knowledge that most of them have. So I just need to keep studying the alcohols, the menus ingredients, and cookbooks more on my days off.
post #11 of 15

I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.


1st, 14-16 hrs a day, are you on a salary or hourly and are you being paid overtime if hourly?

2nd There are no servers, bussers or bartenders? This is fine dining? I just don't get the concept.

3rd Do you have to do the washing up also? How many in the kitchen?

post #12 of 15

Believe me Buba there is such a thing.  It's not fine dining like we used to think, no white tablecloths, very casual but innovative food.  It could be prix fixe or not.  Like having a few one chef sushi bars under one roof.


Normally open kitchen too or it can't work.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Our bartenders are also chefs, and we do have a bar back to help out and dishwashers, but for the most part we interact with the guests.

post #14 of 15
The extra drips of info are starting to gel things in my mind.
I was getting this pix of one lone line cook doing all of the work in a very small place.
All sweaty and bent under a banquet tray.....just trying to slog thru the nite.
Made me a bit sad and emotional fer sure.

So what does your house actually look like re potential seating and other employees?
How many on the line and do you guys have a dedicated station?

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Ha, not quiet but i have definitely worked in a kitchen where that was the problem, needless to say i didn't stay very long. We do have designated stations, I'm on the First course/Dessert station and there are technically 2 other people, among others like a couple bartenders, one expo type person and another person  who helps with the majority of the guest interactions such as filling drinks and clearing tables, also helps run food. or jumps behind the line if it gets crazy. The two extra people that aren't on the line help the line if it gets crazy if we need them.

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