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What would you do with a "shouty" chef?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
No longer an issue for me, since I moved on, but I used to have a very angry, shouty chef working in my restaurant. He would berate everyone, from the dishwasher to myself, as manager.
I have dealt with difficult chefs many times over the years, and usually come to agreeable terms with them, but this guy was off the charts.
He insisted that FOH cut the bread for the table, no issue really, but never took the time to teach young waiters how to do it properly. One of the very new staff cut themselves quite badly, and chef cracked up at her, without even acknowledging the fact that she was bleeding profusely.
It was very hard for me, because manager and head chef are same level jobs in my area, perhaps even chef being more senior.
My biggest issue with him was that we had an open kitchen and he could be heard swearing and brow-beating his team by the guests. Many left before eating, in disgust. I took him aside one night to address the problem, but he said such demeaning and confronting things that I just left before mentioning "workplace bullying".
He was cited by the owners after a string of resignations from staff, to no avail.
Eventually, when reported to Fair Work Australia for such actions, he was "let go"
Long after I had left.

We all know the Gordon Ramsay shtick, and it's just that - an act. It sells television, books and it's all quite simply a distillation of the things that make kitchen television interesting.
But to come across a chef in a very ordinary venue, whose food is nothing to get excited about, acting in this way made me very upset.

What say you?
post #2 of 7

My first chef was great. Very kind, gentle, always cracking a joke or two in the kitchen. 

Very good at teaching, very generous with giving us information and teaching us new techniques. VERY PACIENT. 

 

Now after having all these positive attributes her one negative you ask....? SHE WAS AGGRESSIVE. 

 

No she didn´t beat us up or anything, but you have to admit when someone teaches you, shares info with you, is nice, pacient, kind etc.. and you still f*ck up then you are deserving of a good shout and cursing.

I remember one time after working in the kitchen for awhile i made a rookie mistake. 

 

I was working in a Italian/Country Restaurant with my first chef/mentor for the second time in a different place. So i was already in good terms with her from the ghetco. 

I was prepping somethings for dessert (sautee and dessert was my station on this restaurant) and i was a bit busy and just had so many things to do and such little time this day. I think we had an event with our regular service and the event accounted for some new ice cream cake i was making and some pies, and semifredos, i was just packed with icecream and pie crusts for these event reservations that i was unable to complete some basic things for regular service. 

There was this icecream cake that i used to make that rarely ever sold, it was good, but it was just not a high seller, like the other desserts. Anyway it was usually accompanied by a sauce, and this day me being packed with other tasks for dessert, and still prepping things for salad/cold apps and sautee i was a bit in the weeds. 

 

Service starts, and i was busy from the beginning. Sending out apps in general, bruschettas, helping hot apps on risottos, making salads, working sautee, damn this day we were mad busy and i didn´t even have time for a bathroom break. It didn´t help we had hired some extra unseful hands in the kitchen to work with us (she claimed she was a chef, but couldnt even peel oranges at decent speed). Anyway mid service some couples finished there meals and my desserts were flying, my icecream cake though was not being sold at all. Pies were out all day, semifredo, strawberry pie, banana fosters, everything, but this cake just wouldnt leave the fridge. 

1 hour before service SH*T HAPPENS. 

 

20 Clients or so walk in. All reservations.... important people. They eat there meal and...... BUY 20 SLICES OF ICECREAM CAKE.

First one cake doesnt give off 20 slices.... second THERE WAS NO SAUCE. Me being busy didnt make the sauce because even on fast nights the cake hardly ever sold. Well imagine little old me in the kitchen scrabbling because of some stupid sauce i didn´t make. Well the Chef found out (as all good chefs do). And yeh she cursed at me, swore,got angry, went on a rage. Of course the kitchen was not an open kitchen so just the kitchen staff heard. But i was embarrassed. Rookie mistake that shouldn´t have even been made.

I had to delay all the deserts for 20 people just to make a stupid sauce to serve. THANK GOD I HAD MADE 2 ICE CAKES, or im positive it would have been a lot worse. 

 

SO do i think being verbally aggresive in the kitchen is okay?? In a way yes, it depends on the kitchen. It depends on the chef. If the chef has your respect, teaches, and you DESERVED IT, then i don´t think there is any reason for you to even feel offended by some words in the kitchen. Now if the chef is terrible, and just shouts for the sake of shouting thinking that will get his point across well.... i don´t think it would be wrong for you to feel offended, and maybe even get defensive.  

 

A chef that screams/shouts and offends others for NO REASON, with no control, and is contributing to the choas and disruption of the flow in the kitchen, needs to back off and maybe find a new way to handle problems. Now if the staff also gets easily offended i think they should also know that "what happens in the back of the house, stays there" and in some situations the chef can justify being agressive during service, but never after... If he is an offensive/aggressive after service, then maybe he/she is just simply an a-hole or lacks people skills. 

 

As for Ramsay, it is Hell´s Kitchen, the name speaks for itself...

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #3 of 7

Your story about the bread incident totally reminds me of a chef I worked with. He insisted that the bread service be done in this fashion:

 

Load a linen lined basket with 5 different types of hot rolls from an Alto Shaam

 

Go to table and offer each guest (Whom, having just been seated are in conversation) a selection of the 5 artisan breads

 

Use tongs to place a roll on guests B&B

 

Continue with other guests

 

Return unused bread to Alto Shaam

 

This! plus explain the tapenades (Sundried tomato and katamala olive) when the guests just want butter, which was given only by request.

 

Needless to say every other point of service for the backwaiter suffered terribly, that is until the smart ones just started choosing one type of bread on the slick and explaining it once. Not 5 different breads to 4+ different guests.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
A chef that screams/shouts and offends others for NO REASON, with no control, and is contributing to the choas and disruption of the flow in the kitchen, needs to back off and maybe find a new way to handle problems. Now if the staff also gets easily offended i think they should also know that "what happens in the back of the house, stays there" and in some situations the chef can and can justify being an a-hole during service, but never after... If he is an a-hole after service, then maybe he is just simple an a-hole or lacks people skills.


Kaique, thanks for your story.
I totally agree that a good head chef sometimes needs to be a hard arse. I'm a hard arse with my waiters when need arises.
I have a motto that I'm not paid to be your friend, I'm here to make money so we all keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.
But the chef I spoke about in my original post was totally out of line, even by my standards. I'm used to the "heat in the kitchen " and when things go wrong, I'm always able to find a way to fix things. It's my job.
Oh, and he was just an arsehole. No question.
post #5 of 7

I have worked for screaming, loud mouthed, abusive, and vulgar Chefs.

 

From my understanding and perspective a person with this personality suffers from very low self esteem, so all the huffing and puffing is really more on them then who they take it out on.

The emotional outbursts actually make the bore feel better about themselves as they belittle others.

These types of personalities do not change, nor do they listen to reason.

 

Many of them have drug and alcohol dependencies to help them struggle, only adding to the problem.

post #6 of 7

I feel the exact same as Chefross. These types of chefs are almost always people with low self esteem. When you have worked with them for a while, they pick you to go off on mainly because they know you'll walk in the next day.

This also brings to mind something else. The yelling. I've spent a lot of time is very small kitchens in Europe and here. I absolutely think it's an occupation hazard for you're hearing. There is so much noise going on all the time. That makes you yell. The worst thing is that constant noise from all the compressors in the kitchen. I started About 5 years ago wearing and making my guys wear the little blue ear plugs.

Sometimes I would run by to check on my Mom after closing and I can always remember her asking why I was yelling at her.

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 #7 of 7

There is always a lot of pressure on a Chef in any kitchen. The pressure comes with being in a business that gives no second chances to do it right. Every meal, every time have to be perfect. Some Chefs don't handle this real well when things don't go as planned. Now take this pressure and surround yourself with a crew of cooks and prep people that aren't really career minded, hungover and bitching about everything. You would yell too!!!!!! God invented walk-ins so Chefs have a place to go when they are frustrated and ready to kill everyone in the kitchen. So far the Walk-in has worked, But, I can't promise it will work forever. So, that being said, know that the Chef is under a lot of pressure to preform at 100% all the time. Do your part in making their life easier instead of throwing throwing a wrench in the spokes everyday......

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