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Having trouble respecting head chef

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hi
I would just like some advice on stuff I'm experiencing at work.
I work in a busy cafe with 2-3 chefs. I'm sous chef
And I'm having trouble working with my head chef. As a person he is great, but as a head chef.. I struggle I always respect my superiors but my head chef is lazy, avoids work as much as possible, is unhygienic (scratching his head, sneezing and coughing on food with out washing hands) and goes missing from the kitchen very often thought out service leaving one chef to cope with very busy rushes. The way he operates the kitchen/service is very confusing and equipment in the kitchen is barely working making service very difficult to cope with the volume of tickets. I'm trying to be patient and respectful, but am finding myself getting really frustrated at his apathy. We have mice in the kitchen and he constantly leaves food packets open over night on the shelves.
My frustration is being noticed and is starting to cause friction. The hours are good, pay not so much but I like the other staff I work with and the job in general. It would just be better if the leader did a better job.
Am I being disrespectful?
TIA
post #2 of 18

I don't know about disrespect so much, but in my experience, those under a boss, many times feel like they could do the job better than the boss.

 

There are always at least three sides to every story. In this case there is yours. There is your boss's. There is reality.

 

Quote:
 head chef is lazy, avoids work as much as possible

Could be that when he is avoiding work, he is actually doing paperwork, scheduling,, ordering, talking to purveyors, etc.

 

Quote:
 goes missing from the kitchen very often thought out service leaving one chef to cope with very busy rushes.

Could be that when he is avoiding work, he is actually doing paperwork, scheduling,, ordering, talking to purveyors, etc. and the rushes might be very manageable (comes down to perspective, what you might view as a rush, I might deem as a walk in the park).

 

Quote:
 equipment in the kitchen is barely working making service very difficult to cope with the volume of tickets.

In what way is the equipment barely working? Also he may agree with this opinion and has expressed as much to owner, who has yet another opinion and adds another side to the story.

 

I am not taking the chef's side. I am not taking your side. It is too hard to provide a solid opinion from this side of the keyboard having only heard your side. What is obvious though is that the chef is not meeting your standards.

Quote:
 My frustration is being noticed and is starting to cause friction.

You might ask chef if you could come in on a day off/ off the clock, just to shadow chef for a day to give you a better perspective of things from his side and widen your knowledge at the same time.

 

 

 

On a side note

Quote:
 coughing on food with out washing hands

Washing your hands ain't going to make coughing on food any more sanitary  :~)  :chef:  " just ribbing you a bit"

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 18

 If I'm a Chef I am always looking to better myself. If I'm in a position that I'm not growing, I'll look for better. Make the best of where your at while looking for better......In order to be real successful as a Chef you need to love it. In order to really love it you need to be in a place that allows you practice your skills and love the people who are involved with you. Life isn't a chore and work is a big part of out lives. The time you spent at this job wasn't wasted. You learned many lessons of how you don't want to be when your in charge........Chef Bill

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice
No, he isn't doing paperwork.. He has pushed that into me. He is out having cigarette breaks.
i live my job as a chef and realise every workplace there are issues. I just don't think it's too much to work with people who work as a team and take pride in their job. I always go above and beyond and feel my work ethic is being taken advantage of while others slack off.
Oh, did I mention the manager is head chefs wife? So there's no going to management.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Chef bill, awesome advice.
Thanks
post #6 of 18
It's why almost all of our restaurants in the U.S. are average at best....

Damn near all the population is average at best, especially when it comes to work ethic.
It's why Michelin star restaurants are so incredibly RARE.

Is making amazing food to feed to a large quantity of people at a decent price really rocket surgery? No , but when you're working with a population that does not have a great work ethic nor the desire to posses a great work ethic ... Running a restaurant...
OR simply just WORKING in a restaurant becomes much harder if you're somebody who wants to do things the right way, and not half @ss things just to save .50 cents or 10 extra minutes of hard work.
post #7 of 18
All I'm saying is... I know what you mean.

I'm still VERY new to the industry , only been a line cook for 10 years now.

However, I know the MAIN reason this industry is looked at as "SO HARD" to succeed and have a good career in.... Is simply because , the people chefs have to work with in this country, are quite simply, LAZY.

If I could clone myself or another solid cook/chef that I know, I would have 3 or 4 Michelin star restaurants within a few years.
Am I that good? Hell to the NO. Am I better than 75% of the other people I've seen linecook in my life? Yeah.
As I say, "I suck, I'm not good, but I'm a lot better than the rest of these idiots."

Somehow I think...damn near any other industrialized country would be significantly easier to make amazing restaurants in.
post #8 of 18

That's a tough one.  While I was finishing my degree in business I took a step back to cooking the line.  During the time it took me to get done with school I worked for a couple chefs, one really good one but one really bad one. Sadly that last one was a shoemaker.  He was fairly lazy too but setting that aside it's really hard to respect a shoemaker.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #9 of 18

I tried to play devil's advocate in my reply, but some head chefs just aren't salvageable and it is sounding more like your head chef might fall into this category. Look for a more positive atmosphere with a strong chef and where teamwork is not just a word, but actually exists. Life is too short to pull other people's weight.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #10 of 18
Same thing happen to where I work now.
Sat down with head chef and tell him everything Im not happy or not satisfied.

I know he had been doing paperwork and stuff at some point but that is not an excuse when the kitchen was slammed hard.

But that is not an excuse to be given when all we want is a happy customer and everyone is trying hard to push the quality up.

After sitting down with him, he did come into kitchen to help out whenever possible.

After he help us out time to time, we did help him as much as possible on his ordering/scheduling etc.

We are a team after all and most thing can be solved by simply discussing it over like an adult/professional.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by rndmchef View Post





If I could clone myself or another solid cook/chef that I know, I would have 3 or 4 Michelin star restaurants within a few years.


 

I want to go to that Michelin 4 star restaurant.  It would be very special.

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimyra View Post
 

I want to go to that Michelin 4 star restaurant.  It would be very special.

 

I think he was talking about the number of restaurants, not the number of stars. As in, "I could have 4 Michelin starred restaurants by then," not "I'd have a Michelin 4 star restaurant."

post #13 of 18

I think you may be correct. 

post #14 of 18

Be a solution.  Granted there are never enough hours in the day for a Chef to get done what needs to get done majority of the time, but find ways to make your livelihood better there.  If taking ownership in getting rid of mice or bugs will help you feel more comfortable and confident to do your job to the best of your ability for example, then make it happen that's what chefs do.  There are a million ways to get from point A to point B and not everyone will agree on a path, but pick one and own it.  I am not standing up for him, but use these standards and trust in your moral compass and remember them to better yourself at that place and where ever you may end up in the future.

post #15 of 18

Okay time for my story. 

I work in a restaurant, formal, not casual but not fne dining how i love. 

I´m big on modern/contemporary cuisine, and i´m big on asian/african/latin cooking i love big flavors. The place is basically italian/brazilian very plane jane menu but it´s not the worst place to work at. 

 

There are two chefs in my kitchen. The morning chef and the night chef. I work 2 weeks in the morning and 2 weeks at night, so i get to have two types of work experiences. 

The morning chef is extroverted, very high on energy, very nice and i think he as a friend he is great, as a cook he´s terrible. He gets easily frazzled, he´s lazy, he doesnt prep, he kisses a lot of arse especially our exployers arses and he´s just down right a clown. He doesnt do paperwork, he doesnt develop menu ideas, he hardly even has contact with our purveyors. I have more contact with our reps, i develop and experiment new menu ideas, and some days i do my prep and his prep pre-service. So you can bet i get pretty mad seeing someone put in no effort while i do so much and get poorly rewarded (no $$$$ for me). 

Not that i want to be the chef, but you know giving me a salary boost wouldnt be a bad deal considering im doing his job lol. 

The dude is nice and all, but im there to work and progress, everyday i do my best or attempt to so i don´t know why he just cant put his best foot forward. Hés the kind of dude that marks his presence in the kitchen just for the salary, i´m sure if he could just show up clock in, sleep and clock out he would. 

 

The other chef, the night chef is great. He teaches me a lot, gives me recipes, stays by myside and really tries to pass on his knowledge and positively influence me. He does paperwork, he also has contact with purveyors, and develops menu ideas. He works fast, preps a lot with the kitchen staff. 

His problem is that he is not the cleanest in the kitchen, he cleans but very little, actually he avoids doing the tough/heavy cleaning in the kitchen, and i think its imporant for a chef to be that role model even during the pesky tasks so its a strike i have always had against him, that and aside from the cleaning he has a tough atitude. 

Some may call him rude or harsh, and there have been cooks who have had verbal arguments with him in and out of the kitchen, but he is my chef and how can i not respect the dude teaching me something. So actually i accept the critics and try to be professional and take in what he is saying and interpret it as a form of showing he cares. 

Actually he really doesnt treat me poorly, i´m probably among the few cooks that some may be considered priveldged by him, just because he does not treat me as poorly as the others. 

 

What i do is always consider the positive. The place i work at has four partners, all are very good people, there not the best bosses, but there certainly not the worst, and they really do try to establish a relationship with the staff, and i being the professional i am and always trying to just be a good person, have a good relationship with all of them. 

Since they are my bosses in reality and are the ones who pay my salary i focus on making sure my work is making not only the chefs happy but them as well. 

 

With the first chef i mentioned, i just do all the work, i just work over him, put out food, and try to do my best. If he gets in my way i´ll just run him over. I work clean and quiet finish both our preps, let him think he is being vital to the service and finish the day on a high note not strangling him in the kitchen and getting good raves on my food. My bosses are well aware that he isnt putting in the effort and kitcen staff has been noticing i´m putting in a lot of work, I don´t want his position, but i do want him the hell out of the kitchen. Regardless of me liking him or not i´m there to work, and if i am unhappy and unsatisfied with myself and the food i am putting out noticing that my job is in fact the reason for any negativety i will just quit. 

We already work in a tiring and ruthless industry, what we do is absuive to our bodies and minds, so what gets us through it is the ecstacy of working and  enjoying what we do, if a line cook is unhappy while already in an environment like ours then he needs to seek happiness else where. 

 

Thats where the night chef comes in. Even though he is labeled the a**hole, he is the guy that works the hardest, that teaches me and mentors me. He is the guy keeping sh*t in check, and even though he isn´t the best chef i have worked with it isn´t bad working with him. His personality isn´t the best, and he is very assertive and verbally aggressive in the kitchen, but i can understand that sometimes the mistakes i or the staff makes definetely would deserve a backhand slap lol. So the solution is to do my best, work had, double check, organize and not make mistakes or at least avoid making them as much as possible. So far its getting me well noticed and i´m winning him over. 

 

If you are working, putting in the time and effort and your chef is obviously the weak link in the kitchen maybe it may just be your time to work else where. After all cooks look for guidance and mentorship, they are there to learn as well even if it is something involuntary. Do you feel like your progressing, learning, and feeling content with your job?? If your answer is no, then you probably already know the next step. Sometimes the chef may just seem inactive and could be interpreted as being lazy, when he is in fact "a jedi master, like yoda" who´s appearence fools you. In other situations he would maybe just be marking his presence to make sure he is earning his wage like the morning chef i work with.

 

Sorry for the long post, hope i offered something useful. 


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 5/31/16 at 9:03pm

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

Reply
post #16 of 18

Great post, KK!  The mentors who do the most for us very often are not the ones we "like" or think of as our friends.  As a chef I try to develop and mentor my staff as best I can but my main priority is to insure that the restaurant makes money.  That's my bottom line.  If I coddle the cooks and let them do whatever they might be happy but when the place goes down the drain they'll be out on the bricks looking for work.  I really try to set a good example by letting them know that I work harder than they do.  It's a balancing act to be sure.  Typically the best use of my time is not cleaning the grease trap. But at the same time I did spend a couple hours pounding it out in the dishroom Sunday night.  I think it's important to let people know that no one is "too good" for any job, and that includes me.

 

Next to demonstrating work ethic I think it's important to be fair to the guys and gals you lead.  It's expected that  you'll like some of them more than others on a personal level but the staff has to know that you will treat everyone the same.

 

Not everyone will always like you but if you treat people with respect and dignity and keep your word when you give it, it will go a long way towards keeping the team all working with you instead of against you.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #17 of 18

I have seen this in the industry lots of times. Sometimes the owner catches on to it and deals with the issue but most times not.

 

It can be very frustrating for guys like yourself. Maybe have a private chat with the owner about it.

 

Good luck

post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post

Great post, KK!  The mentors who do the most for us very often are not the ones we "like" or think of as our friends.  As a chef I try to develop and mentor my staff as best I can but my main priority is to insure that the restaurant makes money.  That's my bottom line.  If I coddle the cooks and let them do whatever they might be happy but when the place goes down the drain they'll be out on the bricks looking for work.  I really try to set a good example by letting them know that I work harder than they do.  It's a balancing act to be sure.  Typically the best use of my time is not cleaning the grease trap. But at the same time I did spend a couple hours pounding it out in the dishroom Sunday night.  I think it's important to let people know that no one is "too good" for any job, and that includes me.

Next to demonstrating work ethic I think it's important to be fair to the guys and gals you lead.  It's expected that  you'll like some of them more than others on a personal level but the staff has to know that you will treat everyone the same.

Not everyone will always like you but if you treat people with respect and dignity and keep your word when you give it, it will go a long way towards keeping the team all working with you instead of against you.

Good, solid points.
I agree 100%.
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