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Today was my last day as Executive Chef...now what?

Poll Results: 1)Go back or Move on? 2) Day time position? 3) Night time position? Three questions, please pick one answer for each #

This is a multiple choice poll
  • 0% of voters (0)
    1)Go back
  • 100% of voters (3)
    1)Move on
  • 0% of voters (0)
    2)Butcher/Spice/fish market/etc--specific niche type
  • 0% of voters (0)
    2)Don't get one bc Night time job will further burn you out.
  • 33% of voters (1)
    3)Line Cook
  • 0% of voters (0)
    3) Sous
  • 33% of voters (1)
    3) Test current market, aim for sous if unsuccessful look at Line
  • 0% of voters (0)
    3) Find a new profession
3 Total Votes  
post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

First I would like to say...the cheftalk community was correct... I should have left sooner and I thank all of you for the amazing advice i received which i ultimately rejected. I'm young(kinda) and blinded by pride who thinks in the now vs long term development. But I need you guys again and I will follow the advice of the majority opinion of this thread. If you guys like, I will post results of interviews and keep it updated until hired. Thanks again everyone!! 

 

Preface this by apologizing bc it's rather scattered and all over the place, Monster was on sale at 7-11 and...well im here now. 

 

Actually my last day was roughly 25 days ago. I gave my GM a 45 day notice to find a new job. After 70+ resumes, we had 8 suitable applicants and did 8 tastings. Then owners tasting for 3 and then we all discussed on a hire. We worked together for two weeks and I really like the guy as a chef and as a person. My last day he asked me what it would take to stay on as Sous and i said nothing could make me stay. 

 

We text almost everyday and hes begging me to come back as his sous. He's describing very similar problems I had described in my other posts, but the thing that bothers him the most are the GMs and owners. 

 

GMs come in one hour before service and are often late. They've had to reschedule 4 tastings bc they're late. By "they" I mean GM and his Assistant GM. The real issue here is the assistant manager who is like 92% late....they're also dating which makes it hard for GM to fire her.  

 

BOH has gotten more efficient and he saved 6% on hourly payroll within first week and has kept it up. Hired better cooks who are paid fairly. Even with his kitchen manager, they cant seem to get it "right". Its only been a month and hes already asking me to help with brunch(which i did), but now he wants me back and fire Kitchen manager. 

 

 

 

I do not want to go back, but I do respect and like the head chef and I think we could do pretty well. Prior to leaving we got #7 gastropub in my area and three write ups about certain dishes (all about the same one). We would make an awesome team and I know I shouldnt go back, but I'm looking for a few people who have been in similar situations to validate my choice. 

 

Washington DC just got placed in the Michelin Guide...I've compiled a list of about 20 restaurants I want to work at. It would be amazing if I could pull off a sous position, but I may not even be qualified for a sous. 

 

Line cook (all stations) 5 months

Sous chef for 6 months

Executive chef for 7 months 

 

Besides my two week stint at a sushi restaurant, this is my cooking experience and I fear when i go to interviews, they'll ask or form assumptions around my experience since most sous positions I want need 3 yrs exp. This is why i am thinking of going back to my old restaurant and gain more experience.. 

 

Question: Should I go back to old restaurant where FOH is broken and BOH is doing much better due to new chef and new hires or should I move on and start interviewing at other restaurants in spite of my lack of experience? And if leave...should i shoot for sous or go to the line? 

 

My initial plan was to work/stage at a butcher/spice shop or bakery in the day and get a job at night. 

OR 

Prep job in morning bc my knife skills are horrendous compared to my old prep girls and job at night. 

post #2 of 17

in your own words

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cook1st View Post

 

 

I do not want to go back

when you have learned all that you can in that location, move on. even if the new guy has a few things to teach you, the new chef is probably better served to have someone come in that does not have a bad taste for the management, you can just as easily share a beer once and a while with the guy and talk shop but after a while hearing the same bitching stories about the management will become old news that you are done hearing about.

 

part 2 i didn't vote on because i believe that the next opportunity should dictate the choice you make. if you can get a daytime job and work closely with another chef that will show you things then its worth it to work days, if the chef wants someone to cover fro him/her during the day the responsibility may outweigh the hands on education working side by side with a chef that stays late. the real action times in restaurants that are chasing that star are going to be at night. sure the majority of the organization will happen during the day but if you are not part of the chaos moments you are missing out on what happens on a kitchen line that really pushes a restaurant to get that star 

 

you have the experience to be a sous, apply for sous, if you really want to be part of a specific restaurant or work with a specific chef then take a lesser role but be sure that you are always moving forward and learning, striving for advancement its easy for a chef to find a competent line cook and not want to mess with the staff that works and you can get stuck in a position just because you are good at that role just like you can get stuck at a job because "they need you" 
 

 

as Bourdain said. working a line is a young man's job,   the day will come where the job gets in the way of the rest of your life or you just physically cant keep up

 

 quitting a profession and retiring are two very different states of mind, if you are not done yet then go get it. 

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Williams View Post
 

 its easy for a chef to find a competent line cook and not want to mess with the staff that works and you can get stuck in a position just because you are good at that role just like you can get stuck at a job because "they need you" 

 

 

 

 

---Are there any signs I should look out for when interviewing with chefs----I would hate to work at a place and seek advancement, but get the" You're too good at saute, no one can replace you at that station," only to have him do an outside hire for the higher position i thought I deserved? 

post #4 of 17

its hard to tell during an interview, you can ask about potential for advancement, like how many of your line cooks have become sous chefs or exces in other local restaurants  or how long have your sous chefs been there do to get an idea how often there is sous turnover, desire for advancement is a good trait but showing impatience to move up can be a turn off so play that card with caution when asking about advancement.  

 

sous that stick around for a long time, 5 years+, are kind of a barrier for advancement, but sous that stay a few years and go on to exec positions elsewhere is a good sign that the chef is a good teacher.

 

sometimes its not the chef's fault that sous turnover is low, the restaurant landscape of a city will limit the chance for a sous to move on if no new restaurants are opening locally. or if the only restaurants that are opening are chain restaurants that bring in their own management 

 

for me as a chef while it doesnt always work out, my preferred kitchen system would only have sous chefs leave to exec jobs and i only have to hire dishwashers and prep cooks and promote from within, sadly i live in a city where the above is true and there are very few new chef run kitchens here 

 

 

 

 

 * its funny as i typed this it dawned on me that i should seriously consider moving. you can learn just as much when teaching/offering advice as you do receiving it sometimes. its been a really long time since i have heard a conversation about chefs or sous chefs getting poached and its kind of makes me sad that it doesnt happen where i live 

.

post #5 of 17

You should get a line cook job in a good restaurant under a well qualified chef and stop worrying about your advancement. You are still allowing your ego to play a big role in your thinking. 

     There are multiple reasons to work your way up in the traditional way. So far you have been unfortunate in getting advancement you didn't deserve while avoiding the growth inherent in earning your stripes. Time to start over. 

You should understand by now that a title is meaningless if you don't have the skills to back it up. And you don't have the skills to back up a sous position. 

Being a bad ass line cook is a fine thing but leading a kitchen involves learning organization, planning, people management, time management, menu development, good purchasing practices, record keeping as well as knowing how to cook on the fly, handle a crisis or three and have a broad understanding of cooking in general. 

     A good chef also knows how to recognize and develop a support team that includes upper management. In your current situation, upper management will never be the supportive team you need. They didn't do it for you, they aren't doing it for the new chef and nothing is going to change that. 

 Don't waste your time or any one else's beating the dead horse your last job has become. 

Move on to a better environment and start giving yourself the education you know you need. 

post #6 of 17

Cook1st, It's time to walk away. I can't see you being happy in a place you have no respect for owners and management. The reason why you moved up as fast as you did was because of poor management. The management moved you into positions that didn't help you but, keep the kitchen going. This is what happens when you have owners and GM's that can't manage a kitchen. These people come and go as they want. Their not making long range plans and goals for the kitchen. You got rolled up in their inept skills for running a professional operation. I think you need to get back to square one. No restaurant or food service is the same. Some Chefs in some restaurants wouldn't even qualify to work as front line cooks or Sous's in other restaurants. You need to work in a restaurant under Chefs that can teach you management and how to manage people. If you feel you have skills in some areas then get yourself in a position to learn and sharpen your skills in your weaker areas. Be honest with yourself and take a position to learn and not take a position for the glory and title. I always felt if people did their job the best they could, good things will happen. If you take a front line job and your a top notch cook then you s/b in line for a Sous position. Everything that happens to you in the future s/b because of your skills and knowledge to do the job. When you move up in this business it s/b because your qualified not because the kitchen just needs to fill the position. Your last job was filling your needs of ego driven advancement, praise and pats on the back while putting you in a position of uncertainty and lack of skill in some areas. When you sit down with a Chef in the upcoming days be honest with them and explain the situation you were in and how you got the positions. Most Chefs will shake their head and understand when you went through. This business is all about "living through today" get through the service any way possible. Learn and understand that you were put in a position to fail. Now, put yourself in a position to learn and succeed............Good luck .........ChefBill

post #7 of 17

Right on the nose @chefwriter and @ChefBillyB ;)

 

@Cook1st I want you to do yourself a quick favour and click on your profile to see all the threads you have started. The titles alone will tell any well seasoned chef that you have FAR too much to learn still before you even try to get into a supervisory/management role. You need a solid role model that will teach you the important skills it takes to be a good cook. Period. 

 

If you were in my kitchen I would have placed you in the dish pit for two weeks just to check for a few things:

1) Aptitude

2) Attitude

3) Organization

 

I do this for the majority of people regardless of experience so that this lets me know where they are at mentally, emotionally and physically. It will show up straight away if they over exaggerated on their resume. Doing this allows me to see if you can handle a rush in the dish pit through a "get it done" attitude, an organizational mindset and a cleaning as you go skill. If you can handle a rush in the dish pit then I know you can handle a rush on the line. I can work with a "can do" attitude, I can't work with an "I used to be an executive chef this is below me" attitude. Anyway, you get my point.

 

Leave the last place you worked at where it is at.....in your past. Moving forward, look for a line cook position in a good restaurant (check reviews, ask around) and get to learning and accumulating proper experience that will build you up to be a great executive chef one day. :D 

post #8 of 17
Ordinarily I don't do this, but this time I felt some highlights gleamed from your post were appropriate and could possibly answer your own question.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cook1st View Post
 

It would be amazing if I could pull off a sous position, but I may not even be qualified for a sous...Besides my two week stint at a sushi restaurant, this is my cooking experience ...i am thinking of going back... and gain more experience..should i shoot for sous or go to the line?... my knife skills are horrendous compared to my old prep girls and job at night. 

 

I am reminded of the children's story about the the three little pigs and the big bad wolf. What do you want to build your house(career) out of?

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Reply
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fablesable View Post
 

Right on the nose @chefwriter and @ChefBillyB ;)

 

@Cook1st I want you to do yourself a quick favour and click on your profile to see all the threads you have started. The titles alone will tell any well seasoned chef that you have FAR too much to learn still before you even try to get into a supervisory/management role. You need a solid role model that will teach you the important skills it takes to be a good cook. Period. 

 

 

Altho the entire post was dead on this bit of advice is golden.

 

mimi

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

You should get a line cook job in a good restaurant under a well qualified chef and stop worrying about your advancement. 

 

 

This.

 

After looking at job requirements for Sous, I honestly say I had those attributes to be a Sous at a good restaurant under a great chef. I have 6 interviews this week, 2 stages, 2 walk in opportunities and a dentist appointment.  At first, i had my mind on either japanese or french, now the most important factor of the job is the head chef. The who, why, and how aspects of the chef is going to be the deciding factor because from what I've learned...it starts from the top.. 

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Agreed, 

 

 

All but one stage are for line cook positions at some really bad ass places... it's a little frightening and my stomach is turning just thinking about it. New kitchen, new people, new system --- I feel anxious like the day before a vacation...but this will be no vacation. What are your thoughts as to attire to interviews?? Should i dress up a little more than usual or go in with my chef clothes/bag/etc hoping they ask me to stage that very day?

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

damn...I wanna be the best...version of me possible. Hmm this just prompted me to write a what I'm good at and what needs improvement list. 

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

This seems to be general consensus and I 99% agree...no maybe this or what if that happens... Oddly enough, I actually do the dishpit in the morning during prep, but I enjoy the pit the most at night. Really no one else to blame if you fail, except yourself--only person you rely on in the pit ..is you. The more I think about it, the more excited I am. I've been dreading this job search and I've put it off for as long as I could. I didn't even want to post anything on here, I was just gonna leave the account and never post again, but I'm glad I did. 

 

Some things I already knew, some things I knew, but didnt want to admit, and some things I had no f--ing clue and it was a wake-up call or rather a calibration to set me back on the course I should be going on. 

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post
 
The reason why you moved up as fast as you did was because of poor management. The management moved you into positions that didn't help you but, keep the kitchen going. This is what happens when you have owners and GM's that can't manage a kitchen. These people come and go as they want.
                                whoa, im still a little befuddled by that statement bc it definitely rings true and explains a lot about how i got to Exec.

Everything that happens to you in the future s/b because of your skills and knowledge to do the job. When you move up in this business it s/b because your qualified not because the kitchen just needs to fill the position.

Thats how i also obtained my sous...damn. It feels shitty to come to that realization and ill get over it.....but my main concern now is how to explain how i moved to executive chef so quickly? I know it's not right, but I would rather put sous chef on my resume as opposed to excutive. 

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

I worked there from 3/15 - 9/16

 

On my resume, i would have to break down those dates bc i had three different positions right? or do i just place those advancements as part of my job duties/tasks?

post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fablesable View Post
 

 

 

@Cook1st I want you to do yourself a quick favour and click on your profile to see all the threads you have started. 

 

 

I never want to do that again...it was very cringeworthy 

 

I'm going to come back friday and post .... Guess what... I got an Executive Chef position...WHat 3 things should I do first? :D

 

 

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cook1st View Post
 

Thats how i also obtained my sous...damn. It feels shitty to come to that realization and ill get over it.....but my main concern now is how to explain how i moved to executive chef so quickly? I know it's not right, but I would rather put sous chef on my resume as opposed to excutive. 

 

Cook1st, Don't think your the only one in this business it's happen to. The reason why we all love this business is because it gives us instant self-satisifaction, gratification and a great sense of self-esteem. So, when you were getting the promotions from cook, sous to Exec chef. You did what we all would have done. Take all the things that you went through and build on them. Use what you learned as a building block to work and move up under a good chef. When you go for an interview, explain what you went through in moving up through the ranks at a fast pace. Most Chefs will understand what you went through. After you tell the interviewing chef what you went through then tell them your goals and how hand you will work in their operation. You showed many great qualities while working in that operation. You worked long hours, had a eagerness to learn and do a good job. The only problem you ran into was there wasn't anyone to learn from. I put all your misfortunes on the management! there was nothing you did wrong.......The best..........ChefBill

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