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New Executive Chef

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, Im 21 years old and got my first job as an executive chef for a restaurant. Im also kinda the food and beverage manager. I was just wondering if anyone has any tips for me for dealing with menu changes making new dishes ordering and dealing with difficult staff any advice will be appreciated 

post #2 of 23

First we need some more information. What is the size, type, and location of the enterprise? What experience do you have? Twenty one is fairly young to have achieved this level of responsibility so I would say get a rabbits foot for luck.  And good luck.  Answer our questions and we may be able to help.

post #3 of 23

Executive chef @ 21 fu@# me, only now I see what a donkey I must of been.....It took me 10 years from commis to Head chef..../

post #4 of 23

@frankie007 please be nice and supportive.  You never know the circumstances.

post #5 of 23
Quote:
 A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

-- Mark Twain

 

As to menu changes, make sure you have them down consistently and that the staff is able to replicate them consistently before rolling them out.

 

When creating new dishes, the guests and the business bottom line must come before the ego.

 

The only way to deal with difficult staff is fairly, firmly, and consistently. No double standards. Make sure staff clearly knows your standards, expectations, and goals. Make sure the consequences experienced by an individual not meeting your standards, expectations, and goals are well spelled out ahead of time. Follow through. Walk your talk.

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 #6 of 23
Thread Starter 

its casual dining seats about 75 usually quite full i have 20 -30 staff its in northern Canada. i have 3 years of experience in kitchen and have a business degree 

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 

its difficult to punish someone i have a small hiring pool and its next to a reserve so everyone is family i fire someone no one shows up to the next shift 

post #8 of 23

If you lay down the ground rules ahead of time, then it is not punishment. The consequences that are suffered  are entirely self-inflicted by the individual... Or you can waffle and not stick to your guns, in which case you are held hostage; the consequences as a result of that would also be self-inflicted.

 

Quote:
 You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.

-- Albert Camus

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 #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

i working with a very difficult crew and that's one of the reasons im paid 75k a year i already had one quite because i told her she had to label things and to keep raw meat separate from ready to go foods 

post #10 of 23

Okay.

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 #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

if i even try following simple regulations i will lose all my staff in 2 weeks

post #12 of 23

Sounds like you have made your choice.

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 #13 of 23

Here is what you do.  Lead by example and do it one thing at a time.  After a while, it will become second nature.

 

If you label a separate shelves for beef, chicken, and fish, and follow the system, people will have no choice but to do it because that's just where it goes.  People will get to know where to pull those items and where to put them up.  In time that will become the system.

 

Suppose your employee doesn't do it, and leaves, then you keep doing it and hire another employee.  THat employee comes in and thinks you've been doing it that way forever.

 

One thing at a time... 

 

Good luck!

post #14 of 23

This is like being a zoo keeper and letting the animals run loose. You either have control or you don't. In your case you don't. If I were to do this, and there is no way in Hell I would. I would fail safe the operation in every area. I would check the walk-ins and lable as necessary. Work hand and hand with the prep and front line to ensure quality. If you can't beat them, join them. There is no way you could manage the kitchen from the office. You have to be a working Chef, on the floor at all times. You need to be the best friend, great guy to work with, buddy to all. This way when some of your good employees, that are on the edge and weighing if they should call into work sick because of the brown bottle flu. Will lay their head back down on the pillow and say " Screw it, no one else gives a shit why should I"........Your in a no win situation, just try to win as long as you can...........Good luck........after every shift!

 


Edited by ChefBillyB - 6/17/17 at 6:37am
post #15 of 23

It's 75 seats.  He has to be a working chef.

post #16 of 23

"i working with a very difficult crew and that's one of the reasons im paid 75k a year i already had one quite because i told her she had to label things and to keep raw meat separate from ready to go foods" 

 

"if i even try following simple regulations i will lose all my staff in 2 weeks"

 

To which I reply, So what?  Keeping raw meat separate and labeling things are both common sense and Serv Safe practice as well as regulated by the Health Department because doing otherwise increases the likelihood that someone will get sick.

 

I'll anticipate your reply to include a "But….

No.   "But…" begins an excuse. Don't make them.

 

It has been pointed out plainly to you that you deal with difficult staff by firing them or allowing them to quit. The kitchen needs to run a specific way to run well. You didn't invent that, you're just following it and explaining to the staff that they will be expected to follow it too. 

 

When you set standards and stick to them, bad employees will leave. Good employees will hear about your tough reputation and want to work for you. You will note that I did not say you had to yell, or berate or be a complete jerk. You can talk pleasantly and softly and be nice as pie. But you have standards and will not back down. 

Or you have no standards and the inmates run the asylum. 

 Either the kitchen runs the way you want or it doesn't. Either you're in charge, or you're not. If you find you can't or won't demand appropriately professional behavior, you aren't ready to be an Executive Chef. 

post #17 of 23

I am not sure whether this suggestion is gonna help you but my professor had taught me about grading the menus into 4.


1) Star - Items on a menu that has high contribution margin and are also popular.

2) Plowhorse -  Items on a menu that are low on contribution margin but are high on popularity.

3) Puzzle - Items on a menu that has higher contribution margin but low on popularity.

4) Dogs - Items on a menu that are both low in popularity and contribution,

 

Now after grading:

 

Feature the STAR items prominently on the menu.

Test small increase in selling price for PLOWHORSE items on the menu.

Give special status to the PUZZLE items on the menu.

FOR DOGS ITEMS

Try to upsell the items. Lastly remove these items from the menu.

 

 

However these are theoretical things. Hope this helps you :D :)

post #18 of 23

DOG ITEMS can sometimes have hidden benefits that don't show up on financial reports. When I had a restaurant I had a weekly changing menu of about 14-15 items, and 3-4 of hose would be vegetarian (with at least 1 being vegan). The vegetarian items were never my biggest selling items, but I can't tell you how many people told me that they came into the restaurant based on my vegetarian items, even though they themselves were carnivores. They figured the amount of love and creativity that I put into those spoke well to my chefness (not a word, but I don't care).

 

The key to dog items is cross utilization and proper ordering, so that waste is minimized.

 

A perfect example was a dish that I put on the menu knowing full well that if I sold more than 2 for the week, I would be suprised. The dish was

 

Grilled Stuffed Cucumber a whole cucumber stuffed with prouted Mung, Adzuki, Lentil, and Garbanzo Beans; brushed with Chile Oil, grilled and topped with a Sesame Spinach Sauce and sprinkled with Aji Nori Furikake

 

It was comprised of items that I already had on hand, I just needed to make a small amount of the sauce. So no loss or waste to really be concerned about, but man did it really catch people's eye. They were too scared to order it, but it piqued their interest as they were standing outside on the sidewalk and reading the menu.

 

Dog items don't change your overall total sales. You are going to sell "x" amount of dollars anyway. I am not necessarily purporting that one should keep dog items hanging around, but they not necessarily an imminent danger either.

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 #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
 

DOG ITEMS can sometimes have hidden benefits that don't show up on financial reports. When I had a restaurant I had a weekly changing menu of about 14-15 items, and 3-4 of hose would be vegetarian (with at least 1 being vegan). The vegetarian items were never my biggest selling items, but I can't tell you how many people told me that they came into the restaurant based on my vegetarian items, even though they themselves were carnivores. They figured the amount of love and creativity that I put into those spoke well to my chefness (not a word, but I don't care).

 

The key to dog items is cross utilization and proper ordering, so that waste is minimized.

 

 

Yeah, items that seem like "dogs" on the P-mix can have a complicated story.  Your vegan/vegetarian example is a good one.  There may be a party of ten looking to go out for dinner and one is a strict vegetarian; having an option for that diner may be the difference between a $400 check and not filling the seats.  Some items are on the menu because they signal what kind of restaurant you are.  Maybe you have a lobster tail which doesn't sell in great amounts but it means you're the place people go for anniversaries, birthdays, important business dinners, etc.

"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 #20 of 23

We haven't heard back from the OP.

 

In the initial thread, I saw that this person is 21 years old and just got their first Executive Chef job. Plus, in addition to this, also becomes food and beverage manager.

That's a lot of responsibility.

 

I may be assuming here, but if the crew was already there, and sees a young up and coming young person in the roll of management, they may be jealous or threatened.

It might be that this place has never had a organized serve-saf Chef.

 

To quit because the Chef asked you to label and date foods?????  There's something more afoot here. The OP has chosen not to share the whole story here. It's impossible to give adequate advice.

post #21 of 23
Ahhh... the original poster....advice....

I can only say what I would do.

Before taking on a exec chef position, I would work a day or two in the kitchen. Call it a stage, call it what you want, I call it fact finding. Problems with staff should come out within this day or two.

Then comes the negatiation with the owners befire taking on the job. Salary is only a small part of negotiating. Do I have the authority to fire if warranted? If not, what do you expect from me? Am I locked in to only ordering from one supplier? If yes I'm outta there faster than a tow truck driver at 2:58 pm

On my first official day, I would call a staff meeting for ALL kitchen employees. A ttendance is mandtory, gm or owner present for the first 5 minutes, all f&b outlets shut down for 15 mins. This is the one good chance I have of setting down rules. Procedures and protocol explained, short term and long term goals explained. No one singled out.

Next step is to get my back up ready. Guys/gals Ive worked with who are inbetween jobs and can step in for a few days if need be. It is very important to have someone taking an employees place when that employee walks out and expects a phonecall and a apology from the Chef when s/he is found yapping on the phone while the burgers are burning and servers getting p.o.'d. Once it is understood that the chef can back up his/her rules, the odds of those rules being followed are greatly increased.

All if this is hindsight, experience, shoulda/woulda/coulda from decades of life in the kitchen.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #22 of 23
The man who pumps food shared a gem that usually takes a large chunk o'time to add to the arsenal.
The backup crew.
Those who have been holding prior F&B mgrs hostage will quickly learn to not jack with the new guy...no matter how young or inexperienced.

mimi

20-30 on payroll for 75 seats?

m
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by almc00038 View Post

i working with a very difficult crew and that's one of the reasons im paid 75k a year i already had one quite because i told her she had to label things and to keep raw meat separate from ready to go foods 
I find it is frustrating sometimes to shoulder all of your responsibilities asa leader and still expect a crew to work as you do, with so much more to lose. It's exhausting , but worth it if you have a few crew members that respond to pressure you know they will vibe with. Know something about them, make a connection, make them care and want to be proud of what they do-- and make them proud to follow in your example of feeling accomplished by doing a job well- even as simple as the drains. Good way to weed out the slackers. Someone's always going to complain about being called out about not doing something right , and how hard it is or whatever, but the crew member that does the same "extra" task and found pride in doing it well...... that's us, and if you can coax that out of a staff, you got it goin on. Good luck, don't empathize too much, set expectations, be realistic, and above all, respectful. This life isn't for everyone.
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