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most of us have been there: the flying cast iron, the burning tongs, the non stop yelling all shift. but what about now?

I'm finding myself trying to be a chef that is sensitive to the changing times but i honestly hate it. it seems mutual respect is out the window, i can work 20hr days and nobody cares. i feel like i've fallen into a trap and i'm just now realizing i've been bamboozled. i have sous, managers, and cooks complaining that they worked 9hrs and they're exhausted...i literally don't even know what that means. as a cook, i never worked just an 8hr shift. i got there at 1 or 2 and stayed until the job was done, and sometimes that meant cleaning till 2am with your shift drink(s). I get that that's no life and ppl deserve better. i guess i'm just having difficulty understanding how people got to thinking that cooking was a simple job? and still want $24/hr plus tips. i understand cost of living is insane but isn't that a "write to your senator" kind of situation? does anyone has similar experiences? how do you deal with these new circumstances? i guess i'm just tired and i'm hoping to gain some wisdom. i love cooking and restaurants but i feel as tho no one else does, and its defeating.
 

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The odds of creating and developing a kitchen crew that feels as you do is pretty slim.
9 hours is nothing to a kitchen person. You're right, people do not understand kitchen life.
That being said, it's 2022 and the general consensus these days is a 40-hour week, but that has not extended to the restaurant business. Franchises yes, standalone no.
The work still needs to get done, but all the crew wants is a paycheck with lots of praise for mediocre work.
What to do, what to do?
 

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My take is that covid has finally exposed the hospitality industry for what it really is : unsustainable. It always was unsustainable, but neither the businesses or the customers wanted to acknowledge this.

One of the reasons it is unsustainable is because it relies on cheap, transient, unskilled/semiskilled labour, and the industry has no intention of addressing this with qualifications or recognized benchmarks, or even ensuring staff make enough to cover basic living expenses: The cook moves on to another job, the server saves up enough for another semester of school; the manager leaves, burnt out, personal relationships in dire straights...

Yesterday I interviewed at a private boys school for a Chef position, I would be solely responsible for feeding 110, work 4 10 hr shifts and paid cdn$20.00/ hr. No tips but “ you get 3 days off so you can work the a’la carte places for extra cash”. The kitchen was managed by a large company that specializes with institutional kitchens. The interviewer knew he was offering crap wages, knew he was wasting both of our time, but had to do what his bosses wanted.

Like you, I’ve worked in kitchens for close to 40 years—20 of them my own businesses. I am able to brag that I’m still on my first marriage and just a few years away from paying off the mortgage on our home. I recognized the industry as unsustainable the day a customer walked into my shop ( that I opened just 6 weeks prior) and declared:” the reason I tell parents not buy here is that you don’t support our school’s sports program, so are you going to sponsor our gr. 7 girl’s volleyball team or not?”

Covid was just the big brother who ripped off your bandaid when you weren’t looking, it had nothing to do with previous issues, they were always there.....
 

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My take is that covid has finally exposed the hospitality industry for what it really is : unsustainable. It always was unsustainable, but neither the businesses or the customers wanted to acknowledge this.

One of the reasons it is unsustainable is because it relies on cheap, transient, unskilled/semiskilled labour, and the industry has no intention of addressing this with qualifications or recognized benchmarks, or even ensuring staff make enough to cover basic living expenses: The cook moves on to another job, the server saves up enough for another semester of school; the manager leaves, burnt out, personal relationships in dire straights...

Yesterday I interviewed at a private boys school for a Chef position, I would be solely responsible for feeding 110, work 4 10 hr shifts and paid cdn$20.00/ hr. No tips but “ you get 3 days off so you can work the a’la carte places for extra cash”. The kitchen was managed by a large company that specializes with institutional kitchens. The interviewer knew he was offering crap wages, knew he was wasting both of our time, but had to do what his bosses wanted.

Like you, I’ve worked in kitchens for close to 40 years—20 of them my own businesses. I am able to brag that I’m still on my first marriage and just a few years away from paying off the mortgage on our home. I recognized the industry as unsustainable the day a customer walked into my shop ( that I opened just 6 weeks prior) and declared:” the reason I tell parents not buy here is that you don’t support our school’s sports program, so are you going to sponsor our gr. 7 girl’s volleyball team or not?”

Covid was just the big brother who ripped off your bandaid when you weren’t looking, it had nothing to do with previous issues, they were always there.....
You’ve been at chef talk awhile too. Chapeau..
 

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Currently every place has "help wanted" signs up. And the death knell of foodservice was that white cup with the green mermaid.
There's always going to be a limited pool of people willing/able to work foodservice.
And Starbucks uses too many. Wears them out and makes them swear off the industry.

Look, it's always been rough. Not the sort of work for a lot of people. The lack of drug/alcohol testing has driven all other industry rejects into ours.

Currently the great resignation but steady demand has pushed the remaining places open to their limits...and many beyond that.
However there is hope. With a return of the "Carter years" when jobs got so scarce that there was a line out the door for a dishwasher position...and we didn't post ads anymore for a position because the vast majority were totally unqualified to do even that....chairs in the kitchen?

I see us returning to that era soon. Boom and bust is the cycle. We've had boom...time for bust.

I remember when waitstaff paid $5 shift to get to work. We didn't pay them and there was a line of people praying they didn't have the $5. But tips weren't taxed then like they are now. The Maitre D of Tavern and Windows each stroked a check for 100K for their jobs...
People were a LOT more professional then.

Wanting more?....we always want more. Kinda comes with the territory of being human. Ever since Adam and Eve we have wanted more and to somehow return to the good ol days.

Maybe someone will figure out how to get enough one day....but it ain't going to be today.
 

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WOW foodpump ... $20/hr cdn. ... That’s just a little better than $15/hr usd for me. ... I don’t see a man of your respected value taking that type of pay.

alfrede ... as far as what you’re asking/saying ... every time I needed a good worker that was never late, worked until the job was done and never complained about anything ... I’d hire a Mexican with kids. The most honorable hard-working type of person I’ve ever worked with.
 

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As I have written countless times, the food service industry has no standards, or qualifications. If cooks had to be licensed, the industry would have to change. There'd be no 12-hour shifts because every shift would be manned (or womaned) by a professional qualified person, so the shifts would be smooth and seemless.
 

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As I have written countless times, the food service industry has no standards, or qualifications. If cooks had to be licensed, the industry would have to change. There'd be no 12-hour shifts because every shift would be manned (or womaned) by a professional qualified person, so the shifts would be smooth and seemless.
Well it would cut staffing and the number of establishments drastically. Vending machines would make the food.

Actually we need to create lines for these jobs by stopping the gratuity taxes. Tips used to not be taxed. $800/wk tax free (or more) would be a healthy salary today. Then the establishment could actually afford to pay cooks a living wage. Those who don't will sink pretty quick.

High tide raises all ships. The quality of workers would also increase because the supply of available people will increase. Those who can barely wrap a burger successfully get left in Fast Food jobs....not front end manager of the local fern bar.

The reverse is what happened in the 80's when waitstaff began paying taxes on tips. Wages and benefits dropped across the board.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
WOW foodpump ... $20/hr cdn. ... That’s just a little better than $15/hr usd for me. ... I don’t see a man of your respected value taking that type of pay.

alfrede ... as far as what you’re asking/saying ... every time I needed a good worker that was never late, worked until the job was done and never complained about anything ... I’d hire a Mexican with kids. The most honorable hard-working type of person I’ve ever worked with.
LOL as a mexican myself i 100% agree with this statement.
 
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