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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just need to let a small bit of steam off...

Last week in class we were assigned to three-person teams for the rest of the semester and for the final. I caught wind of the fact that one of my teammates is not so on top of the game. I tried to get around this situation by giving this person some of the less difficult tasks, such as basic equipment mise en place. They brought back the wrong stuff and also doubled up on some of the produce mise en place that I was taking care of. Then I noticed this person just standing around so I asked them to take over some saute. This person didn't even know how to handle the spatula! I am concerned that this person's performance is going to affect the group's grade on the final. I am not the chef, just a fellow student, but why am I supposed to handle this situation? I don't want to try and assume control, but the third student seems to be content with the situation. I understand that we are all trying to learn, but I want a good grade! Shouldn't the instructor be monitoring performance or is working within the group dynamic part of the class goal?

Does anyone else have experience with class situations like this? If it were a workplace problem I could think of several different ways to handle this.

terrarich
 

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T,
I think you'll find that this is a good example of the real world. I understand you wanting to get a good grade, but in the long run practical experience is more valuable. Many great leaders were thrust into the position and they grew into it. There are many people in school and in the field who really have no business being there. Just think of it as a plant by the teacher as a lesson.
Even the dumbest of people deserve some help, but sometimes you just have to work around them.
I'm sure the instructor is taking notice of this persons inabilities. Yes it may well bring down your overall grade, but many times in your evaluation it is noted as such. I had a quote in one of mine that I worked remarkably well with "even the most difficult of people" you could bring this up with the instructor towards the end, just what you said here. Just make sure that you don't get pulled down with him/her. If you have to, assume control. It is an admirable quality and one that will help you in the long run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
C,

Thanks for the input. I have no problems assuming control. In fact I want to, but I first need to clear things up with chef. I don't want to step on any toes and I don't want to rob anyone of experience. However, if all that person can handle is the sachet then that is what I will give them to do. Maybe they could dig out the kidneys form the chicken backs too...

BTW, what the heck is the icon you're using? It looks like a new version of Eddie, the Iron Maiden mascot.

Thanks again,

terrarich
 

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Terrarich,

Been there buddy! A few months ago, I had a thread called diary of a baby chef; this was one of my top complaints about culinary school. Now that I've graduated, I can look back at this with more objectivity. Ok, that's a lie!

The truth is, it still infuriates me. Yes, grades are perhaps meaningless in this field, but they are YOUR grades, and if you choose to strive for As' then by G-d, you should have every fair chance at getting them.

I've run into some pretty extreme conflicts with my team mates because I had to pick up some major slack from them. When I earned them A+'s without them lifting a finger, they had the nerve to complain about me and call me the control freak. Thankfully, the teacher was no idiot. I didn't have to say a word to him, he new exactly what was going on.

I was supposed to do 2 more projects with this group. For the final (and more important) one, I asked to be dissociated from the group and was allowed to work on my own. The reality is that in the "real world", I will never be competing for the same jobs as these people. We will never work in the same kitchens, as they would be fired from any of the kitchens I have ever worked in. So the "real world" analogy, really only goes so far.

My advice to you is to speak to your teacher. Explain to him/her that you are trying to maximise your learning experience without having to resort to babysitting. You aren't trying to step on anyone's toes but your aim is to excel. If it's an A you want, ask him how to get there given your current constraints. He (she)'ll get the picture .

Good luck!
 

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I hear what you are saying Anneke and terrarich, but let me give this bit of advice also: As you spend time working with this indivdual, helping to train them, you also help yourself out. It gives you a good opportunity to reinforce these basic skills upon yourself also. Yes, you may understand the concepts and skills, but having to go over them step by step, slowly will allow to look at your own skills and hone them even further. I always find something that I need to work one as I am training a new cook. Learning, relearning, and practicing your skills never ends, be thankful for the time you have to spend on training, because, I guarnetee that you too, will learn something.
 

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I agree Pete. Except that during a lab you have time constraints. And on top of that, not everybody is open to learning from their peers. Lots of kids don't care much to learn from their teachers, and even less from their fellow students.

I don't mean to generalize. I have met some students who were very open to it, and I can honestly say that I have learned a lot from them as I hope they have perhaps learned a bit from me. But we're not always so lucky as to be paired up with such students...
 

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Teaming people in culinary school is definitely the norm. Make no mistake, if you excel, your chef will know it.

This happened at Kump all the time. When one teacher teamed us then gave us our assignments, a fellow student glared at me and said, "We got all of this stuff because you're here. Consider it a compliment that your chef teamed you with a less-than-enthusiastic fellow student.

A team horror story...we were making a beautiful blanquette de veau. The final touch was a sprinkling of minced fresh Italian parsley. All Thumbs Cook sprinkled minced cilantro intended for another dish all over the white stew. Glaring student (referenced above) scraped the cilantro from the top of the stew and replaced it with the intended parsley. Glaring student and I remain friends till this day - and we refer to that particular class as "the cilantro incident." Moral of the story: Watch less-than-enthusiastic student or you may end up with cilantro in your blanquette de veau.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Guess what...

The student that I was concerned about stopped showing up to class after I first posted on this thread. My remaiing teammate and I worked well together for the rest of the semester. Well, we had our final yesterday which inlcuded a practical component that had the teams making a white stock. The class started at seven. While everyone else had three people to gather equipment and food for the mise en place I was scurrying about by myself, trying to keep pace. Fifteen minutes passed before I asked chef if he had heard anything about my partner, to which he replied that my partner was not coming in and was probably going to fail the class. I guess that the holiday weekend took priority for this person. Chef asked me if I would be ok and I said , "Of course". He said that he would take into consideration the fact that I was operating solo. I asked him not to since I could handle it alone. I ended up with the second best stock. :chef:


Although I am not yet a kitchen professional I have had enough experience in my current profession to understand that crises to occur, but that the job still needs to get done. Many of the younger students in class were worried and offered me help, but I just explained to them that the proper mise en place would get me through the situation. I guess chef and his assistants were impressed and confident with my performance since they saw that I had enough control over my situation during the exam to help them with the staff meal they were providing on the last day of class.

Now I am thoroughly convinced that even though I have not had a lot of kitchen experience that I can make the career switch with confidence. If only I could get over the low income at the start...

Thank you all for your input and advice,

terrarich
 

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Congratulations! Both on your good performance and on the "real world" lesson you learned. That's what happens, far too often: a fellow cook (or 2 or 3) goes AWOL, and it's up to someone to pick up the slack. If you jump in and can deal with it, it's that much better for you, your supervisor, and ultimately the customers. Keep up the good work, and the good attitude!:D
 

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Your example is a shining prediction of what awaits you. Hubby is working in a Swiss Bakery in Durango (open b'fast/lunch, killer quiche and anything with puff pastry). There are 3 line cooks who work varying shifts/days. The one in charge of scheduling makes sure he alots himself full weekends off while the other guys get scattered days off, never two together. The owner thinks this guy is a real go-getter but as soon as the owner doffs his beret and leaves for the day, Matt becomes part of a chair and orders everyone around. It's just politics - and perhaps it was a bit of a "bonus lesson" for you to have to contend with this in school.
 
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