PDA

View Full Version : Advise needed for a young chef.



brianlsx
01-01-2014, 01:38 PM
Hi all, am here to seek some advise from some of you veterans so here it goes.

I am 24 this year and am working for 5 years in the kitchen now. At my current place, I am the unspoken No.2, my post is just a CDP, however due to high staff turnover my place never got a proper Sous Chef, the previous ones that came were either too lazy or incompetent. No staff in the kitchen now from the opening team are left except for myself and my head chef. We're currently a 10-staff strong kitchen. He places a lot of trust in me and tries from time to time to nurture me into officially becoming his Sous Chef. He has empowered and told me to discipline, guide and teach the rest of the team.

Basically I do everything from ordering to food costing/food cost control, organizing functions, attending budget meetings etc. All these have taken time out from my working hours instead of standing in the kitchen prepping away but I'm overwhelmed with the paperwork involved. I feel that instead of doing paperwork I could spend more time with the team with Mise-en-place and be on the line and most importantly be more hands on. I feel that I could hone my skills further and thus am feeling dejected. The times that I'm involved in service is only while I am at the pass and it make me feel left out as I'm not actually doing much cooking anymore.

I try my best to turn up for work 2 hours earlier to see if I could help bang out some prep for the team, but slowly, now I'm getting physically and mentally tired working here. Working 70hrs (rostered) shifts and my pay is not far off from my fellow colleagues. Why do I say i get mentally tired working? It's a bittersweet thing working with my head chef. I've got to say that he is a awesome chef, his creativity, flair, capability, speed of working amazes me. But in the recent few months he has slackened and he's starting to lose his flair. Half the time he's not here, he would take off early or come in late.

There are times that he would spur me on and say I'm doing a hell out of a great job, but then again there are times that he would put me down and make me feel that I'm worthless. He could one moment be all nice and cool and when something happens between he and his missus he would just go bonkers and yell randomly at anyone. I understand that at any other place there is surely a chef that is like that and that's why I'm willing to accept it.

Being the unspoken No.2, Every single time a mistake is committed by a fellow colleague, I would directly/indirectly have to go under fire. So now I feel obligated to shield my team I have bitten the bullet many times for my colleagues for the mistakes they have committed. My head chef is a 110% ******* at times so I'd rather take on the ranting on behalf of them. He will tell me every now and then and says that I am too soft on the team and why am I not taking control. My personal feel that there is already one ******* in the kitchen, and I feel in such a small kitchen, there is no need for 2 ******** to be around. It's not as if I do not reprimand people when they commit mistakes, I do but it's just that he feels that is its not adequate. I do it in my sarcastic talks and try to liven up the atmosphere at work. Over a period of 15months we had 16 staff in the kitchen come and go due to my head chef or themselves.

Truth be told, the thought of resignation has come across my mind many times, but I chose to stay as I was part of the opening team and feel very bonded and obliged to try to hold this place together.

What I really want to do is still to prep, cook etc. at this point of my career, yes sure it is a good opportunity to learn how to manage a kitchen but is it the right time for me yet? Is what I'm doing now a career-limiting move? Also I feel that I am getting too comfortable here as I call the shots for everything when my head chef is not around, somehow I feel it makes me big-headed and I do not want that. So I am here to seek advise from you guys here. Should I stay or should I move on and find another place?

Thank you for reading this rant/post.

jbl
01-01-2014, 02:21 PM
Move on. You're at the age where you should be learning about food, philosophies and the repetition of prep and service that makes you a master of your trade. You should be staying 1-2 years max in each job and moving around in order to work with the best in our profession. This guy is taking advantage of you. A real mentor would make sure you were getting the best of a situation, not lumbering you with the B.S. That B.S. only worth it when you own the place or have the wage and respect due a head chef. Get out of there and don't look back!

jbl
01-01-2014, 02:27 PM
I'm 30 and still moving around, working at great places regardless of the money. Until I have kids I'll continue like this in order to become the best I can be. You're making life easy for this guy to the detriment of your development. I'll say it again, hand your notice in and get the hell out. If the kitchen or this guy were worth being around you wouldn't have such a high staff turnover.

crunchy
01-01-2014, 02:31 PM
you are still young! you should be learning as much as you can, not picking up the slack of your chef. to be an "unspoken" #2 for being there as long as you have and without a worth adversary is a slap in the face. the duties and responsibilities you said you do on a daily basis are clearly worthy of the title "Sous".

have you ever talked to your chef about any of this? i remember having this problem early in my career. i was always scarred to pull my chef aside and talk to him about certain issues. more than likely he has been in your shoes. you need to voice your thoughts on this to him personally.

i always justified leaving a job if i was growing as a cook. if i wasn't learning or given the responsibilities to get better i said something. it usually resulted in me being called "cocky" and them dumping more work and hours on me and my chef treated me like a dog. but after time i would overcome it and after taking everything they could throw at me, i would earn respect. respect goes a long way in the kitchen. if you have it, and you are worthy for a sous position, you take it. its not given.

panda
01-01-2014, 04:36 PM
You're working as the sous. Ask for the proper title and wages otherwise walk out.

sachem allison
01-01-2014, 06:37 PM
welcome to the restaurant business.

marc4pt0
01-01-2014, 06:53 PM
I think you're lucky in the sense that you have the opportunity to see what kitchen management is and what it calls for. With this experience and knowledge, you will no doubt look at every dirty corner and every scrap of food much differently. As in that scrap of food cost money, and that corner ain't going to effin clean itself. I think it's important for young cooks to understand this, yet unfortunately all it seems they "understand" is how wasted they got last night, how much more they think they're worth and of course they're all "beasts" in the kitchen.

For a chef, finding a cook with this kind of appreciation and drive is like finding a pot of gold. It's a rarity these days, sadly. This industry is rapidly being inflated by talentless egos, mired by hacks and shoemakers.
I was quite lucky at my last job as I had gained a sous and a line cook who both understood the importance of what it takes to be Good in this business. I would have done just about anything to make sure they stayed, learned and enjoyed their tenure with me. I say this as it would appear your chef may be on the fence in the way he treats you. I don't believe a chef needs to constantly hug and praise his staff, there's no time for that crap and creates a bad environment full of soft lilies who'll throw hissy fits every chance they get. Tough love is the only way, but it has to exist in the first place.
Personally,I think it's time you left to continue honing your craft. Your time spent in your current kitchen has afforded you a great experience that most cooks don't get this early in the game. Take this education and pack it away for now and get back to the mise en place and learning.

Geo87
01-01-2014, 07:17 PM
Time too move on for sure. But I think you already know that! Don't feel obligated to stay you've done more than enough for them by the sounds of it. Getting taken advantage of and doing tasks above your pay grade is definitely a theme in this industry! Just about every job I've had...
And all head chefs I've had except for two are exactly like yours :)

brianlsx
01-02-2014, 03:07 PM
I'm 30 and still moving around, working at great places regardless of the money. Until I have kids I'll continue like this in order to become the best I can be. You're making life easy for this guy to the detriment of your development. I'll say it again, hand your notice in and get the hell out. If the kitchen or this guy were worth being around you wouldn't have such a high staff turnover.


Move on. You're at the age where you should be learning about food, philosophies and the repetition of prep and service that makes you a master of your trade. You should be staying 1-2 years max in each job and moving around in order to work with the best in our profession. This guy is taking advantage of you. A real mentor would make sure you were getting the best of a situation, not lumbering you with the B.S. That B.S. only worth it when you own the place or have the wage and respect due a head chef. Get out of there and don't look back!

I firmly believe in almost every job there would be a certain degree of BS to take, at the end of the day I guess it's a happiness to pay ratio and learning to pay ratio. Imo, tolerance for abuse and bs would somehoe mould me into a better, stronger person. Given if I were my old self 5 years back, I would have probably gotten physical and walloped my head chef. At the end of the day anger does not get me anywhere.

I am actually looking for job openings in my country, but at this point of time I would probably have to wait till March as majority of the restaurant/hotels give out bonus around that period of time and hardly anyone would leave their jobs. Those that are available I feel that it might not be adequate for me to continue growing or I have to take a serious pay drop and start from the beginning again which I wouldn't mind but I would like to save up before making a move. I would also to travel out of my country to work around the world esp Europe or the states, but the airfare/lodging are holding me back as I have monthly bills/contributions to give to my family. Thank you for your advise and I would leave in due time, I hope.

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

brianlsx
01-02-2014, 03:13 PM
you are still young! you should be learning as much as you can, not picking up the slack of your chef. to be an "unspoken" #2 for being there as long as you have and without a worth adversary is a slap in the face. the duties and responsibilities you said you do on a daily basis are clearly worthy of the title "Sous".

have you ever talked to your chef about any of this? i remember having this problem early in my career. i was always scarred to pull my chef aside and talk to him about certain issues. more than likely he has been in your shoes. you need to voice your thoughts on this to him personally.

i always justified leaving a job if i was growing as a cook. if i wasn't learning or given the responsibilities to get better i said something. it usually resulted in me being called "cocky" and them dumping more work and hours on me and my chef treated me like a dog. but after time i would overcome it and after taking everything they could throw at me, i would earn respect. respect goes a long way in the kitchen. if you have it, and you are worthy for a sous position, you take it. its not given.

I've had quite a few talks with my head chef about the anger, disappointment, pressure I'm facing. He wants to give me the post but according to him, he says that the owners felt that I was too young and inexperienced to take up a post of a sous chef. To which, I agree to a certain extent as there a tons of people out there who slogs for years but still do not get the post that they deserve. Probably I can consider myself lucky as he gave me a minor pay raise when I was 6 months into the job. All of my colleagues regards me as the no. 2 and always look up to me for advise. Somehow as of now I still do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am really considering relocating to another restaurant but there are not many that interests me at this point of time.

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

bahamaroot
01-02-2014, 03:15 PM
Quit and find a new career before it's too late.

brianlsx
01-02-2014, 03:16 PM
You're working as the sous. Ask for the proper title and wages otherwise walk out.

I'm not really interested in titles at the end of the day, what matters most is the pay. I would love to walk out but it's against my principle to just walk out and leave like that. I've also made an unwritten agreement with my head chef that if I were to leave I would give him 2 months notice instead of 1

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

brianlsx
01-02-2014, 03:16 PM
welcome to the restaurant business.

Hahah thanks for the warm welcome! Am embracing every moment of it!

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

brianlsx
01-02-2014, 03:28 PM
I think you're lucky in the sense that you have the opportunity to see what kitchen management is and what it calls for. With this experience and knowledge, you will no doubt look at every dirty corner and every scrap of food much differently. As in that scrap of food cost money, and that corner ain't going to effin clean itself. I think it's important for young cooks to understand this, yet unfortunately all it seems they "understand" is how wasted they got last night, how much more they think they're worth and of course they're all "beasts" in the kitchen.

For a chef, finding a cook with this kind of appreciation and drive is like finding a pot of gold. It's a rarity these days, sadly. This industry is rapidly being inflated by talentless egos, mired by hacks and shoemakers.
I was quite lucky at my last job as I had gained a sous and a line cook who both understood the importance of what it takes to be Good in this business. I would have done just about anything to make sure they stayed, learned and enjoyed their tenure with me. I say this as it would appear your chef may be on the fence in the way he treats you. I don't believe a chef needs to constantly hug and praise his staff, there's no time for that crap and creates a bad environment full of soft lilies who'll throw hissy fits every chance they get. Tough love is the only way, but it has to exist in the first place.
Personally,I think it's time you left to continue honing your craft. Your time spent in your current kitchen has afforded you a great experience that most cooks don't get this early in the game. Take this education and pack it away for now and get back to the mise en place and learning.

My mentor, who has now retired taught me all the basics from cost cutting to saving every bit of scrap for something, probably that's one of the reasons that I'm pretty comfortable when my current head chef squeezes every single thing out of every ingredient. Also my current head chef makes sure and strongly enforces the cleanliness of the kitchen almost every minute that he is there which is also what I firmly believe. I know very well I'm not a "beast" to say in the kitchen but I work at a pretty decent speed.i know where I am lacking for knife skills, meat fabrication, and most importantly filleting a fish which I hardly get any chance here to do it as my head chef is always the one that fillets the fish and we only use yellow fin tuna and hiramasa kingfish. I tried to talk to him to let.kr try but he was afraid that I would ruin the product.

I would love to move on the continue honing my draft but am just awaiting for the right opportunity. Thank you for the advise given!


Time too move on for sure. But I think you already know that! Don't feel obligated to stay you've done more than enough for them by the sounds of it. Getting taken advantage of and doing tasks above your pay grade is definitely a theme in this industry! Just about every job I've had...
And all head chefs I've had except for two are exactly like yours :)

I seriously don't really mind getting underpaid as long as I'm learning that is why till this date I'm still at my current place. I belive every place you work at, there will be people taking advantage of you just that till what extent they do it. So now it's only awaiting for a right opportunity and off I will leave this place unless miraculously there a massive changes. Anws thank you all for taking the time out to chime in!

Cheers kkf!

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk

toddnmd
01-02-2014, 03:39 PM
I'm not in the restaurant business, but maybe they are taking advantage of you.

Your age should not be a factor in whether you are given the title and pay of "sous chef." Experience might, but if you are basically doing the job, you are showing yourself as capable of doing it. Perhaps time to talk to the owners directly?

I wouldn't advocate walking out at any rate. But you could always explain your position and ask for what you want and think you deserve. Whether or not the answer determines whether you stay or go is up to you. It's a stronger play if you are prepared to leave if you don't get what you want.

Two months seems like an incredibly long time for notice, but I'd honor the agreement if that's what you made. Since started there pretty young, and have a lot of years in, I'd suggest leaving on the best possible terms to keep the good reference and your options open.

Good luck.

rdm_magic
01-03-2014, 03:08 PM
Whenever I get the idea that I might want to leave a place, it's only a matter of time. Even when they realise I'm leaving, and offer me the thing I wanted, I end up leaving because I've given myself all the other reasons I want to move.

Crothcipt
01-04-2014, 03:05 AM
You are being taken advantage of. You know as they do you are not of age that they are comfortable with, but you are doing the job. Also you have been doing the job for less pay than someone at that lvl would get. If you don't take the title when you move on you will not be able to use that title for the future (resume). Don't count yourself short in the work you have learned, continue to keep learning the post even ask what else you can be doing. You can always go to other jobs and still learn the way you are wanting, take this a time to learn this part of the job.

But also remember if you can't stomach the place any more then it's time to move on.

franzb69
01-04-2014, 10:09 AM
I would ask for that promotion or move on.

Chef Andy
01-05-2014, 03:17 PM
I was in a similar situation recently. I ended up getting the promotion after essentially doing the job for 6 months.

jamaster14
02-25-2014, 05:35 PM
You're working as the sous. Ask for the proper title and wages otherwise walk out.

this,... sounds like you're being taken advantage of... you should be learning not doing grunt work. you are in the kind of position where you wake up and next thing you know you've been doing the same guys prep work for 10 years

ncedge
02-27-2014, 11:38 PM
You're working as the sous. Ask for the proper title and wages otherwise walk out.

:plus1:

jamaster14
03-06-2014, 03:49 PM
I'm not really interested in titles at the end of the day, what matters most is the pay. I would love to walk out but it's against my principle to just walk out and leave like that. I've also made an unwritten agreement with my head chef that if I were to leave I would give him 2 months notice instead of 1

Sent from my SM-N9005 using Tapatalk


thast gotta be a 2 way street. you are giving loyalty and respect to your job but its not giving you that same loyalty and respect.

its not giving up to leave a bad situation for a better one

banjo1071
03-07-2014, 08:47 AM
Hi
I am not from your biz, but know similar situations. I take it you like the place, but feel exploited. I would recommend:
1. Ask for a testimonial (if thats the right word, english is omly my third language). Have one prepared with all the duties and extrajobs listed you did in the past. So no one can say, theres no time. They just have to sign it, takes just a second.
2. If they havent understood yet, use this to apply for another job.
3. Take the other joboffer to your boss and ask him, if he is willing to rival that offer.
4. if they dont, quit and never look back...

Be assured that no one ever, ever, ever (did i say ever?) will thank you for the extra BST you are giving, just for them having a better time...
Maybe one last little trick. If the boss gives you another task on top on your already exausting duties, just say:
"Of yourse, no problem. Please tell me, which of my current task i should not do instead"...So your offering a constructive and positiv Input, but dont get exploited even more...

Greetings Benjamin

cheflarge
03-10-2014, 04:33 PM
I'm fifty six years old and can tell you walking out is NEVER the answer. It will alway's come back to haunt you. Unfortunately there is really no definative answer. I believe that anyone that has the passion to be a chef, will experience these feelings &/or issues during their professional career at least once and more than likely many times, it's just human nature. As Chef Son said: "welcome to the restaurant business." It is what it is. If they are asking you to do more, than ask them: "what do I get for doing this additional task?"

We could go on about this for a very long time. For me, the bottom line is, if you are not happy with an added task &/or job duties, you must confront your supervisor, chef, owner, whatever, as soon as possible. DO NOT let you dissapointment fester to long or you will be in the situation you are in right now.

And yes, you are correct: doesn't matter where you go there will alway's be some type of issue or problem.

Umberto
05-31-2014, 03:00 PM
The head chef is under a lot of stress and obviously you are doing a damn good job picking up the slack of others. If the head chef is telling you to be more aggressive with the team that is an honor. Don't be the nice guy...when you see something executed substandard, let them know...You don't have to be a jerk but you don't have to be nice.

Let them know "I am not gonna bust my ass every morning for you guys to come and screw around!"

Gravy Power
06-01-2014, 02:04 AM
At your age you should never be in one place for five years. I understand the loyalty you feel, but you will be completely renewed by putting in your two weeks. Go staige at great restaurants, get a job and learn new cuisine and techniques.

jai
06-02-2014, 02:18 AM
go get out of there and experience something new re ignite your passion. if you don't keep it fresh and new you get stale and nobody likes stale bread.

Boondocker
06-02-2014, 11:39 AM
go work in the best place you can, dont be concerned with pay or working too much. learn everything you can