The New Bakers Dozen
Looking for advice on how you use your assistants, again please?

The The Bakers Dozen: Looking for advice on how you use your assistants, again please?
By Debord (Debord) on Saturday, June 02, 2001 - 11:30 pm: Edit

I've made it thru my first week with my new assistant. I over explain things to get her familar with all the possibilties that can easily happen at my work. Now I'm starting to keep my mouth shut and see how she works with-out coaching.

This is so much different than catering. With temp. help I could man all the ovens and didn't have to teach, just show by example. Now as a pastry chef it feels more like teaching then showing. It's really hard to figure out where to guide and when to leave her on her own. Left on her own she starts to slow way down and looks like a beginner. Yet when I talk her though each step she's like "yes, I know" and talks a good talk on info. She has shown a ability to plate well so I'm kind of confused by her skills.

How would you approach this, let her be and hope she catches on? Keep watching her and when she goes off track catch her? Or let her fail and go back and explain why I'm teaching?

P.S. I have a strange fear of leaving her alone with my recipe file and books, since she's expressed interest in some of my recipes? Or is that silly?

By Seashell on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 04:13 am: Edit

It sounds like she is nervous and unsure of herself, wants to impress you, and that is perhaps why she slows down like that, to make sure everything is just right.

Maybe you should just sit down and have a chat with her and explain that you have confidence in her abilities and are impressed with what she has presented so far, but she needs to work a little faster. I'm sure as she gains experience and confidence she'll be cranking things out in no time.

Remember, one ALWAYS catches more flies with honey than with vinager.

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 08:18 am: Edit

I agree with seashell, although you must instill that you have your own style of doing things. The approach should be," I prefer to have this done this way". You should not be hearing " yes I know" at this stage of the game.
Supervising is supervising, I would give her a copy of your whole book, it's just your formulas right? or do you have method and proceedure? If so , cut off M & P. I'm not sure about the chat that your confident in her abilities. You do need to chat and explain just what you have posted, and what you expect from her. You should not be talking on an even plane with her untill you are comfortable with her performance. Don't do anything to undermind your authority right now.
W. This is just my opinion, I realize you a truly qualified to run your kitchen.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 12:01 pm: Edit

I agree with both the above posts. Now that you are a little more familiar with each other, have a discussion,and both of you take good notes. Try to sketch out a learning plan with her: starting with what you both agree are her strong points, those that will need little adjustments, and working to the areas of unfamiliarity. At least this way, she can be productive while learning the points she doesn't know. In my estimation, paring down the learning curve is key. I agree with Panini, that unless she has any depth of repetoire and method, that your formulas are safe. Its hard enough to teach people with all of your attention and have food turn out, let alone left by themselves!
Oh, one last thing: have a clearly defined job description, and and plenty of patience!
And another thing: I tell the people I hire that the reason they are here is that I CAN'T DO IT WITHOUT THEM! AND IF I DIDN'T REALLY REALLY REALLY NEED THEM, THEY WOULD'T BE HERE!

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 01:51 pm: Edit

OH GREAT POINT!!! DETAILED JOB DESCRIPTION!!!Written up and bounded. If yours is not detailed start now and review it with her every month. At least you'll have it for the next person. oh, that does't mean you'll turn her but you never know.

By Debord (Debord) on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 03:54 pm: Edit

Thanks, you all have made some good points and it's suprising but I think you nailed it seashell. Now that I think about it there have been a few times where I think she covered her supprise of what I was doing. Looking thru a few photos she was impressed with a silly cake wraped in chocolate when I had far more advanced stuff in other photos....I don't think she got the other ones. Then one time I was just going along and she's stops and says "this is a good cookie" and I guess I just kind of passed a "thanks" and she's like "no, I mean this is the best cookie I've ever eaten can I have another one?" huh, I missed that. Yes your clearly right, she seems to be trying to impress me with her knowledge and must be scared her work won't be perfect enough. So then I must give her more room to relax.

O.k. a job description makes sense, I've always wished someone would clearly define my job and others. But I've never seen anyplace do that...I guess I didn't think people did? I had written down a list and covered them but I didn't hand them to her. Will that come back to hurt me when I need her to do something beyond that? Like can't she cover laziness by saying she didn't think that part of her job?

I sure don't have a core formula book (it's in my head where each recipe is located), I'm always making new items. She told me she was shocked to see I still use measuring cups....then I explained that I work recipes anyway their written. No, I have a large file that contains my recipes. Like a housewife would but on a much larger pulled out of magazines etc...that include method, formulas, photos...every bit of info.. Their loose and could easily disapear. Then I have stacks of books where I make detailed notes next to what the recipes I use. I don't mind sharing recipes but I don't want to be ripped off either........

By panini on Sunday, June 03, 2001 - 06:57 pm: Edit

You need to have a formal job description. I will e-mail you some. Ther is a standard with 5-7 standard coverages. Get disciplined and fix your formulas. This is something you can job out to a student for a summer job. Do them in a program that can be edited and imported into a nutritional program.

By W.DeBord on Monday, June 04, 2001 - 09:09 am: Edit

Yes, I keep thinking about it and asking about recipe file management systems...I just haven't taken the time to really learn about my options and get it done.

I suppose I'm just starting to reach the point where I'm happy with several recipes that I can stop searching for better ones and see them as my formulas. But I'm still young enough in my career as a pastry chef (only 3 1/2 years)that I'm continuely trying new recipes. I'd like a program that I could scan in the photo with the recipe for future reference.

I always kind of thought I was being tricky not having everything located in one book that someone could rip off?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, June 04, 2001 - 09:55 am: Edit add to all previous posts; one week is really not enough time for anyone to get comfortable and familiarized with a work location.
Think about your own experiences..................
Like someone else said, let her know you want things done in a certain manner, there is more then one way to do things right in this industry.
A job description is good if you keep it handy and expand every time the job requires, sometimes they are ambigous. I just ran into one from Hilton which is excellent. If you have a fax I can fax it to you.
Good Luck

By W.DeBord on Monday, June 04, 2001 - 04:08 pm: Edit

Actually my original question wasen't about judging her, it was judging what my behavior should be at this early of a stage and if I should think twice about leaving recipes around?

I'd like to see a job description for a kitchen position since I've never seen one written by someone else, yet alone one that's done well. I have a fax but I suppose it's best not to list it in such a public place. Could I e-mail you my number?

What's your e-mail Chef Manny?

By jkapple on Monday, June 04, 2001 - 11:42 pm: Edit

After an extensive search last year, I chose a very good and inexpensive recipe management software program called "Now You're Cooking!" It's easy to enter, scan or import recipes. You can scan and attach images up to 250 kb. Once recipes are entered, you can scale the recipes to any amount you want. It does nutritional analysis and better yet, will create a shopping list for any set of recipes (each recipe can be scaled individually). It has quite a few other features and has won several awards. It has been been a huge help in organizing my small catering business. It costs only $39 (lifetime upgrades included) and you can download it and try it 60 days for free. If you are willing to pay $500 or more there are slicker more comprehensive packages out there like Cheftec, but "Now You're Cooking!" does so much for only a few bucks.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, June 05, 2001 - 08:18 am: Edit

D my e-mails are or
or just click on my name on the posts it will take you right to the e-mail

By Rc_fleming (Rc_fleming) on Tuesday, June 05, 2001 - 09:14 pm: Edit

Don't worry about sharing your recipes or even procedure. To paraphrase Friberg;

Give 'em all your cards, just be working on something new.

It seems that you're more worried about your assistant actually stealing your written recipes, not the intellectual prop. Just make it clear that if she wants a copy she can get it. Then she wouldn't feel that she would have to steal them.

It doesn't make any sense to not to share any part of a recipe. Putting down the formula and not the procedure or mise en place just seems needlessy punitive and even petty. It also has the potential of keeping good technique from passing on.

Seashell was right though, it is always important to let your employees know that you have confidence in their abilities.
You also might want to help her get started on her own library. Take some time and put together an annotated biblography.

Good luck with your new assistant,

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, June 05, 2001 - 09:56 pm: Edit

I just had to pop on to pleasantly dissagree about method and proceedure. My formulas have3 ended up in some strange places. If a person does not know instinctly how to put together a recipe than they don't need it. Most of my formulas have not left with employees, the have been given to others by employees. I speak from the proprietor side. I'm not being paranoid, it's just there are a few thing that my customers come from far and near for.

By Debord (Debord) on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 08:10 am: Edit

See I tend to side with Panini. This person has told me her goal is to open a bakery. Shes' been employeed at many places in her brief career and I tend to think her first goal in a job is to gather info. she an take with her, then it's to do the job (I can't blame her for putting her interests first). I don't feel like I "owe" her anything at this point in our relationship. Certainly down the line if she sticks things out and is helpful doing a good job and trying hard I'd be happy to share. Heck, I hand out recipes here to strangers all the time...

I watch and help her all day learn technique....and it seems no one has shown her a short cut to anything. Sometimes you have to wonder why she's getting paid, it's feels like I should be paid extra for the private lessons.

I'm always making new items, updating my recipe file and increasing my abilities. My artistic skills can't be copied by anyone with-out some REAL ability. So I feel really secure about that. But I'm not going to be anyones door mat.

This whole thread... my questions are seeking balance and clarifing my thoughts so I'm prepared at our class room (called work).

By Yankee on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 12:21 pm: Edit

When I hire someone new I always advise them to keep their own copy of my recipies in their own notebook and in their own words. Ha.

That's how I used to do it. No one who has worked for me has ever kept their own book. It's more fun to pull down the big book each time you make the same thing day after day and get it coated with product.

Anyways, I used to catch people writing down my stuff when I wasn't looking (as I used to do). I just laugh. A recipe is just that, even with a basic method noted with it, most baking requires that little extra bit of attention that you can't get through written text.

One of my last assistants who ran a cafe on the side started openly trying to use my stuff at her place. She even had the nerve to bring some of it back for me to taste.

By Yankee on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 12:27 pm: Edit

When I asked for a consulting fee, she just laughed. But, so did I. Why? Becuase she sucked at baking and her stuff was awful.

A friend also tried her desserts at her new place. Some of the stuff he described was right out of my book, but he said it wasn't really done that well.

Pissed? I just laugh. I am more worried about her telling people that they are my recipies and not hers and after they don't turn out.

By Rc_fleming (Rc_fleming) on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 04:24 pm: Edit

ALl right I concede the point. You guys have a responsiblity to protect your customers from being poached.

I was thinking that people would build off of your ideas not openly copy them. I guess people are not that honest.

Yankee is right though. You only have a problem if people start to do your own recipes better then you can.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 07:15 pm: Edit

I think you misunderstood yankee, He was worried about his name being associated with products that were poorer not better.
This is something I worry about, I have competition making my Triple Nut Torte and calling it 3 nut tart.It's not good at all.
? how did you get your bettet to slant like that?

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 07:16 pm: Edit

I think you misunderstood yankee, He was worried about his name being associated with products that were poorer not better.
This is something I worry about, I have competition making my Triple Nut Torte and calling it 3 nut tart.It's not good at all.
? how did you get your better to slant like that?

By Rc_fleming (Rc_fleming) on Wednesday, June 06, 2001 - 09:17 pm: Edit

Yankee was not worried about compition because they could not make a quality product from his recipes for whatever reason. So conversly...

Do they call it Panini's three nut torte? If not, your rep should be fine. Just because people make really bad cheesecakes doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't make better ones.

There are instructions for formatting your text in the side bar under documentation then formatting.

By debord on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 07:10 am: Edit

I'm thinking this isn't working out, how far would you take trying before you decided this person isn't right and trying someone else is in order?

We're on our third week together and I'm feeling frustrated by her, not relieved by her assistance. I walk her though everything I ask her to do. I ask her to take notes. She says "I have a really good memory do I have to?". Then I say it will help me relax (on my day off) knowing you understand what I want done and how. So I make the list, as I show physically and verbally what I want done, she nodds her head she understands. This takes time, of course so that's the price of training, oh well...

I come back after my day off. She didn't put the garnish on the cheesecake, instead of putting out chocolate chip cookies and macaroons which were listed (and shown to her)she put out chocolate chip macaroons. When asked what happened she laughed, "Oh, I thought you meant xyz". I say "No that's why I gave you a specific list of what I want, etc...". (I wonder what she didn't do that I just didn't see.) She has my home number and was told to call me if she had any problems...the phone never rang (I was home). I left her a tart to bake off (a very simple one) and she didn't bake it correctly so that didn't go out. In a 9 hour shift she cut 5 items and couldn't make the 6th, plus she baked off 20 cobblers (I made the top and the bottom all she did was place together and bake) and washed 40 individual tart pans. This should have taken about 3 hours for a beginner to cut, tray and screw-up.

She works slow and rolls her eyes when you tell her how to go about doing something better/quicker with a verbal "yes madam" which is not how she addresses me when I'm not correcting her. I show her how to do something but I have to watch over her constantly because she goes astray (leaves a batch of tempered chocolate on the heat while she goes and makes coffee), then I save the product and explain where she went wrong. Then I get to hear "I know" and as I'm explaining the how's and why's (the baking principal she missed) she interrupts me and continues explaining why she thought otherwise (which just angers me because it doesn't matter, just learn and go on).

She came with experience and schooling but I find her to be equal in knowledge yet slower than a dishwasher helping me. I find her attitute most distressing!(I've been politely explaining she should not take correction/teaching her as personal, I'm only teaching her how and why I want something done a certain way), but I can't take "I know" one more time WHEN SHE CLEARLY "DOESN'T KNOW"!

Cut her free or re-think what I'm doing, maybe I'm not explaining well enough? My Mother's advise is "if she's not a help then what's the point?", is it too soon to tell?

By bratgirl on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 09:19 am: Edit

I wish you were in NY so I could work for you!!! not even I stink so bad!!!!

By Yankee on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 12:50 pm: Edit

Perhaps instead of telling her everything, have her explain to you what/how/why she is going to do for each project before she gets started?

Tell her you want to have it explain it to you in her words so that you know she understands (put that great memory of hers to work).

I too have people who never write anything down, it drives me nuts.

Perhaps you should have a little sit down and go over a specific group of job responsibilites with her. Tell her which ones she is doing well and which ones she needs to improve. Have her sign it and start the paper trail to letting her go if need be.

Three weeks is bit soon, unless there is a major personality clash.

Good luck.

By d. on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 09:40 pm: Edit

I, too, have had that same experience. When we are busy here in catering world, we tend to hire "temp" help for the weekends and busy seasons. I already have one full-time assistant who is great at taking care of the "mise en place", so I can devote time to the wedding cakes and plated desserts. I've almost given up on the temp help because they can't even cut pans of bars/brownies into 2" x 2" correctly; claim they are pastry chefs because they just graduated from school. So instead of me getting peace of mind that someone is taking care of cutting the bar stuff, I have to look over their shoulder and make sure they measure right and deal with "I know". It's frustrating! Right know I have a great guy from the hot kitchen as my second assistant and seems to have the talent. Problem is we shuttle him back and forth from hot side to pastry, so he's not mine on a daily basis.
Maybe give it another week with your assistant, and then decide. You seem to be looking at it very objectively, and a 1 month trial seems fair to me(at least from my perspective and experience).

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Thursday, June 21, 2001 - 11:36 pm: Edit

O.K. The bottom line with assistants. A good assistant is a person who can play the game "HOW WELL CAN YOU FOLLOW DIRECTIONS?". In this world you either need to lead, or follow, or get the hell out of the way. I know this sounds cruel, but the next time that person tells you "they know", I'd tell them that they "might know" but I pay them to do it "MY WAY". "EVERY TIME". "IN MY TIME FRAME". Or they may look for "ANOTHER JOB!". Seriously, bad help is worse than no help at all. And we all REALLY appreciate good help.

By W.DeBord on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 08:15 am: Edit

Thanks everyone I needed some imput!

I had her work out of my "space" yesterday, that helped me greatly. I wasn't tripping over her........ and I could concentrate on MY work.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 08:47 am: Edit

Dump her!!! It sounds like an attitude problem more than anything else.
DeBord, I have noticed that in some kitchens a helper might be jealous or even resentful that his/her boss is his/her boss. The answer might be that simple. This person might be a Culinary grad who thinks they know it all or, it may be an untrained person off the street.
Also, you beign a female in a limelight position (real or perceived by the asst.) might intimidate some persons be it male or female, especially if you have a strong personality which it sounds like you have. It's the classic if you are a guy you are tough, if you are female you are a b---- syndrome. Find someone that suits your personality first, the rest you can teach.

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 12:19 pm: Edit

I have to agree with Manny. If she thinks she knows it all, then she needs to be in a place where she knows it all. Learn from this and it will help you not to get in the same situation again. Hope you did your job description and expectations. You'll need them.

By Junior (Junior) on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 05:20 pm: Edit

yeah,debord,sounds like ya might wanna drop kick that little play ground ball.the way i do it,i don't get involved in their personal welfare. after i've blown a substantial amount of cigarette smoke in their face,i let 'em know the rules.if i don't say nothin' to them they're probably doing what they are suposed to be doing. if not i'm gonna be on them like a texas rainstorm. that's what happened to me and it ain;t gonna be any different for them. so if there are any wiseacre newbee's out there,listen up. pull any crap with me and i'm gonna bounce your butt out the door. ain't no warnings,don't give lessons. ...junior

By Junior (Junior) on Friday, June 22, 2001 - 05:24 pm: Edit

yeah,debord,sounds like ya might wanna drop kick that little play ground ball.the way i do it,i don't get involved in their personal welfare. after i've blown a substantial amount of cigarette smoke in their face,i let 'em know the rules.if i don't say nothin' to them they're probably doing what they are suposed to be doing. if not i'm gonna be on them like a texas rainstorm. that's what happened to me and it ain;t gonna be any different for them. so if there are any wiseacre newbee's out there,listen up. pull any crap with me and i'm gonna bounce your butt out the door. ain't no warnings,don't give lessons. ...junior

By debord on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 12:58 am: Edit

Unforunately I lost it abit on Friday with her attitute. It just really sets me off the wrong way. I decided to play-out her "I knowwwwwww" rolling her eyes at me garbage...I decided to ask her how she knew what I wanted before I told her. She just stared at me and went "Huh?", "yeah how do you always know what I want and why I want it done a certain way before I tell you?", then she starts to explain how she deducted her last "I know" when I cut her off and gave her the details of why her deduction wasn't my reasoning, or thoughts and she shouldn't presume she knows me or this job so well in 3 weeks. That would have shut up and corrected most people but she didn't loose a beat.

All day long one dirrection after another is greeted this I barely want to talk to her. I set her off in a corner to play making some tuiles to get her out of my system for awhile. She took forever spreading out the batter (she never used a scoop for consistancy in size, it didn't matter I didn't need the cookies) so she kept adding and subtracting batter to get them the same size. Then she crowded them on the silpat and put 2 trays into the oven at once. I kept waiting for her to ask me what she could form them over (since I don't have anything but a broom handle to use and her batter was too small to work on the handle) finally she asked and didn't like using my broom handle so she told me she could form them over her finger. "Well you have to do that quickly I remarked" (knowing she wasen't going to pull that off), "I've done it before" was her response "I can just pop them back into the oven so their flexable again if I need to (her eyes were saying DA to me)", so I continued ignoring her and working. A while later she comes back and tells me her supprise that once they got dark form reheating and reheating that she couldn't form them any more "could she leave them flat?" (I should take notes because she just discovered this fact for all future pastry chefs). So I told her "I thought you knew that would happen", she looked puzzled at me, "well you seem to know everything so I figured you knew THAT BASIC FACT"...then I told her she can do things the hard way or the easy way at this job etc.... needless to say she remained rather quite the rest of the day, which was very pleasant.

I can't believe a culinary school would let someone think they could behave like this on the job. This isn't play time where we bake one tuile at a time.

By The baker on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 05:37 am: Edit

Your asst. sounds lke she is young.

I started school late, i was almost 32 but everyone else in the class was in their early 20's late teens.
the did not listen to the chef half the time they just did there own thing,and came and went like they pleased.
The chef/instructor did tell everyone no matter what you learn in here every chef has there own way of doing things so you ask how they want it first and never assume you know better.

But the best advice I got was from a chef friend, he told me to keep my mouth shut and my ears and eyes have 2 eyes and 2 ears but 1 mouth do more listening than talking......

By Debord (Debord) on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 06:03 pm: Edit

Pretty logical huh Baker? Na shes' in her thirtys...
Oh well, I'm letting her (I'm not into games) go.

I'm still not totally sure how to avoid choosing the wrong person again. I looked for some skill and experience... she can talk pastry, but words and actions are very different. I forgot to ask if she could follow dirrections (I thought that was a given?). In conversation I realize she didn't list all her previous jobs (I think that could be a very long list and that would have had some weight in my choosing her or not) do I avoid letting someone fool me again?
She also was very quite and respectful when interviewing, I kept trying to draw out info. from her but she played her cards very close.

SOoooo now I'm rethinking my list of interview questions... anyone have any imput as to what questions they found to be revealing either that you ask your employees or that someone asked you along the way? Real questions not insults, please?

By Junior (Junior) on Sunday, June 24, 2001 - 08:32 pm: Edit

no experience here in interviewing. however i would ask you if you are the hire/fire jperson or are you being given these people by management? in my case i was always given them to train.see my brutality post the end it's a crap shoot,per any of the tomes i've read on the subject. you could try this: see if they are bluecollar. if they are whiny office workers trying to be working class heroes,you're in for some work. white collar workers are notoriosly bad at working with their hands.dee if they ever dealt with the public for a while. just vthe way they carry themselves is a good indicator.if they are over thirty,thats why the military doesn't take people that age they're to old. any way look at them and the resume,that's all you got...junior

By The Baker on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 05:20 am: Edit


I never hired anyone in my present field but in my last one I did do some (with the help of the owner)

we hit a string of bad hires and one day I said to the owner "wow, what kind of recommendation did you get from there last jobs"
He said "Oh.... I dont really call people from the past, Past is past"
This to me is crazy you must call up some of there last places and check them out even if, just to get a feel for how they work even if it was not in the field because a good worker is a good worker no matter what.

By debord on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:20 am: Edit

We had planned to call on her references but she came in with a letter of recommendation from a well known restaurant so the manager told me that was good enough. I choose her, but I was ordered to hire someone with experience IN BAKING and she was the only one who had ANY so it wasen't like I had alot of people to choose from.

I will call on references next time! I agree Baker, a good worker is a good worker....I even told my manager yesterday that I thought it was a mistake to focus so tightly on experience. When really the abilitiy to follow dirrections and hussle are far more important in a secondary position so long as you have experience in the main position....manager didn't agree with me, oh well that's typical........

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 07:37 am: Edit

You haven't dumped her yet D?
You are a glutton for punishment!
Use some of the questionares I faxed you. Ask questions related to the job they will be performing.
Ask them to come work for a day or two, (paid) on their day off from their job now so you can see what they can do.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 10:08 am: Edit

I only have a minute. These are some of the things I look for in hiring:
Resume: length of time at past jobs, reasons for leaving, general experience. It is hard to tell from a resume anything but general background.
Written application: is it completely and correctly filled out, penmanship. You can actually tell a lot about how someone fills out a handwritten app.
Interview: punctuality, rappor with applicant, general appearance. These days, when I interview, I talk about the job description, me and how I work, my expectations, and a little "shop talk" Lately, I have been including what I call "Worst Case Scenerios" that may happen, to judge their responses in real-life situations. I rarely check past jobs because by law a prior employer can only verify if they worked there. I DO check personal references.
And finally: realize that assistants are people either on their was up, or on their way down.

By Junior (Junior) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 11:32 am: Edit

here again, the world is divided up into people who do what they say and those that don' they show up on time? the other horsehockey can be taught,you cannot teach character...junior.

By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 04:42 pm: Edit

Latest rant, part 2.
Another BIG red flag for me is applicants that seem OVERLY CONFIDENT about the new job. My opinion about that attitude is that the person is a total idiot who really doesn't know what the job entails, or they are are a cooking savant. Sadly the first case is usually true. Almost EVERYONE I have ever hired with the "this job is gonna be easy" stuff, I've ended up walking.
I have worked in over 40 restaurants, been in the biz for over 25 years, and I still get the jitters when I start a new venture! Why? Because even with all MY experience, I don't know how YOU (my new supervisor) want it done.
Cocky attitude = basic lack of respect. Ugly.
Good luck on your next hire.

By Yankee on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 05:11 pm: Edit

Yes, I just ran one of those types out of my place: "Yeah, I can make ice cream base, I know, I know."

Problem was she could not make anglais, and worse yet, didn't know what broken angalis looked like. (Even after two weeks of patient demos.) So, I would come in each morning and find an assortment of bases, all broken.

"Why do I need to know the metric system? It's for the 'non-English'." Yeah, celcius is a tough one! Damn those non-English.

"I need to take another (15th of the day) smoke break now." Hack, hack.

"I hate plating." Front and center on the job description.

"I hate speaking Spnaish." Sorry, this is California, and this is the restaurant business.

"I bored, there is nothing to do." Messy station with no mise en place for the next day.

"But, you know, this is going to be my last assistant job. I think I'm ready to do my own menu."

Er, ok. Just try to learn a few basics first. Here is your last pay check. Ciao!

By junior on Monday, June 25, 2001 - 10:20 pm: Edit

hey, at some point they all leave.heck,at some point we all leave.

By The Baker on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 05:37 am: Edit

"But, you know, this is going to be my last assistant job. I think I'm ready to do my
own menu."

That one is a good one, everyone now whats to run before they can walk ...

By debord on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 07:59 am: Edit

"everyone now want's to run before they can walk"....I re-read her resume' yesterday. I'm sooooo stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew it was exagerated from a quick glance and I mentioned that to manager before she came in but it showed experience and that was what I was looking for, so I bit. It was sloppy written/formated with NO DATES and I just blew it off (I didn't realize it signaled an over inflated ego).

I really didn't take the time to evaluate it properly. I feel pretty stupid. I don't have it infront of me but she listed skills in management, mass production and a half dozen more advanced skills (I should post it it's pretty funny actually) since she graduated 4 years ago.

By junior on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 08:25 am: Edit

yeah debord, post it. i'd like to see it. when i do my resume`, it would be nice to see what hers looked like. actually the french bread recipe in the machine turned out o.k. used sugar substitute.the bread tasted sweeter than normal.i guess the machine is o.k. if you don't have time to use an oven. also, now that i'm thinking on it,torres does mention that the quantities are an approximation of u.s. measurements and he says the flour is close to french flour. given previous postings this may have an effect.maybe redo the recipes in metric?...junior

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 08:29 am: Edit

D, next time take the time to read the resume like you did now! If the employee is overqualified for the job according to the resume, they are either lying or have a character flaw which does not allow them to stay at a job for any significant period of time. Unless they are young and jumping around for experience, which could have been the possibility with this resume since she is young (recently out of school). Sometimes skills listed are very ambiguos or vague; what are mgmt. skills? it could be balancing your checkbook or house budget. Production skills could be dinner at home or a party for 10,000, it's all relative and you have to relate to the actual task implied in the skill.

By MarkG on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 08:45 am: Edit

As someone who ran a small office in the information business before opening our wholesale bakery, I can't impress upoon you enough how important that resume and job application is. Peachcreek is dead-on with penmanship, spelling, etc. Other than the interview, which can be deceiving, these two peices of information are your only source of insight into these potential employees. If you know how to read them, you can save yourself a lot of agonizing. Fire 'em before you hire 'em was always my motto. I also always gave them an introductory 2-week trial, paid in cash, if possible, in which, after a conference, either they or I could quit or fire them without consequences, hard feelings. etc. They had to prove themselves as hard-working, capable employees while I had to prove to them that this was a good company to work for.


By Peachcreek (Peachcreek) on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 10:05 am: Edit

Latest rant, part 3.
Small business owners beware!
I tried to use the "Probationary Period", like you said, Mark. Heres' a story for you.
So, I start the guy for a week. We agree that he will be paid cash, if it doesn't work out he said he would leave. Fine. The guy starts the workweek. After the first day it is apparent the guy isn't going to work out, but with only minor crises, we manage to get through the week. We agree that it isn't going to work, the guy picks up the cash and leaves. Perfect. A few days later, I get a letter from the Employment office. He left that day and went and filed an unemployment claim against me because he said I fired him WITHOUT CAUSE!
Some people just don't get it.
Moral of the story: Don't bend the rules! Someone of these losers will get you in a lot of trouble.
Everyone now goes through the formal hiring system. They get a W-2 or a 1099 even if they work a few days.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 10:27 am: Edit

If you have a probationary period it must be stated in an employee handbook or on piece of paper the employee signs. To CYA, legally and otherwise. If you pay him cash.......that's fine too, just have them sign a form stating they are working for a probationary period; which at the end of, or prior to the end of this period he may be discharged without cause or he may leave without repercussions.
The main thing is you have to have it documented!!!
Most states require a minimun number of days worked at a place in order to collect unemployment, check in your area. (That could be your probationary period).

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, June 26, 2001 - 05:50 pm: Edit

unemployment varies from state to state. Manny's got it CYA. You must follow the rules. The minor crises need to be documented. What's the deal paying in cash? federal? CALL EVERY REFERENCE ON THE APPLICATION business and casual. I don't put a lot into penmenship and grammar. Look at me!!!
We need type A personalities , most don't have beautiful handwritting etc. If I see an application that looks like it has been typed, everything perfect, it throws up a red flag, especially if it has taken them a long time to finish. Anal retentive, affraid to make descissions on their own, etc. It works both ways. I always have them put together something and decorate. my 2 centsas usual
Debord, it appears to have been a positive thing, no?

By debord on Wednesday, June 27, 2001 - 07:31 am: Edit

Yes, I've learned alot through this experience. We gave her a verbal probationary notice only. I think she's someone who knows the system with un-employement....

Get this, yesterday the original quite, listening assistant came to work (she lost her attitute) maybe I got thru to her on Fri. ? NA....probably not!

She's early 30's (NOT a KID) this is her second college degree (other is in fashion) shes from CHIC graduated 4 years ago and studied last year at Ecole Le Notre and Ritz Escoffier, Paris last year for 6 months total. Plans to go back to college in the fall to get teaching degree (for high school ed., not culinary) and open a bakery on the side.

There had to be several other career attempts in addition to the 2 I know of because there are 9 years missing from her fashion education and when her resume' begins in culinary. Heres her resume'.

1st job: Contractor for special events. Responsible for setting up pm catered events and Supervision of staff.

2nd job: Work with chef in planning pastry menu for special events and ALL aspects of production.

3rd: In charge of daily production, food cost, ordering and Supervision of staff.

4th job the known restaurant where she had a letter of recommendation: Responsible for daily production and plating for service and private parties.

5th: Assist in all aspects of daily operation of kitchen. BULK production, restaurant service, banquet production.

Don't follow her lead Junior (she's not a savant), common sense says you weren't running the place at your first job. Management doesn't want to "terminate", I was advised to get her to walk. The 4th of July almost kills me every year I get close to breaking down (seriously) I'll pass the torch.

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