The New Bakers Dozen
Can i have my cake and eat it too ???

The The Bakers Dozen: Can i have my cake and eat it too ???
By mikebel on Saturday, September 30, 2000 - 08:06 am: Edit

ive been thinkin this one over for a few mnths-years now i have been in the industry for 8 years now since school thru an apprenticeship bakery and patisserie and now im workin at lge set up at the sydney opera house in australia (yipee tomorrow is the last day of the olympics) the question i put forward is this im startin to feel is it possible to work in this industry that i really enjoy, and still maintain a life sometimes i feel like i miss out on the recreational side of life after a 65 hr week and life is passing me by how do others cope with this? family friends? sports? etc... do u make time somewhere do u just close your eyes and pretend that work is the be all and end all(i know people like this)i hope i dont sound like a cry baby its just im trying to find a balance so i can have my cake and eat it too(excuse the bad pun) any ideas would be appreciated.
cheers mike

By raine on Saturday, September 30, 2000 - 06:17 pm: Edit

Ahhhh, this is when an hourly job comes in handy.

A salaried position looks good on paper. But in the end it is usually the employee that gets screwed.

At the end of my scheduled 9 hours. I can go home, the choice to stay is up to me. And I am compensated for the extra effort with time and a half.

The only draw back is, you have to be very organized, very fast, and very acurate, there is little to no room for error.

It's something you might want to look into.

By Chefrick (Chefrick) on Saturday, September 30, 2000 - 06:31 pm: Edit

The perfect balance is hard to achieve,I took a job at a local comunity college.I gave up alot of cash to get the time off to "have a life",I still get to do all of the creative stuff,but gave up alot of the controls.I now work less than 50hrs a week,no nights,three day weekends,all major holidays off(paid)kept the benifits,lost alot of the headaches-for me it was a good trade.Which reminds me,I think I'll go fishing,see ya monday!

By d. on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 03:01 pm: Edit

Hi mikebel! Raine is right about the hourly position(unless the salaried amount is really well worth all the hours). I work an average of 40 - 60 hours a week(and anywhere in between 84-100 around holiday time), depending on the catering business. I get time and a half after 8 hours and double time after 12 hours. When those looooong days do kick in with no day off in sight; with sore feet and aching tired muscles, it really makes me question if it is worth. In our business, we do need to take a break, or else burn out. I almost did and I'm only 29.

By d. on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 03:05 pm: Edit

I love my work so much that even after my shift I sit at home for a couple hours and work out or improve recipes. But I force myself to take time(whatever little is left of the day)and take a walk, go have dinner with my husband, go to the gym, etc. We don't have kids which makes it easier to spend time together. The most important thing for both of us is to be together.I get vacation 2 weeks out of the year so we split the weeks and take off in January and Sept. I must admit it must be quite difficult if having kids was involved.
Hang in there, mikebel. Do you have any slow weeks ahead after the olympics? Try to take some time off and do some fun things.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 04:17 pm: Edit

If you're considering a job change, how about taking a month (or more) off in between? It may take a while to get yourself in a financial position to do so, but it might recharge you, or help you discover just what "balance" will work for you. Or maybe just take a break by working one of those hourly jobs for a few months. Just earn enough to pay your bills and work as few hours as possible. Or maybe work outside the industry for a while. You might see some new things or meet some new people and that might lead you to a new situation (back within the industry)that could be more what you're looking for.

Good Luck!

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, October 01, 2000 - 05:32 pm: Edit

Are you in a management position? Do you work hourly? The hospitality industry su-ks, you are always working when others are playing.The holiday brunches use to really get me especially after having my son.
One thing I always did when I was in a management position was to calculate my labor cost and make sure it was in line. The bakeshop always seemed to be shortchanged. I always did my homework, got the area average, the internal food service average etc.,Calculated my own. If it was low I would fight for an equal labor force. If you are a manager and in a production mode, there is something wrong. You can't manage.
Aw, just my 2cents

By W.DeBord on Monday, October 02, 2000 - 10:06 am: Edit

Actually this year I can say "I've had my cake and eaten it too!"

I work at a small private club that isn't in the business to make a profit just break even. Being a pastry chef is the best position time wise in the kitchen. Because I don't have to be there to serve, I can pre-plate. Unless it's something like souffles, otherwise I set my own hours completely. Although I'm always "on call" I still can't really plan a personal life, but I can control my hours in ways that other positions can't. I also control what I make...that's really important.

I am salaried, but this year I've gotten the best of it. In our busiest months I kept my hours under 50 every week and now I'm averaging around 37. We are closed in Jan. so I get a entire month paid off!

So, as much as I complain and warn people who enter this field telling them what it's really like, maybe there's hope.

But this was the first year I could say this.

By d. on Tuesday, October 03, 2000 - 10:25 pm: Edit

A month paid vacation --- now that is a really sweet deal!!!

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, October 04, 2000 - 08:40 am: Edit

Well it kind of depends upon how you do your math thru out the a salaried employee I only get the min. required by law for over time in my state. I get around $5.00 for OT when the hourly employees are getting time and a half.

So it's only sweet if you can keep your over time hours down.

By Yankee on Thursday, October 05, 2000 - 01:24 pm: Edit

I think most of it boils down to control over your own fate. We all makes choices, as we did to get into this line of work. This business will indeed work you pretty hard unless you can work your way up to or out of jobs that don't compensate.

I pull 14-15 hour days with no overtime beacause I am a "mananger." I do what I need to do to get the job done and get extra paid vacation time to cover my OT. I also have a pretty good pay rate and bonus plan. But, I worked through and out of crummy jobs, to get here.

My attitude has always been that the grass isn't always greener, as every job sucks in it's own way. That's why they call it work. I like this kind of work, but I know this lifestyle isn't going to work when we start having kids.

If you are not happy, find another job. I don't mean to sound harsh, but there are so many options in this industry. You have to make those options for yourself, don't expect them to just appear.

By W.DeBord on Friday, October 06, 2000 - 08:25 am: Edit

I disagree Yankee or at least I don't see or know of those REAL options that await all of us who want a family life and a job being a chef. Just get out of the industry? What about the fact that you have invested years in your profession? Just start a new job mid-life in a new field?

I've never been able to understand why there can't be some compromises in this field. Such as working every other weekend or every other holiday. If given options like that I don't know of anyone who wouldn't work much harder and even longer hours to acheive those goals. Of course that wouldn't work in very small companies, but I think most employees in food service would love to compensate for a more "normal" lifestyle.

I'm hoping that the tight labor market and the rise in numbers of people going to culinary school will bring more compensation to this industry because I think we are still in the dark ages.

By Yankee on Friday, October 06, 2000 - 01:37 pm: Edit

I was making a general comment about attitude. One can sit on the boat and b*tch, or grab a paddle (er, whip?) and do something about it. I've got a good situation now, but I have headhunters looking and am always talking with people about what they do etc.

I have friends who have become reps (wine and specialty items). They seem to be much happier. I don't think that's for me, but they seem to like it.

This is also my second career and my experiences have taught me not to fear anything. The business is still in the dark ages, so what? The month of December off? Paid? And that's bad? I'm lucky if I'll see the light of day the whole month.

Mikebel went to Sydney. Maybe it sucked because much of his time was spent working, but he was still there.

My significant other also feels that changing careers means "selling out." I disagree. The only person you are selling out is yourself and those you love if you don't do the things necessary to control your own life.

By W.DeBord on Friday, October 06, 2000 - 07:37 pm: Edit

Well I do agree with your last post ....but it I don't really believe there are enough good reasons for this industry to not "take care" of their people better. I agree if you don't like it get out...what if you love cooking and are talented at it too? It's not professional sports where you need to retire because your body can't take it.

We have made an investment in our time and knowledge, just starting new, will one day become scarie for you (trust me)too. If you ever think of getting out, get out now, because tomarrow happens really really fast!

Should we all get out because we want to have a family? What's wrong with every other weekend or holiday off? We all have someone who covers our butt for some period of time sometimes, why not on a weekend? Why can't we put in for a day off and actually get it regardless of who booked what when?

P.S. It's Jan. I have off...but that's o.k. I ski.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Saturday, October 07, 2000 - 01:57 am: Edit

I happened to run across this in the online library of congress.

The Gay Old Cook

If you look beyond the obvious chauvinism of its time I think this poem has something to say about the subject at hand. I smile every time I read it. It reminds me of some of the older cooks and chefs I have worked with through out the years.

By mikebel on Saturday, October 07, 2000 - 04:33 am: Edit

thanx for the posts people sorry i havent replied the olympics are over now and we have a brief break to normality before the paralympics start,i travelled here to be a part of something huge it was huge and im glad i did it,ive heard rep jobs and teaching can be quite enjoyable for some,perhaps when im older and can wear a tie without choking i will give it a go. But for the moment i feel the same as w.debord it would help our industry to hold onto more experienced and older staff by relaxing what can be often expected by some employers when it comes to a point where people have to chose between having a family and continuing with a career which she or he has invested a great deal of time and skill.

By Bakerboy (Bakerboy) on Saturday, October 07, 2000 - 03:18 pm: Edit

I agree with yankee. If you make the choice to stay in this line of work...don't ••••• about it. Also, every job in this line of work is very different. But don't wait for ever to get out...A lot of jobs in this field don't have 401k, or any other neccessary benefits. I think now that the economy is booming, there are a lot of people that are gonna leave this type of work because the pay is ridiculous, the hours are insane, and the benifits..non-existant. A lot of businesses in foodservice, especially restaurants are gonna have to start relying on teenagers. They will be the only ones applying for the jobs and they will only stay temporally till they find something better. Restaurant owners can't afford to pay good and give benefits..So I guess you just take it or leave it cause thats the way its gonna be..

By mikebel on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 03:34 am: Edit

i disagree entirely with you there bakery boy for one thing people who go out to a restaurant and im not talkin about some american franchise steakhouse where food comes to you straight from the fryer im talkin about an establishment where people go with friends,partners and family to enjoy a special meal being treated special by well trained staff and if you can convince me that there are people out there who are going to spend $$$$$$ to have teenages straight out of college or worse off the street cooking there meals im sorry i cant see that happening bud and if it does then the person who set up that business might as well go out the back and set fire to his money cause hey i cant see a QUALITY establishment lasting long.

By mikebel on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 03:35 am: Edit

what i am saying is, and this has been proved so many times in this industry is that the good places treat there staff well and im not just talkin money(i would gladly xchange money for a place where peoples time and effort is appreciated where u have input into the companys growth and where you are considered part of a team not as a number or just another chef)these places keep there staff which makes for a good team that knows each other and works off each other your not having to continously train people up p.s im not just critising for the fun of it its just as most people i think this is a issue that could do a lot to improve long term involvement in this industry which can only lead on to better things for all
cheers mikebel

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 04:39 am: Edit

I just wanted to jump in and say that I agree with you. Unfortuneatly the industry over the last twenty has shifted it's concern from the customer to the bottom line. There are some big franchises and large foodservice corps. hotel conglomerates, where there is no attention payed to the customer.BOTTOMLINE,LABOR,PRODUCTIVITY,ETC.
Hell, most of your larger companies are run by people who don't even have food knowlege. This is happening right now with the upscale dining restaurants. Investors are offering these chefs lots of money to buy them out, then they send them out to open new units and spend half their time doing personal appearances etc.
Enough of my rant. Find a nice family style run business and, work to live, not live to work.

PS. its perfectly ok to ••••• at times, I actually encourage it, the last thing I want is an employee that hold things in, and just hits the door one day. Thats not productive for either.
good luck

By Bakerboy (Bakerboy) on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 02:31 pm: Edit

Ok so heres another twist on this conversation...What can we do about the bad employers?. I have seen things like the following happen many times before...An employee will call out sick and the employer won't believe them. Eventually the employee gets really sick and has to call out again. Now they want a doctors note and the employee has no insurance and not enough money to go to a doctor anyway. So the employee will quit because they have the feeling that the employer doesn't trust them, and the boss also is mean to them when they come back to work.Sometimes the employee is also fired. This could be a bad employee or a drunk, but could also be a great employee who has an immaculate attendence record who just got sick....I have seen situations like this and I have also seen employees come to work sick for fear of being fired. I once saw a guy who came in pukeing. He did his work and when he felt his insides come up he ran to the trash can. The boss did tell him to go home eventually, but that is beside the point..He shouldn't have been so scared about being fired....

By Yankee on Sunday, October 08, 2000 - 02:59 pm: Edit

Actually for us it's just the opposite: it's impossible to get fired.

The labor market out here is so tight, it's nearly impossible to find qualified people. So, we end up putting up with a lot of crap. You really have to screw up to get the boot. It makes ME want to puke. I've started to see "reward" money ($250 - $500) in the classified ads for line cooks.

By raine on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 10:19 am: Edit

It's the exact opposite here also.

It's frustrating to have a poor employee in the crew, but even more frustrating to be a person short. On average, it takes any where from 3-4 weeks to find someone to fill a position. As it stands now, our last person to leave was a full timer. We had to down grade the position to part time just to fill it. Fortunately for us, she is a good worker and was very easy to train. Management is now in the process of talking her into leaving her other job. I hope they are sucessful, because I'm getting tired of picking up the slack in the front end.

By Bakerboy (Bakerboy) on Monday, October 09, 2000 - 10:16 pm: Edit

Well thats what I am saying folks...Since the economy is booming right now a lot of restaurants are at a loss. People would rather work a job with better hours and better pay. So the bosses or owners of foodservice operations have to pay more and give better benefits to get quality employees. Otherwise they are gonna have to take teenagers with little or no training and suck it up..

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