The light at the end of the tunnel seems dim. Pro Cooking and Baking Tips and Tricks: The light at the end of the tunnel seems dim.
By Kchef (Kchef) on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 08:57 am: Edit

I could use some advice.... I've been in my current kitchen for seven years. Well it's only been "my" kitchen for about four. A year ago, almost two, the establishment was purchased by a development company owned by two men who have no knowlege of the industry. They like to spew their opinions upon me and change things without notification. Now I have been knee-deep in it since I was 16. I have held the Exec. position in a couple of places, Sous, etc.. so I can deal with owners that don't know operations, my problem is this: we are far from being a metropolitan area and the employment market for kitchen staff is rather lacking. Turnover is high.{of course) I should say turn-out because turnover would indicate replacement. I generally have 15-20 BOH employees late spring through late fall then cut back to 8-12 in winter. The most I have had all year is 8. Only 4 cooks. I am not a rigid, do it my way kind of guy, hell with the lack of help I have developed this "just get it done" attitude, not always having the time to properly train, inspect, motivate, etc.... I would so love to focus on menu development, training procedures, and of course food %. Problem is I am unable to find and retain qualified kitchen help. Even when I think I found one that has skills, they pull a no-call no-show. How do I combat the labor market? There just isn't enough hours in the day to do it all myself and physically I am starting to break down. I would just throw in the towel and move on if I didn't have so much time invested and I do believe it will all pay off eventually. Are the sacrifices we make to our passion worth the physical pain, personal loss, and mental trauma? How can I ease some of this burden and still be successful? I am tired of the 16 hour a day 28 day stretches only to have my one day off ruined cause some punk quit. Still I continue. In fact, I am in the middle of a helluva long stretch right now and have to get ready to go in. Thanks for listening, and I hope somebody out there has some insight, cause I am too deep to see.

By Kchef (Kchef) on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 08:58 am: Edit


By Kchef (Kchef) on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 08:59 am: Edit

sorry I guess I should have posted this in a different forum. This is just where I was when it hit.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 11:26 am: Edit

Dude, have a talk with the owners, tell them this is not how it works; forget more pay, you'll be dead, take time off and if the place blows up while you're gone; so be it!!!!!
Live life man, do you have a wife and kids???
Hope not, if you are spending all that time at work man.
Life is short and cruel, enjoy it, look at those people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, start fresh if you need to!!!!

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Monday, September 05, 2005 - 08:14 pm: Edit

Been there, know that situation pretty well. If you have any kind of a HR dept. you could lean on them for some facts and figures to go along with your begging bowl when you meet with the owners.

Important thing is this: If you're still making money inspite of the labour shortage, then the owners are just chuckling away. Sure you could use time off, and maybe the food could be a bit showier, but if there's no major complaints and the kitchen is making money, most owners will want it that way. They'll compliment you on your management, maybe give you a box of Costco Chocolates for Christmas, and that's it. Most owners. Maybe these ones are different. But back up your meeting with them with lots of paper, and make sure to include projections of what you COULD earn for them IF you had more trained labour in 3 mths time.

If this fails, you have two choices: Pare down even more on labour, getting in more pre-prepped food, bribe existing staff with any goodies you're able to provide, or start looking for another place.

Oh, and with the no-shows? I'm a big fan of invoicing them. Staple an invoice to their resume and mail it back to them. Charge them $50.00 for the interview(s), $100.00 for a no show, and $300.00 if they leave a crappy voice message or e-mail at 2:30 am, mumbling something about why they're not coming in for their first day at work. Yeah yeah, childish of me to say so, but it does make me feel a little bit better, stapling that invoice after running around the whole day on 3 stations, and still have to do the extensions of the inventory. Hopefully (if they're not aspiring actors) they'll think twice about pulling a no-show for the next guy. I've been doing it now for two years...

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - 05:56 pm: Edit

Stuart's idea is good.
The thing is your going to burn out if you keep going like this. You see that. The aftermath won't be pretty with your confidence shaken and the hole it will leave in your resume. All those years for naught.

Manny is right also. Time to yourself is important. Not just for yourself but for your crew, the FOH staff and the customers. You should consider taking time away from the kitchen as part of your job. The fact is the owners need you now but if your start cracking up they'll start considering you a liability and recruit someone behind your back.

Like Stuart says cut back on some of the things that are as important to you. It is hard to say what not knowing your menu, venue or numbers. What I'm saying is, some things don't make a difference, as in, making tomato sauce from scratch, fresh tomatoes and the whole bit, or getting it out of a can. Other may disagree with that but I'm sure they can think of other things that make no difference.

But if you like making pastries from scratch by all means keep that going do the things you like. cut back on the stuff you don't care about.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, September 07, 2005 - 08:00 pm: Edit

Tim, enjoyed listening to the "A real Chef would never" story, very good, was that you or your son narating????(not that I know you have a son...or daughter???....just asking because Timothy and Tim were used for writer and narrator.....I was wondering if you were cloning yourself these days???

By George (George) on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 07:57 am: Edit


I found the story on the kitchen heat site but a narration?

Where's that?

BTW loved the story.


By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 09:24 am: Edit

I think it's here:

If not, it's at "On the" somewhere G
It's very good!!!

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Thursday, September 08, 2005 - 01:06 pm: Edit

Tim is my son. He is not a Jr. so a while back we settled on me using Timothy and him using Tim professionally.
Professionally he is an actor.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Friday, September 09, 2005 - 05:56 am: Edit

He did a great job, please let him know!

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