That’s Not My Job

I was reading a FB friend’s post about an interview that went south when the young man being interviewed explained to his potential employer that he left his last two positions because he was asked to do something that “wasn’t his job.”  immediately a bunch of random snippets ran through my head.

When you work in a restaurant, pretty much everything is your job at some point or another.

I recently saw an ad on Craigslist for an Executive Chef’s position, got my resume updated and started composing a cover letter with some degree of hope and potential excitement.

Part of my process for healing is to not repeat mistakes I’ve made in the past.

When you see an ad for a sous chef and line cook the next day for the same restaurant looking for an Executive Chef you wonder if that’s somewhere you should send your information.

Many chefs do move around often, but if you read Craigslist enough you’ll find that there are a lot of places that are continuously hiring.  The truth is that there aren’t that many great places to work, especially for a group of people who are often strapped with emotional issues.

And on the third day the same place has an ad for a dishwasher.

There are plenty of people on both sides of the restaurant employment game that have their shit together.  Just not enough of us.

I feel really good about finally working on getting my shit together.

Jennifer and I are going to some dear friend’s home next Sunday for dinner where two dear friends will join us.  I’m really looking forward to getting out of the house aside from going to Hannaford, Healthy Living, or Target.  I’m getting a bit of cabin fever without heading out to work every morning and with Winter on the horizon I fear it will get worse.

Six months ago I dreaded going out of the house, especially to a job I had no interest in doing.  Now I’m looking forward to doing it again.

When you run a restaurant, every job is your job.

I’ve worked for a lot of people who wouldn’t be caught dead in the dish pit.  They’re either out of business or constantly struggling.

I’ve never held a job as a dishwasher.

Some places are successful due to their location, some are successful despite their location.

I’ve done a lot of dishes in a lot of kitchens.

What makes a good chef’s job?

Autonomy.  If you’re going to hire a chef and pay them a good salary then let your chef do the job you’ve hired him/her to do provided they’re keeping costs in check and are producing good product.

Credit.  I once worked for a chef/owner that took credit for my work.  I once worked for an owner who claimed to be a chef, and would claim responsibility for the menu and the quality of food

Fair pay for hours worked. I’ll work hard, and I’ll put in the hours, but you’ve gotta pay me.

Financial support.  Ya gotta be able to pay your bills.  I want to order the food I need without being concerned about vendors looking for COD payments and you’re nowhere to be seen. Don’t bounce paychecks.

Ability to understand and contribute to the business in a positive way.  If you have no desire to contribute with a day’s work, or to work hard during service then stay out-of-the-way, especially if your behavior has a negative effect on the business.

Education.  As a leader (owner) you should be educated, and continue to educate yourself.  As a leader you need to make sure your staff is educated, and that they’re working on educating themselves.  Also, allow time for education for both the FOH and the BOH.

Some owners spend a lot of time sitting at the bar, some do not.

The ability to recognize what is likely an unhappy work situation is something that I’m finally developing.

I’ll miss wine at Thanksgiving dinner.

What’s so difficult about saying “excuse me” or “pardon me” at the grocery store?

Chefs can get too creative before they learn good technique.  Learn to caramelize onions properly before you attempt a rift on French onion soup with Gruyère foam and beef gelee.

I’m going to work on getting off of caffeine next.

Just kidding.

I’ll miss Bourbon in preparing for Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m doing a Moroccan inspired Christmas dinner this year.

I don’t need the alcohol to help cook the dinner, it’s to help prepare me for having family here for dinner.

I’m not a fan of lunch.  I don’t like making it, I don’t like eating it, and I certainly don’t like working it.  Lunch comes at a very inconvenient time of the day for me since I’m typically busy prepping for dinner.

Excellent post on Daniel Berman’s Fussy Little Blog recently.  I reminds me of a place I was chef for a while.  We had great food and a decent wine list, but for some reason ownership insisted that all beer should be the same price, $5 per bottle at the time. Sam Adams was the high-end beer.  A little effort would have gone a long way. One sous chef who was well-schooled in the craft beer scene even offered to revamp and oversee the beer list.  In many restaurants, one aspect falls short whether it’s part of the beverage program, the desserts, or the service. If you as the owner or manager cannot cover one of the bases find someone who can. It will help your bottom line.  I find that a passion for the business is a key to success, not just a passion for one piece of the business.

When your friends tell you you’re a great cook and you should open a restaurant chances are that putting on nice dinner parties does not qualify you for the business unless you have a lot of money and are willing to spend it.

I misuse commas all the time.  When I pause to think I generally put a comma in. My writing follows my thought cadence. Look at it this way, I’m displaying my thoughts in alphabetic symbols, not writing.



2 thoughts on “That’s Not My Job

  1. Your blog should be required reading for anyone thinking of becoming a chef or anyone thinking of opening up a restaurant. It should also be read by chefs already employed as chefs and people who own and/or operate a restaurant. This is free experiential grist. My friend Alfonso at also provides a wealth of experiential advice for people in the wine business plus he writes well and photographs like a pro.


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