For those interested, there’s basically a timeline of my tenure in my post history.
On September 1st of last year I walked in to a new Japanese Izakaya and sushi restaurant with a modern twists, looking for a job. Lucky me, their prep guy quit the day before so they gave me a shift the very next morning. The place is set in an affluent upper middle class suburb outside of Miami. The chef is an ex Nobu executive sushi chef. Crazy, cool as fuck, and a master of his work. Over the last year, we’ve gotten several opportunities to go off the menu for VIP guests with really great results, and a lot of opportunity for learning. Though the turn over of staff, I went from prep, to line cook, to sushi helper and now I’m learning to make nigiri and sashimi, which are, apparently, okay enough to serve.
Truth be told, the place pushes out a lot rolls with abundant sauce and fried shrimp, kani, etc. but there are several very tasteful dishes to cater to finer tastes. Salmon truffle pear with yuzu, octopus orange miso, shiromi jalapeño with yuzu soy and jalapeño vinaigrette. It’s a step above every other sushi place around, but it’s not the super high end places like Nobu, Zuma, etc.
The old sous chef was a dick, a bad leader, always fucking around with our 19 year old prep cook (ok she was hot) but he was 36 and married. He wouldn’t get much done and stupidly separated the kitchen and sushi bar, which never staff more than 6 people between the two, and made it an us vs them instead of a balanced mutual I help you, you help me. Luckily he found someone to fund his own restaurant.
His departure left chef with one guy with 5 years experience, but a bad attitude and mediocre skills, call him L, and 5 other first timers like me. However, I’d shown I was up to any task, would take feed back and criticism and turn it into results. I was organized, dedicated, and worked intelligently, looking for improvements in efficiency and speed. I don’t know shit about Japanese food but thankfully he sees my hard work and is an open book for all the knowledge I want.
Following the sous’ departure, chef spoke to the owner and suggested I get a hefty raise and a de facto promotion to sous chef. Apparently, the owner’s only objection was that L wouldn’t follow my lead and antagonize me. In such a small kitchen, this would be bad for morale and productivity. Now L is leaving for good on his own account on September 10th. That day I will be sous chef.
I’ll learn, I’ll work, and I’ll do my best to lead when I have to.
I know we are a cynical bunch, and trust me so am I. But I wanted to share my anecdote that shows the positives in this industry.
I was super strung out on IV drugs. I have had an on and off relationship with hard drugs for most of my adult life, but this last run was really bad.
I had recently lost my first line job and didn't take it well. I worked in a few restaurants since as a diswasher to make ends meet but I was miserable. I pretty much had resigned to throw my life away to drugs.
Then, unexpectedly, I was called to interview for a line cook position at a local restaurant. I interviewed for the job on my first day sober, got hired on my second, and started work on my third. I promised myself that I would stay sober this time. I buried myself in the work and slowly was reminded of my passions again.
I still have the job and I'm still sober. I fucking love cooking - it offers self abuse, chaos, and a wild endorphin rush just like drugs- except I get paid to do it and I'm proud of what I do. If I did not find this job I know that I would not be sober now - and with the way I was going, I know I'd be dead or behind bars.
It's important to me to remember that we do this for a reason. I just have one more reason to kill every goddamn service every fuckin day.
I’m not a line cook any longer I’ve worked in a bakery for the last 3 years. But about 4 years ago I was working the line at a fairly busy, pub type restaurant, we had a 2 patios and a fairly big dining room that when all the seats were full could get pretty intense.
So we’re in the midst of a heatwave and the restaurant is packed. Our walk in for the kitchen was also used to house the kegs, all the lines for the taps ran through the ceiling from the bar into the walk in.
It’s an insanely hot summers day, and we’re slammed. One of the servers goes into the fridge to change a keg, and she doesn’t latch it correctly and beer coats the entire walk in walls ceiling and floor. She doesn’t have time to clean it. So I mop up the brew best I can and keep working tickets.
The night starts winding down, and the server who sprayed beer everywhere into comes into the kitchen complaining about the heat, and she intends to go hang out in the walk in while she had a little downtime.
I stop her and say, “if you’re going to hang out in there to cool off you’d better clean up some of that mess you made.” And I hand her a spray bottle and a rag. She looks at me with wide eyes and says “WHAT?!” I repeat myself. And she screams “WHY?! I’m so fucking hot” I say “go for it hang out in there, just wipe down the walls a bit while you’re in there.”
She instantly starts to cry, like she did that thing where can you see the water gather in someone’s eyes, she lets a wail , throws the spray bottle at me bolts from the kitchen.
I was pretty confused by the whole ordeal, and my coworker says. “If she was smart she would’ve just taken the rag and the bottle gone into the fridge and not cleaned.”
I didn’t see her for the rest of the night and we never spoke of it again. The heat does strange things to people.
So a couple weeks ago I quit my job at a country club (I was a food runner). I left mainly for 2 reasons, both of which are drastically different:
First off, I would request days off a month in advance, get confirmation my email was received by my manager, and then when the week's schedule came out, I'd be put on, and of course I'm too nervous to say shit because I don't wanna fuck over the other food runner we have. On top of this, before I quit I asked my boss if she could change my availability from 5 days a week to 4 or I would walk, she didn't even respond, and when I didn't show up for my shifts I didn't even get a call. She knew, she just didn't care. So naturally I left, no call, no show.
Secondly, picture this, its a fucking country club in suburban Philly. We have nothing but old white guys. And they were creepy. On one occasion, my best friend, who I've known since middle school and got a job at this place, told a member that she liked his shorts because they had whales on them. He promptly said
"I bet you'd like what's in them too"...
My co-worker walked away, told our restaurant manager, who said "ok." and continued cleaning a table. In fact, watching my female coworkers, who I could literally call my sisters, get sexually harassed day in and day out by our members and management refusing to do anything just because they pay $1,500 a year pissed me the fuck off. I'd say its 70% of the reason I left.
So here's where I need advice - I loved my job, I loved working in the kitchen especially. I've been debating for a couple weeks now if I should ask the head chef, who I worked right next to expediting very often, for a job reference, and if I should, do I mention why I quit. I want to work as a prep cook when I go back to school in about a month, and I know she'd be an important reference.
Sorry for the long post, I'm just venting but also need help
I have a question I feel could be answered here. I started out at this tavern which turned very upscale since I’ve been here. I didn’t sign on anticipating being that guy but that’s what’s happening essentially. Lately the chef added a 75$ steak(aged 22oz ribeye) which was supposed to come off the sauté guys station since he is really the lead line cook and it’s being done in a pan to sear than we finish in the oven. But now all of a sudden I’ve been making all of these things. I assume it’s because the chef has seen me do my thing and trusts me do it right and I’ve never had an issue. Even had people say we make the best steak in a 2 hour radius. So my question is if I’m that guy pumping out 75$ menu items and really doing 50% or more of the volume in the kitchen during service( I work char broil/grill which is very heavy here) and I’m consistently kicking ass do I deserve more money than the sauté guy? I know he makes at least 2 dollars more an hour than I do.
I am not a kitchen professional, just a lowly home enthusiast. This morning while cleaning out my All-Clad fry pan I began wondering how restaurants keep their stainless steel pans clean. I feel like I'm having to clean my pan out after every use. How do restaurants keep theirs clean throughout dozens or hundreds of uses per night?