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ChristysConfections

Chocolatier's Hourly Wage

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I have an opportunity to work as the head chocolatier for a local chocolate business. I will be going in to discuss with the owner tomorrow. I am notorious for undervaluing myself and my skills, but I want to change that. I have worked in the industry for 10 years and worked in one of the larger artisan local chocolate companies for 5 years. Does anyone know what the going hourly rate it for this type of position? I would be developing new recipes and running all production operations myself. It's only a part time gig (at the moment, as they have very small production). I will continue with my own business on the side for now - the owner knows this and is completely comfortable with it. I would possibly even be able to be the successor to this business once the owner retires. 

 

Also, anyone have input on working as an employee while developing recipes for another business? I feel so protective of my recipes that I will be sad to see some become the property of another business. I guess it is just all part of the nature of this line of work. I could be a sub-contractor and just provide this company with product, but they would prefer that I work and consult with them in-house and utilize their facilities.  


- Christy -

Christy's Confections

"My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away in peace." - The Deserts Fathers

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Location?  Looks like you are near Vancouver BC?  Have they made you any offers?   Hourly pastry cooks in restaurants here (Seattle) might get up to $18/hr MAX with solid experience, but chocolate is a more specialized skill and you're doing product development so maybe $20-25.  What do various pastry jobs pay where you are?

 

Restaurants in BC always seem a little more expensive than comparable places here, so hopefully they are paying staff better.  And I suppose health insurance isn't a bargaining chip in Canada - here our salaries might be lower if the company is paying an extra several $K for benefits.

 

If you don't want to give them your recipes then sub-contracting seems better.  More efficient for your production if you're just making extra of your own products to sell to them.  But if they are already established with some of their own recipes, that could be tricky.

 


Edited by pastrygirl MAX (log)

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Thanks, @pastrygirl!

 

The shop is in Vancouver, BC - pretty much right downtown. I will look up pastry jobs in my area. Assistant chocolatier is $15-ish, so definitely more for the head position. I was honestly thinking $20-$25 ish. 

 

Extended medical benefits would be nice, but my family is covered by my hubby's plan for now. 

 

They would want a product made with different ingredients than I would use for my personal brand, so either way I would be making two different products. Unless I can convinced them otherwise. I think they want to scrap their current recipes and start fresh. I shouldn't be so precious about sharing recipes - I just want to be sure that I always have the freedom to make whatever I want for my own brand without conflict.

 


- Christy -

Christy's Confections

"My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away in peace." - The Deserts Fathers

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4 hours ago, ChristysConfections said:

I just want to be sure that I always have the freedom to make whatever I want for my own brand without conflict.

 


You've already negotiated the idea that you'll still be working as a competitor with your own business while working for them and they're onboard with that. If you've managed to get that as a stipulation, doesn't seem like much of a stretch to explain to them that while you will be using your recipes for your own business as well as theirs, you use different ingredients for your personal brand and would likely, at least at this stage, be targeting a different market. That's with the assumption that you're currently working as a home business and not a directly competing local shop.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Thank-you, @Tri2Cook!

 

You're right - it's not much of a stretch at all to explain how our chocolates are different and possibly targeting a different market. I just suck at business talk, haha. But it is something I am happy to learn. I am just moving from a home business to a commercial space (only production, no retail space of my own) but I'm basically starting fresh. I worked for other chocolatiers before and my own business was more of a hobby than anything else. I am trying to get my product out there in retail shops now (not the greatest to split the tiny profit margin with others, but at least it is exposure). 

 

Honestly, I love the owner of the shop that wants to hire me. They are a lovely place and because I would possibly even take it over when the owner retires, I would LOVE to just pour my heart and soul into their chocolates entirely. However, at this point, our visions for the product are a little different. Not bad different, but just different. So unless we could harmonize those visions, I still feel compelled to carve my own path as well.


Edited by ChristysConfections (log)
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- Christy -

Christy's Confections

"My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away in peace." - The Deserts Fathers

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10 hours ago, ChristysConfections said:

hey would want a product made with different ingredients than I would use for my personal brand,

 

Is that a nice way of saying they use crap chocolate? :laugh:  If they're not using premium ingredients, they might not want to pay for premium labor, but who knows.  If you do take the job, we will enjoy hearing about the experience. 

 

Even though I've long been frustrated by how low the pay is for pastry work (don't specialists cost extra in every other industry?) i have much more sympathy now that I have my own business.  It's profitable, but I'm still a long way from being able afford employees who want actual monetary pay instead of just chocolate! 

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10 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

Is that a nice way of saying they use crap chocolate? :laugh:  If they're not using premium ingredients, they might not want to pay for premium labor, but who knows. 

 

Bahahaha! That is what it sounds like. The chocolate they want to use is not bad. I personally want to try using local bean-to-bar chocolate which increases my costs significantly. They are actually open to it though, but more likely as a separate line from their regular product. I'm not sure what I think about having two separate lines of chocolates under the same roof. We'll chat about it more. I think my goal would be to merge our brands down the road if I plan to take over the business when they retire. 

 

Maybe it's not polite to talk about it, but it is the topic of this forum so I guess I'll be transparent - we decided on $20/hr for the slow summer months with the expectation of a raise as the sales increase and the busier season comes. I think it's reasonable.

 

The low pay for pastry work sounds frustrating. But you're right, it's easy to see how the cost add up. I think collectively pastry chefs, chocolatiers, artisans need to charge more for their products to actually have reasonable profit margins. It just doesn't really help put you at an competitive advantage. We kinda need everyone to be on board and do it.

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- Christy -

Christy's Confections

"My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away in peace." - The Deserts Fathers

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Posted (edited)

I am wondering if I can reopen this thread.

I have closed down my business about 3 years ago (more or less), after taking a job as a cafe manager at a museum. We needed a steady income and I needed to either grown my business and invest money, or go back to infancy, which is what I did, sadly.

Anyway, my job allowed me some freedom and I am pretty comfortable, and I even get to bake something fun from time to time (this is a public museum, expectations are pretty low and so are the amount of money that flows in).

I have just recently been contacted by the HR of a local company, they do baked goods and fund raises. They have a chocolate line, that is quite outdated and more like old fashion American candy, and it looks like the owner wants to revamp it, to a more modern Artisan line. 

I have met with them twice, the atmosphere was pleasant, but I have to say, they have a consultant, which is a French pastry chef well renown around and is an instructor to the local culinary institute, and his energy was pretty contagious.

Sorry, long story short, I am very excited about the idea to finally be working with chocolate again and to the opportunity of learning again, but I am uncertain about the company (I got a great vibe from the chef, but that always happen when I am around creative professionals, that always have a million of tips to give).

They said I would make more than I currently do, but its only because I would be working more hours during the busy months (55-65 weekly). The hourly pay is the same, and I think their schedule is not nearly as flexible as my current one.

Ok I forgot to mention, that what makes me uneasy about accepting this position (sounds nuts, I have been looking for something like this for the past 4 years now!!), is that the the owner insisted regarding sales and client retention. Now I don't mind some customer interaction here and there, and there are the trade shows, but I am afraid I will be doing more of the sales than I am comfortable with. That is not an area where I feel comfortable or enjoy. They mentioned potential new sales bonuses, which could be good, but not sure what to expect I guess. 

And one last thing, I have talked to a friend, which happens to know the company and has a friend that worked for them as a sale rep for many years, and she had nothing good to say about them, how they treated her and some other unpleasant things. That combined with my gut feeling, made me almost turn down the offer right away.

I will be meeting the HR lady today (which has been nothing but pleasant to me, as everyone else in the company, to be fair), to visit their chocolate kitchen, which I will be supervising and creating new recipes etc., so I am hoping to get more information on the daily work flow etc, get vibes from the people that are working currently in the kitchen and so on.

The problem is that I don't have a clear picture of what I will be doing and that makes me nervous.

I should mention that I am no spring chicken and getting older has made me less flexible of uncomfortable situations (not to mention, potentially losing a job that has allowed me freedom of time and schedule, even though has dulled my creativity and my drive, and its hot in the kitchen!!😵)

One thing is for sure, after reading this thread, I need to negotiate a better pay, thing that I hate doing, and apparently it is a struggle that 60% of women have in common  😞

 

I will report back after the visit. Any suggestion, tip, comment, advise 2 cents, are very welcome and encouraged :-)

Thank you!


Edited by Desiderio (log)

Vanessa

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Have you staged with them?  Something to focus on when staging is how they treat people around them besides focusing on the operations.  If I leave a stage without much thought to their operations, then I know they most likely make sense or I see areas of concern, etc.  But watching how they interact with their staff and customers is just as important.  I try to stay silent and keep my ears open to what is happening around me without them really paying me much attention.  If they forget I am there, they might slip into their normal routine and drop the "best behavior".  I know pretty quickly if they are people I will mesh well with or not by that point.

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Hmm.  Well of course they're going to be nice when recruiting, nobody says, 'come work with us, we're assholes, you'll hate it' ...  just like interviewees never tell you they're flaky and can't actually follow directions 😆

 

Sounds like you need to clarify the position.  How much production vs how much sales, and if the sales is mostly keeping existing customers satisfied or cold-calling new ones. 

 

How well do you know this friend of friend?  Can you ask her for more specifics?  Do you trust her character and are sure it was the company and not her?  What were her reasons for staying so many years and are the people who provided the negative experiences still there?

 

But it sounds like you really enjoy that flexible schedule, and as a not-so-spring chicken, do you really want to work 65 hour weeks?  Or do you still have some years of that left in you and it would help you save for retirement ...

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Best way to know how things work inside a kitchen / pastry shop / restaurant is talking with the dishwasher, they always speak the truth.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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6 minutes ago, teonzo said:

Best way to know how things work inside a kitchen / pastry shop / restaurant is talking with the dishwasher, they always speak the truth.

 

 

 

Teo

 

I don't know.  I have never met a gruntled dishwasher haha

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Very good points! Thank you for taking the time to chime in! I really appreciate that. I will keep my mind and ears open, hopefully she will be able to clarify few points.

But Pastrygirl is on to me, that comfy seat (well stand I guess) its looking every day more appealing, as my energy level is not as once was, maybe its a job for the new generation of chocolatiers :-)

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Vanessa

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It just seems like it’s only more $$ if you work a ton of overtime and/or get sales bonuses. I’m an introvert so I know it’d be a challenge for me to push the sales side, ymmv. But I’m also facing the fact that a long comfortable retirement requires a million dollars more than I have, so I understand the allure. I’m 47, not so much a ‘girl’, I should change my screen name but ‘pastryspinster’ doesn’t have the same ring 😂 

 

Are there any more outlets at the museum that would satisfy your creativity or need for growth?  Start a program of bonbons painted in the style of that months featured artist? 

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4 hours ago, Merry Berry said:

I don't know.  I have never met a gruntled dishwasher haha

 

True that! But the goal is to know how the owner treats the other chefs / cooks, not how the dishwasher is treated. If you ask directly to one of the chefs / cooks then the risk of getting a misleading answer is pretty high (most people feel under-appreciated, there are internal wars, so on). Besides that talking immediately to the dishwasher means showing him/her respect, which is crucial if you go to work there, the best strategy is becoming friend with the dishwasher as soon as possible.

 

 

Besides this, I would be a bit skeptical on various things about this offer. @Desiderio, you say you want to get back facing challenges, experimenting and learning, those are great things. Are you sure you will be satisfied if you accept that offer? If they are using a top French chef as consultant, then it means they are paying him good money for that (much more than you). If you accept the offer and you propose a new idea, what's more likely to happen? The owner will accept it, or will it be scrutinized by the French chef? Most probably the second, I would say. Ok, you can learn a lot from this consultant, but you will have your hands tied, leading to personal unsatisfaction. Being satisfied is a value, being unsatisfied is a cost, both things can be equated to money.

Owners say lots of good things when offering a job: "you'll get this, you'll get that", just because they need a new worker. Always be skeptical about every good word/promise is said to you. If people kept their words then I would be the Sultan of Brunei.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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19 minutes ago, teonzo said:

 

True that! But the goal is to know how the owner treats the other chefs / cooks, not how the dishwasher is treated. If you ask directly to one of the chefs / cooks then the risk of getting a misleading answer is pretty high (most people feel under-appreciated, there are internal wars, so on). Besides that talking immediately to the dishwasher means showing him/her respect, which is crucial if you go to work there, the best strategy is becoming friend with the dishwasher as soon as possible.

 

 

Besides this, I would be a bit skeptical on various things about this offer. @Desiderio, you say you want to get back facing challenges, experimenting and learning, those are great things. Are you sure you will be satisfied if you accept that offer? If they are using a top French chef as consultant, then it means they are paying him good money for that (much more than you). If you accept the offer and you propose a new idea, what's more likely to happen? The owner will accept it, or will it be scrutinized by the French chef? Most probably the second, I would say. Ok, you can learn a lot from this consultant, but you will have your hands tied, leading to personal unsatisfaction. Being satisfied is a value, being unsatisfied is a cost, both things can be equated to money.

Owners say lots of good things when offering a job: "you'll get this, you'll get that", just because they need a new worker. Always be skeptical about every good word/promise is said to you. If people kept their words then I would be the Sultan of Brunei.

 

 

 

Teo

 

Very good point Teo!! I might face the opposite thing in this case. The chef is the one pushing for a new line, and has been telling the owner he needs to update it. The problem is, the owner might be resistant to changes, even though he says he is passionate about chocolate, but doesn't know enough about. I don't want to get stuck in a factory line, trying to sell a product I don't like.

So I went to the kitchen, and one of the lady that runs the kitchen gave me a tour. Their kitchen is in another location, so far away from the main office and bakery, which is a plus.

What they do is, dipped pretzels (:-/), chocolate bars with different flavors and this line of truffles, that is made to have a long shelf life, 6 months! She showed me their recipes, it uses fudge base, corn syrup, chocolate, and in the cases of meltaways, coconut oil. They use flavorings, like the Lorann ones.

She has a list of numbers for each month, and she is working on finishing August, so can start on September. I tried to ask her about the guys that was in charge before, which left the company right before or while I was contacted. Nothing came out, and when the owner mentioned that he left, he said that he was good, but wasn't engaging enough (or something like that), referring to getting more clients, which was a red flag. 

I should mention that their products are in large grocery stores, aside corporate, gift baskets etc. So a big change, would impact all of this accounts, I mean we were talking re formulating all of the truffles and make the caramel, which is not made in house right now. Shelf life would be an issue, and large in advance production, might not be feasible.
 

Pastrygirl, always girl at heart! I am there as well, just turned 48. Right there with you on retirement. I think my current job, happens to be more stable, even though you never know! But I am not mircomanaged, quite the opposite, because no one on the "4th" floor wants to have anything to do with managing the cafe (its kinda of a hot potato, or it was in the past, I can say that I have created a better environment, to work in, and my team works well together).

 

Anyway, this are all questions that I have to gather around for them.

Money, vacations (I am still fuzzy on that, because they have one week of paid vacation and two weeks that the company closes, but I don't think they are paid), more specifics on the job and that sales part, like Pastrygirl, I am an introverted, highly functional, but still, sales are not my things.

 

Meanwhile, I am very grateful to everyone here, you all are such an incredible and supporting group, Thank you!

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Vanessa

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

nobody says, 'come work with us, we're assholes, you'll hate it' …


Can I borrow that? If I ever take the step to having an actual business, that will be exactly my recruiting slogan. I don't think I'm actually an asshole, at least, I hope I'm not, but I figure anybody that shows up for an interview despite that slogan will probably get along with my sense of humor just fine. It can be a bit irreverent at times... :D


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)
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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Most probably I will sound cynical and harsh, but I prefer to be direct.

To me it sounds like to usual case where the owner is all talk. No small signs of him/her being open to changes. All things you reported are the usual stuff that happens when someone producing big numbers ("big" as relative to artisan production) had a quarrel with the chef and needs a replacement as soon as possible. The owner starts promising every good things possible to lead the prospect to accept his offer, in reality he/she is just searching for an experienced and reliable workhorse who is capable to be in charge of the production. So you would end up just repeating what they are doing at this moment, which seems really far from your aims.

Some words on consultants. Most of them are there only for the money, really can't blame them. A good consultant knows how to deal with the various kinds of owners. Lots of them pay for consulting jobs only to satisfy their ego: they call someone hoping to be said "you are doing it great, go on". A smart consultant is able to spot this kind of people immediately and accepts the job just for the easy money. Personally I can't count the times I saw these dynamics. If people really cared about listening to top consultants then now the vast majority of pastry shops would be top class quality, which is far from reality.

 

Most importantly, follow what @Kerry Beal wrote: ask the owner to write on paper every small detail of the offer.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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Right on Teo. I have came to a similar conclusion myself, after seeing their production. They are in need of someone that will take that over, the tedious part, ordering, filling paperwork, probably delivery and somehow find more clients. And I don't see how a dramatic change (formulations, lower shelf life etc.), would work in their situation.

On consultant, you make a very good point. I have asked myself this question often, as our museum (non profit) seems to love using them, not always with the best of results. But I am thinking, I want to be a consultant in my next life!

 

Pastrygirl, I forgot to answer your question about finding more creative outlets within the museum. I think its possible. We do have a gift shop, while we are not by any means a big city museum, the gift shop get some traffic, and maybe I could create a museum line of chocolates, with local beers (Grand Rapids is crawling with new breweries every month!), local flavors, like seasonal, berries, pumpkin, apples and everything that makes Michigan the Mitten 😄

 

See, that's what I am talking about! I used to have more creative ideas, but I have lost that spark, my bad, I feel it tickle now :-P Thank you for that!!!

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Vanessa

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17 hours ago, Tri2Cook said:


Can I borrow that? If I ever take the step to having an actual business, that will be exactly my recruiting slogan. I don't think I'm actually an asshole, at least, I hope I'm not, but I figure anybody that shows up for an interview despite that slogan will probably get along with my sense of humor just fine. It can be a bit irreverent at times... :D

 

Besides, with this slogan you will get people that are really dedicated.

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1 hour ago, Desiderio said:

Pastrygirl, I forgot to answer your question about finding more creative outlets within the museum. I think its possible. We do have a gift shop, while we are not by any means a big city museum, the gift shop get some traffic, and maybe I could create a museum line of chocolates, with local beers (Grand Rapids is crawling with new breweries every month!), local flavors, like seasonal, berries, pumpkin, apples and everything that makes Michigan the Mitten 😄

 

Perfect!  Can you resurrect your old business in any way and sell for the holidays?  If the museum likes you and wants to keep you, maybe they'd let you use the kitchen after hours.  Tell them you love the flexibility but are itching for more creativity.  I had a sweet deal with a restaurant/event space trading kitchen use for desserts, if you could work something similar out so you don't have a lot of fixed expenses, you could put in the OT for yourself and make that extra $$$ at Christmas.  Low overhead is my secret to survival ;)

 

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So I figured I'll fill you in with the latest news from my new adventures, since you were all so kind to pitch in and give me some sound advice!!

The company sent me the offer, after much pondering I decided to turn it down. My thing is that I am not a great negotiator and if something doesn't work I just cut it out 😂. So they were like "wait, wait we can do better!" and told me that everything is negotiable (imagine that! :-P). So I have wrote them an email where I clarified my points.

The president of the company wrote me back with a very nice email, where he explained better what they were looking for this position. My bad too, because I didn't give them a chance to explain it before, I just said no, but thanks. Anyway, we got back on the negotiating table, and settle for me starting part time, higher rate and we'll see how it works.

I am excited about the potential, especially, if like he is saying, they want to modernize their product and introduce a more artisan line of "real chocolates'

Yesterday was my first day, not much happening, the ladies that work there have been doing it for a long time. Pretzel dipping is the majority of their daily work. They have two enrobing machines with cooling tunnels, and are used almost exclusively for pretzels. Their chocolate line is secondary, they have few accounts, but the chocolates, are not chocolate in the sense of what we mean by chocolates, truffles and bon bons. They are made with a fudge base, corn syrup, butter, chocolate and then they flavor the batches. I wouldn't even know what to do with that, meaning, no I don't want to do that.

The president said he is moving this operation out of the chocolate kitchen, to combine it with their other production where they make caramel corn etc. (different location)

He even said, I don't have to worry about the pretzel (the ladies must have told him that I was surprise to see so many frigging pretzels, when I went for a tour 😆).

Anyway, I got the chance to talk and go through some stuff with the chef that they use as a consultant, he is a really cool guy, full of knowledge and since he is also a teacher, eager to pass it along! He told me that it was a smart move to try this out first, he also is not 100% sure that the company is ready for a real change, even though they say they are.

I guess I'll see how it goes, for now, I'll try my best to think outside of the box, which I have been stuck in for a while :-P

Thanks everybody, again for all of the help, I am planning on posting updates, and probably ask for some more moral support and expertise advice 😄

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Vanessa

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Thanks for the update!  I’ll be interested to hear your experience with a high volume operation. 

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10 hours ago, Desiderio said:

So I figured I'll fill you in with the latest news from my new adventures, since you were all so kind to pitch in and give me some sound advice!!

 

Anyway, I got the chance to talk and go through some stuff with the chef that they use as a consultant, he is a really cool guy, full of knowledge and since he is also a teacher, eager to pass it along! He told me that it was a smart move to try this out first, he also is not 100% sure that the company is ready for a real change, even though they say they are.

I guess I'll see how it goes, for now, 😄

 

 

In your  mind, do you  have a date by which you say to yourself "if this hasn't happened, then I need to gracefully quit?"  ... see what measurable objectives are reasonable to achieve within X time and then you will know if they are truly serious about changing.  I'm not saying it has to be a big change, but you need to see some forward momentum to know this is going to work, long-term.  Don't be the frog in the full pot of water slowly coming to the boil.

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