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Frustrations on the job


Wendy DeBord
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I know I can't be the only person that faces this. And a good stiff drink isn't a possibility until after you go home. Specifically I get frustrated from time to time with the lack of understanding between the pc position and the hot side. I do my best to communicate verbally, but sometimes the differences seem so great you can't communicate unless you start at square one on the how and whys of baking. In the fast paced kitchen that's just not always possible, so frustration sets in.

When everything in your whole day becomes a struggle and you can't take a breather (or even if you do that doesn't solve your issues or calm you down) what do you do?

You can't smoke, you can't drink, you can't solve the issues, you can't work with the issues, you can't get help, you can't take another path, you suck it up over and over all day long keeping your nose to the grind stone...........Do you ever "loose it" on the job?

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All occupations are different, but I find that if I concentrate on doing what I can do and accept that I can't change what people of equal or higher rank than I are doing or telling me to do, I feel better. It's sometimes really helpful to say "Yes, yes, yes" to unreasonable or annoying stuff that you can't fight if you want to keep the job, and then go ahead doing your own thing to the extent you can get away with that in good shape.

Ignore any part of this reply that's inapplicable to your situation.

And hang in there. I can't take a stiff drink when I'm teaching, either. :shock:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Well, being in a big, dedicated pastry kitchen all day I'm pretty insulated from contact with the hot side at all (except when we have to go raid their cooler for fruit :wink: ). However, my suggestion would be to write down the issues that come up during the work day, take the list home and think (in a calm, relaxed atmosphere) about what it would take to fix the problems or at least make your life easier. Then set up a time when you can meet with the executive chef (again in a calm, relaxed atmosphere) to discuss possible options for improving work processes and the environment. Maybe away from the stress and demands of working during a shift they might be able to listen to what you have to say and understand that you just want to help the business and work better with everyone.

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I'm talking about when your so frustrated your brain is in an all out rage! I'm not talking about logic, I'm talking about total insanity. Sometimes you can't talk about issues that are important to your job without seeming like a nut.

Ever tell a chef that the carton of egg whites he bought won't whip no matter how long you try?

Ever want to explain to your boss that one more project dumped in your lap during the busiest day of the year isn't your idea of something exciting and you'd rather not have them jumping for glee in your space about it?

Ever try to explain to a cook why a 90 plus degree kitchen is slowing down your work?

Why it makes a difference if you have a full oven and they turn the heat up to 500f, just for a moment or two?

Ever try to explain to a coworker why they can't eat that item, and not have them get pissed off at you?

Ever tell a chef that the whipping cream doesn't have enough butter fat to whip and you can't do your job without it?

Ever prep for a party and kill yourself making the dessert only to be told after the fact, "oh, didn't I tell you the count went down by half?"?

Oh...........come on guys, surely I'm not the only one who encounters insanity daily. Your just dying to explain the whys, but you know darn well that it won't make any difference?

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Like Pan, I have found that the best way to deal with outrageous requests is to nod you head, say OK, and then go about your business as normal. If what they want is really vital, they will remind you again later, if not, it probably wasn't that important.

My most annoying challenge was probably when I was told (45 minutes in advance, no more) that the Air Force Thunderbirds (a precision flying team) were coming to do a presentation, and that they needed a full AV projector/speaker system set up for their speach, oh, and the auditorium system we had was down because it had burnt out the previous week. I managed that like I manage most crisis situations: just prioritize, my class suddenly got a movie day, a makeshift system was put in place, and I cursed like a sailor under my breath the whole time. Still we survived, and it seems you are doing the same. Any work environment can be stressfull, sometimes the best you can do is just to deal with what resources you have, curse a lot, and hack something together.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Yep, Wendy, I've been there, and I'm still there.

I work along with "hot side" people too. And although they are pretty darn considerate and great professionals in their own right, they make me nuts.

I've had them turn the oven to 500 without checking to see if I had something in there first.

I've had them put meat with fish sauce on an oven shelf above my cheesecakes (mmmmm! fish sauce cheesecake!!)

They take my personal tools (which of course are in MUCH better condition than theirs), and use them, and they never put them back. So when I need them, I can't find them, and that just MAKES ME CRAZY!

Their dishes pile up in the sink so bad I have no choice but to run them through before I can get to my own. I become their dishwasher.....rrrrrrrrrrr!

They use my tamis as a serving dish. I don't know how many times I've gone to look for it, and then find it in the deli case with little bags of salad in it. They think it looks pretty (it's wooden).

I told them "please don't use my pastry tools as serving dishes". I have to remind them of this about once a week. At least I know where to find it......in the deli case......sigh.

If my work table has as any empty space available, they immediately put it to good use. Whenever I clear it off and bleach it down to roll out cinnamon roll dough, there is immediately

bowls and raw meat sitting there. It's like magic! :wacko:

Then one day, you're tired of being their dishwasher and you just want to use your tamis without having to take salad out of it first, so you have a little tantrum, and they think you've gone crazy.

Yep. I can relate.

What do you do? I sure wish I knew. The "sitting down in a relaxed environment" thing to hammer it all out does work......for about a week. Then it's back to the same old. It's like they forget.

It makes me crazy......crazy I say!

I'm sure a lot of "hot siders" think we PC's are a bunch of anal-retentive sniveling little perfectionists. Well, yeah we are, but, we wouldn't do so much sniveling if you could just

respect us a little more!

Wendy, do what I do......it's similar to imagining people in their underwear when you're in a public speaking situation. Have you ever had a "hot sider" try to do a pastry task and screw it up royally? Have you ever taken pleasure in their pain? I have and enjoyed every minute of it, especially when they come groveling to me to help them. Bwa-ha-ha! I try to remember those times, and know they will happen again and I milk it for all it's worth. As Ken says in the end of "A Fish Called Wanda", "Revenge! Revenge!" :raz::raz:

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I had a bad night a few weeks ago.

A few days later I looked down at a little burn I had on my hand. I decided that if that can heal in a week, I can put a bad night behind me in a week.

Your problems seem to be adding up day after day. That is tough because little stuff can set you off.

The hot side is rock and roll. You can always fix something in the middle or end of preparation. You can always fine tune a sauce.

Pastry is different. You have to understand the ingredients and manipulate them correctly from the begining. It is pretty hard to fix a loaf of bread two hours into the process.

It sounds like what you are dealing with is just ignorance. If the hot side guys could work a shift once in a while as the towel boy for the PC they would have more respect for what your job entails. I was the back up baker in a small place. I had a lot more respect for the baker after the first few times he went on vacation. I could also watch his back when he had stuff in the oven or when he got in the weeds.

It may be helpfull for you to write down some issues. However, I would not sit down with the chef with a list of issues such as the egg whites and wipping cream examples. You will come across as petty. Vent here with those issues....then let them go.

I have a manager that is dangerous with knives. She walks around the kitchen swinging them around. A few days ago I had to tell her three times to please pay attention. She was going around corners holding them out streched. Pointing over her shoulder with them. Trying to pull buss tubs off the cooler with a chefs knife in her hand. Finally she picked up my chefs knife and cut her sandwich on a stainless steel table and then tossed the knife down on the table. I lost it.

We had a discussion the next day. Not and hour later, she has a chefs knife stuffed in a kitchenaid. Sometimes talking does nothing.

Sometimes guerilla (sp) tactics are helpfull. They can help a cook understand that you can make his life easier. IF not they can make you feel better, or keep your mind from obsessing about the things that piss you off.

Example: I was using a space one morning for baking. It is not a dedicated bakers bench, but the stand mixer is there and it is out of the way of everyone else. I had flour out and it was obvious that this was my space for the time being. A prep person came over and put a bowl of something down. I ask her to please not use my space. I come back and there is a tub of raw chicken. I tell her not to use my space. An hour later I come back and there is a tub of alfredo.

Lets just say that I did not have to say anything this time. She was at my mercy if she ever wanted to see fredo again.

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I'm talking about when your so frustrated your brain is in an all out rage! I'm not talking about logic, I'm talking about total insanity. Sometimes you can't talk about issues that are important to your job without seeming like a nut.

Ever tell a chef that the carton of egg whites he bought won't whip no matter how long you try?

Ever want to explain to your boss that one more project dumped in your lap during the busiest day of the year isn't your idea of something exciting and you'd rather not have them jumping for glee in your space about it?

Ever try to explain to a cook why a 90 plus degree kitchen is slowing down your work?

Why it makes a difference if you have a full oven and they turn the heat up to 500f, just for a moment or two?

Ever try to explain to a coworker why they can't eat that item, and not have them get pissed off at you?

Ever tell a chef that the whipping cream doesn't have enough butter fat to whip and you can't do your job without it?

Ever prep for a party and kill yourself making the dessert only to be told after the fact, "oh, didn't I tell you the count went down by half?"?

Oh...........come on guys, surely I'm not the only one who encounters insanity daily. Your just dying to explain the whys, but you know darn well that it won't make any difference?

ABSOLUTELY!!! Every single one of those things has happened to me, and way more times each, than I would care to remember!

When I read your first post I thought to myself... "Oh God, poor Wendy. :sad: She's really having a bad time, and I know just what's she's talking about. :wacko: And... the holidays are ONLY JUST BEGINNING!!!! Yikes!!!! :shock:

Yes, indeedy. I know all about that crapola. How do you cope? Sometimes, when it is indeed the end of your rope, you DO have to just stop right there, drag whomever over (the prep guy who doesn't speak much English, along with someone who can translate... the moron hot side line cook who thinks he is hot shit...even the Exec when the cream is not ultra-pasted and won't whip). You say exactly what the problem is. You say it in a drop-dead-sucker-or-I-am-going to fry-your-balls tone of voice. You tell them they CAN"T JUST GO CRANKING UP YOUR OVEN TO 500 when your cheesecakes are in there. You tell them THEY are gonna have to go tell the Governor why we're short x# cookies because the cooks just snuck 2. You demand on-the spot of everyone --who just shoved a hot sheet pan in YOUR speedrack right over your chocolate cakes, ruining 2 days work? You tell him to get on the phone and get you better cream RIGHT NOW or you're send someone out to the grocery store and pay retail.

I know it sounds too easy, but it works for me. I RARELY complain. I put up with crap each and every day from the morons I work with. It truly is ignorance on their part, I know.But when I do reach the breaking point, and HAVE to communicate the problem...and I am firm, really firm (see the above-referenced tone of voice!), they know I MEAN BUSINESS. I work with all men. I am the only woman. I put up with an awful lot, in every sense of the phrase. But when they screw up and it affects you/your work -- then you just gotta call them on it. The very first time I did it --(I pulled the Exec in my "office" and told him I would no longer be responsible for how the hot side was screwing me up, I was no longer going to fix their mistakes, etc.) I thought for sure my job would be on the line. But all of a sudden, I had a new found respect. I have had to let loose only a handful of times, but they know what level I have reached when I do, and they immediately back off, reel in, and fix whatever they have dumped on me/screwed up. I now just sometimes barely shoot someone a look, or say something like "remember the last time you guys pulled that? DON'T even go there..." Sometimes, they scurry around trying to remedy the situation. It's almost funny sometimes...that alone -- the humor in watching their reaction-- is incredibly stress-relieving sometimes!

Take a breath, try to let it roll off your back one more time... but if it's the last straw, then go ahead, do something about it. Say what's on your mind. That's my advice. It may not be everyone's, but it works for me. For me, the upshot is now there are less and less screw-ups, and people definitely still adore me, but also have a healthy respect for me and what I am trying to do.

sorry this is so long-winded. I just am trying to say, because you can't start doing shots on the spot, you can't walk out, you are already in fast-forward as it is... AND you cannot wait until tomorrow when you have time, or are calm. you have no other choice but to address it right then and there. But you must do it in a serious and non-screaming way. Don't lose your temper. Just state the facts, pure and simple. If they are too stupid to understand, nor have the time for you to explain the whys, oh well! You can't think for them, that's their problem.

HTH, and keep up what great work you are doing. You know your talents, and your physical (time, space,ingredients, etc) limitations. Do your best, with what you have. That's all anyone can ask of you.

Edited by simdelish (log)

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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Things that go to dish and never come back? Check.

Oven temperatures changed mid-bake because an entree got thrown in alongside? Check.

Herb-and-garlic flavours infusing themselves from the roast into my cookies and muffins? Check.

My tamis used as display dishes? Well...no. Mine are stainless, maybe that's why.

My workload increasing 30-40% for Christmas, with my available time and staffing (already maxed) remaining the same? Oh, yeah.

My manager recently took me aside to brief me on what needed to happen over the Christmas season. For one thing, I had all my extra seasonal items that needed to get done. For another, I needed to have a schedule of when my cashiers take breaks, so that the tills could be covered at all times. There are two of us (myself, and my day person) available to do all of the extra product. There are two of us (myself, and my day person) available to cover tills during my cashiers' 30-minute lunches and 15-minute breaks. Anyone see the problem with this?

When I tried to discuss this with the manager, she looked at me blankly and said that she knew it would be a tough few weeks, but my predecessors had managed it just fine. Well, here's the thing...above and beyond doing what my predecessors had done, I also have responsibility for our pizza-pasta/carve station (where I'm training yet another new person) and have a few other hot-side details on my plate. This takes anywhere from 20-60% of my time, depending on how smoothly things are running on a given day.

None of my predecessors had to do any of this.

I've been a manager myself, in the past. I know that labour costs can make or break an organization. But - and it's a big but - in my prior retail lives, we were selling product that came into the store ready-to-sell. In my current incarnation, the majority of our product is turned out by the production staff of cooks and bakers. And I am adamant that maintaining staff at the absolute minimum that can conceivably get the job done is short sighted.

On a "normal" day, when everything goes well and everybody shows up, we are able to get everything done...barely. When we get extra catering orders, or when somebody phones in sick, or when somebody quits without notice, or when a supplier shorts us on a vital piece of our order...which, essentially, is every day that ends in 'y'...we're in the weeds and scrambling. An extra one or two production staff, shared around the various stations, would let us get *so* much more done. Even simple things like cutting up our leftover baguettes for crostini seldom get done, just because we so seldom have anyone with the spare half-hour to make it happen.

Feh.

Sorry, Wendy, I guess I was overdue for a good "vent" as well.

I do tend to chew people out occasionally, when I'm not seeing an honest effort to "get with the program." You know...doing the same things over and over again, despite my repeated and patient explanations of why it's a bad thing (I really, REALLY hate repeating myself); making more work for me or my staff, because of laziness; stuff we could all make a long list of. I tend to be a pretty upbeat, happy-go-lucky person, so the occasional snarling rage tends to get peoples' attention.

“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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here's mine.

i am fresh out of school, still very wet behind the ears. and still very unsure of myself, my skills, etc.

the owner is a good guy but <deep breath> he wants me to make new things but won't let me give any to the waitstaff so they know what it tastes like.

i never see him. i am in at 6 and gone at 4. he comes in for dinner service. when i call him to ask questions, he gives the the most cursory of responses.

friday i made a sponge cake layered with chocolate mousse, covered with ganache. i had made it before, but this time i let chips form in the mousse to change up the texture (i thought the first one was good but too smooth, it just needed some more texture) i stop by last night to see how it is going, he tells me "that cake sucked. i'll let you throw it away."

i know it's his place and he is the boss, but there has got to be someone, somewhere without the personaltiy of a rhino with a toothache. i want to like this guy, but i sometimes think i should go back into I.T.

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I won't let the hot side use my oven when I'm in there.

Period!

I've told them that they have a window to do anything they might need and once that's done, they're SOL.

They pretty much leave me alone, don't fuck with me because they know I'll unload in a big way.

I recently had one of them, a prep person put some UNCOVERED cut onions for a sofrito on the bottom shelf of my rack.

I told them in a nice way, if they see anyone do something like that to have them cater wrap it, because if I walk into the walkin where my stuff is and find them like that again, I'll just throw them out.I agree with simdelish that a warranted rant might get you some respect.

But in general, the hot side does consider us gifted yet tightassed whiners.

It's just the nature of the kitchen.

2317/5000

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Ever want to explain to your boss that one more project dumped in your lap during the busiest day of the year isn't your idea of something exciting and you'd rather not have them jumping for glee in your space about it?

I feel you Wendy. Been there this past week.

Every week I attend a BEO meeting ( Banquet Events Order ). 2 Tuesdays ago I am told that the party for the following Friday (a week and a half away) hasn't chosen their menu yet. Like Wendy, this is the busiest time of the year for me.The next day ( Wednesday) the day before Thanksgiving, I am told that the person organizing the banquet would like BAKED ALASKA, for 600 people! I tell my Banquet director that I can't do that , not for that many people, not a week and a few days away, not on one of the busiest days of the year, that he will have to pick another dessert or 2.

She says " well, if we charge enough, you can do it , right? What part of no do you not understand? :angry:

About 2 hours later she calls to tell me he isn't in and is probably gone for the holiday. Won't be back till Monday - the event is on Friday. So now I won't find out the dessert until Monday, at the earliest. Monday I get his 3 choices, but he wants the dessert to be " showy " - which is why he wanted the Baked Alaska so it could be ignited. NOW, we finally decide to go with only 1 dessert and upscale it some by making an individual garnish to fit this particular company's image. ( Did I mention that she is brown nosing because this company is giving us a couple thousnd dollars )

The banquet is a buffet, but now we must plate up all the desserts so that they can have a sparkler inserted in each slice and lit to create a glowing effect as they are brought into the room.

Needless to say, I wasn't happy about getting a menu so late, wasn't happy about having to plate up 35 cakes when the banquet is buffet style.

So, yes Wendy, I do feel your frustration. :wacko:

Take care,

Jason

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I love you guys, you REALLY make me smile!

I've faced everything you all have mentioned. I think (at least I've tried very hard to) I've gotten past most of those points and issues. Believe me it's been a long hard process of getting knocked down and picking myself back up and learning about challenges. I can handle almost anything now and really roll with it as a challenge. I'm even bored with-out challenges I like them. But something new has popped up and that's really at the crux of what's unnerved/challenged me.

It's my room temp.. Our air system is really screwed up and my boss truly has done everything he can to make the room I work in better. In the summer my room is cooler then in the winter! The heating system and the coolers all vent into my space and there are not windows (I'm in a basement) or vents to open or change (I have a fan but that can't lower the temp, just move the hot air). There is no place to relocate to. The main kitchen is completely out of the question.

I can master anything (so I tell myself- as I have in the past), but I can't master this issue and it's really frustrated me. It's just a couple degrees hotter - but it's effect on my product is enormous! It has turned simple work into excruciating work. I do work on heat sensitive items by working directly in the coolers.......but that works for only for some items (very few).

It took me 3 hours to roll out 50 shortbread cookies for Thanksgiving (yep!). I'd take the dough out to roll and in two minutes it was too soft to handle, I'd chill it in the cooler, take it out- then stand there waiting until the exact moment it softened just enough for me to roll it, but zap- I'd get only a couple done and I had to put it back in the cooler. (Then I had multiple cooks help themselves to those darn cookies. When I told them not to eat those you'd have thought I told them they weren't good enough to eat my cookies) I have two guys now that are holding a grudge against me for asking them not to eat those items. ........oh well.

Everything I do has now turned into being a huge challenge. I can't ask for assistance because even the little things have turned in expert level skills.

What pushed me over the edge recently was a spun sugar garnish for a party of 200. Turn on your stove top burner to heat your sugar, your room gets even hotter. I struggled and struggled with what should have been a quickie project. In the end my solution was (after ruining 100 or so in the process) to heat my sugar upstairs in the main kitchen, bring it down to my room and spin it. Quickly swoop it into portions and transfer it to a room down the hall to hold (it goes flat in seconds in my room). I had to handle this in batches of 10 or less because that was all the time I had before my spun turned into a flat sticky mess. So it went like this: heat sugar, spin sugar, portion sugar, run it down the hall, reheat sugar, spin sugar, portion sugar, run it down the hall, hour after hour. Of course no one jumped in to help me and for some reason I chose that fact to really focus all my anger on. (I did ask for help, but my helper gave up quickly he didn't want to do this- Big SCREAM!)

Things are getting busier and busier and my ability to meet these challenges has been greatly hampered. So I can't get myself over this. I can't rationalize, I can't master this. I cannot demand them to fix this issue, it can't be fixed in time for this months schedule. I start everyday with a fresh out look, tell myself not to let this change my attitude, tell myself not to let other little things upset me, remain pleasant and positive ..........but a couple dozen frustrations later I'm enraged within myself.

OH MY GOD, as I'm writing here and now maybe I've thought of how to solve this. I wonder if I can work thru the night when we can turn the heat off. Oh mannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.........maybe talking this thru has helped............

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Wow, I really do lead a sheltered life at work. :unsure:

But if you want to see my blood pressure go up, just mention the words "flat sheet pan". Grrr. What the hell do they do to those things, anyway?

I really feel for you Wendy. It's tough enough to have a kitchen be uncomfortable, but to be so hot as to make you job all but impossible is ridiculous. I hope your idea of working at night works out for you. The hours will certainly suck, but I've learned that it's not so hard to get used to.

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But if you want to see my blood pressure go up, just mention the words "flat sheet pan". Grrr. What the hell do they do to those things, anyway?

What? Are you trying to say that all your sheet pans are warped at the Bellagio?

Most of mine are too. I hide my flat ones so the hot side doesn't put them in their

infamous 500 degree ovens.

Actually that's a good question......I've never personally warped a sheet pan myself.

How DOES one screw a pan up that bad anyway?

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But if you want to see my blood pressure go up, just mention the words "flat sheet pan". Grrr. What the hell do they do to those things, anyway?

Actually that's a good question......I've never personally warped a sheet pan myself.

How DOES one screw a pan up that bad anyway?

I see them ruin them every day! They throw them everywhere! They throw them on the floor, then they (it takes 2 guys) remove a huge gazillion pound boiling hot stockpot off the burner and carry over and sit it on the sheet pan, so as not to burn the floor. That right there warps it immediately, besides the bottom of the stockpot is curved anyway because it got warped ages ago, so the combo of the heat, the shape of the pot, and the sheer weight... ruins it forever. Then they throw them some more.

Plus, the dishwashers lean the sheet pans diagonally in the sink to scrub, and scrub away with all their might, and that pressure also warps the pan! Then they throw them around some more...

Chef bought me 10 shiny new sheet pans a couple months ago. I got a wide point Sharpie and wrote PASTRY across them in 10" letters... so they know to not use them as stockpot hotplates, and when the dishwashers wash them, they (are supposed to) return mine to ME directly (after throwing them around some more). I keep my own stash in my kitchen. Of course when I come back in Tuesdays, some are missing because invariably some jerk has used one or 2 when using my kitchen, and I have to go pull them from the stack of 50 crummy ones. Did I mention that they throw them...? :laugh:

I like to cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.

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I know I won't get much sympathy from the PCs because I am primarily a hot sider. But I did bake 3 items today. (But I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night).

My chef is absent all the time and has come back from 2 weeks off. We had a complaint about a sauce I made from from lamb broth. The customer wanted a demi and had expressed that to the owner when she booked.

I told the owner that it is pretty darn hard to make demi without veal bones (which I have been asking for since week one). She said that would not be a problem (finaly).

In the past the chef had sent me to a gig with a green peppercorn sauce made from canned beaf broth and cornstarch. It sucked. I could make a better sauce out of pan drippings and Mountain Dew.

So I finally get the bones in. I send the chef on a gig with a good veal stock this weekend for her tenderloin sauce. It went well. A quality sauce really makes a difference.

Fast foreward to today.

The owner calls to tell me about small menu change for tommorow. The banquet was to have flank steak. The hostes (same one that bitched previously about not getting demi...ironically) wanted to know why the dinner was so expensive. The owner tells her, "well, flank steak is as expensive a tenderloin".

Can you guess what came next?

The hostes says, "well I want tenderloin then".

Owner responds, "no problem"

No big deal, just a little extra work for me. The expra expense is not my problem.

The owner calls and asks how I want to sauce it. I tell her off the top of my head that maybe a shitake madeira brown sauce. She tells me "no, I want something sophisticated like green peppercorn sauce".

For those who don't know(as the owner does not), these are both brown sauces. I am pretty sure that If Iasked her what a mother sauce was she would reply "Ketchup!"

No big deal...I will talk it over with the chef.

The chef comes in. She tells me that it is a waste to be making our own veal stock because we can make all our sauces just as well out of canned beef broth.

Super.

Talk about trying to make whipped cream out of skim milk.

I guess Escoffier and the chefs since just didn't know how to make a nice demi out of rat piss.

She wants to make a blue cheese sauce for the tenderloin anyway.

Fast foreward to tommorow. The chef will tell the owner who will tell the hostess that we are having a blue cheese sauce. The chef will be nowhere to be found tomorrow. I will wait until 5:00PM for either the the chef or a quality cheese to show up. Niether will happen, then I will have to find a way to make a sauce out of rat piss and velvetta.

At least I will get a laugh out watching the other staff members trying to make creme carmel out of condensed milk and brown sugar.

I don't get to write the munu and I don't get to learn anything. I have the best of both worlds.

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Sometimes all you can reply is neck down. That's all you get folks is a body. Give it direction and ingredients otherwise you get what you get. I will do the best that I can with what you give me but please give me my last check. Soon!!! :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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But if you want to see my blood pressure go up, just mention the words "flat sheet pan". Grrr. What the hell do they do to those things, anyway?

What? Are you trying to say that all your sheet pans are warped at the Bellagio?

Most of mine are too. I hide my flat ones so the hot side doesn't put them in their

infamous 500 degree ovens.

Actually that's a good question......I've never personally warped a sheet pan myself.

How DOES one screw a pan up that bad anyway?

Warped!? I swear most of them look like they turned a flame thrower on them while simultaneously running over them with a tank. I saw one the other day that "something" had eaten through so badly you could could actually see the reinforcing wire exposed around part of the edge. They bought us a whole stack of shiny new ones a couple months ago, but most of those have made their way out of the pastry kitchen by now and have gotten the "treatment".

Oh, and then there are the times when I open the oven door to take out the creme brulees and get a big noseful of FISH! Ewwwwwww.

(rat piss and velveta - ha! :laugh: )

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I've resorted to stashing equipment in previous jobs. I hate having to do that! In my current job I've bought some of my own equipment so I don't have the frustrations. When the hot siders ask to borrow my equipment I feel like a B---- to say "no" (oh the looks they give you) but darn it I'm not rich and supplying equipment for others too.

Currently we have about 15 sheets that are flat and I sort thru 3 stacks of sheet pans everyday to find the flat ones. So does the morning salad guy. Try to explain to him that it doesn't matter if your tray is flat holding a bunch of salad plates but it does matter to me when I'm trying to bake a sheet cake. They all think your crazy, selfish.

I love when the pans are soooo warped that as you insert them into your speed rack they stick, then you give it a nudge.............. and it pops up so the top of my cakes hit the rack above it. Urg........

I have sympathy for you RETREVR, we all face those obstacles!!! The best I can offer you is to put it all at your chefs feet, don't take any of that on yourself. It's not your battle to fight. If you can't meet deadlines, oh well, sometimes you gotta let things fall apart before anyone notices and attempts to fix it. Then let them kill themselves over how to fix things.

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We actually have to supply all of our own small hand tools such as whisks, spatulas, knives (of course), cutters, piping tips, etc. I had to put bright orange tape on all of my tools, because if you happen to leave them around, someone else will pick them up and you'll never see them again. If you do happen to catch someone using one of your tools and you ask them "is that yours?", they'll just look at you and say "no". No!? Then why the hell are you using it?

I swear, if I could bring in my own sheet pans and find a place to stash them where nobody else could get at them, I'd do it. Same with a speed rack, which we have to hunt for every single morning.

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I don't know if my opinion matters much... I've never worked in the industry; I'm just a foodie who cooks at home.

If you are in a kitchen in which the equipment and/or food is really, really below par, all I can say is GET OUT OF THERE. As soon as possible, find another job. After being in the workforce for 30 years, I can truthfully say the worst mistakes I've made have all involved hanging onto a losing proposition waaaaaay too long. Building a stable resume/track record can be a very good thing, but sticking with a genuinely substandard situation only stifles your growth as a professional. Adversity can teach you how to cope and how to problem solve, but when it reaches the point where your supervisor doesn't know the difference between demi made from veal bones, and whatever-it-is that comes from canned beef stock, it's definitely time to polish up the ol' resume.

Standing up for yourself is always good, and if you can do it with substantial self-respect, you may be able to make some headway. But if the people you work with are jerks, it won't matter. Those people have to become afraid of you, in one sense or another.

Sometimes you can get co-workers onto your side by developing a reputation for being very good, and a very good coworker, in terms of helping others out when you can. But if the people you work with are jerks, it won't matter. They will never have any respect for you because they have no respect for themselves, and they will never appreciate anything you do for them.

When the going gets rough, try to get to the mindset where you're working for YOU, not for your boss or for your customers. I know that's easier said than done. Been there, tried to do that a lot. It eventually required a lot of growing up and soul-searching on my part. Meltdowns are human and very understandable, but they're a lot more effective if the person having them is someone known for always striving for excellence. (Not perfectionism; there's a difference.) And there is no other person who deserves excellence--only you. Your boss doesn't pay you enough to earn it from you. Customers deserve excellent food, but they only see your products one at a time. The kind of never-waivering, never compromising, never slacking excellence that lets you walk out the door every day with a clear conscience --you're the only one who deserves the benefits of that.

May I add?-- you guys have my absolute respect. Until I read this thread, I never imagined what kinds of conditions you work under. I'm currently listening to Ruhlman's "Making of a Chef" on tape; the chapter on baking is awesome. Go read it. Ruhlman even talks about not fully understanding what a baker does, because he's a cook, not a baker, and he knows he doesn't get it. It'll probably be a very soothing, supportive dose of respect that you could use along about now.

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Oh I found myself nodding my head a lot and laughing as I read this thread. So much of this rings true for me as well. Although, I've never had to make anything with rat piss and velveeta :wink: .

Wendy (or anyone else for that matter) -- you're definitely not alone in the world of difficult or environmentally challenged workspaces. It seems to be the bane of pastry people everywhere. It was one of the reasons I left my last job. How could I be expected to do my best in a subpar environment? If the only time I could temper chocolate was before 7 am or between 10 and 10:30 am, when the kitchen was cool and certain, careless cooks weren't around? If I had to keep "reminding" the guy next to me not to turn the oven up to 500 degrees during lunch service (warm chocolate cake? no, charbroiled hockey puck!) If I had to "dumb down" the plating because the evening plater just wasn't capable of following instructions? And so many other reasons that have already been listed in this thread. Although I did find good place to hide my sheet pans...in the freezer! People who are too lazy to label containers or ask before turning up the oven never think to look for sheetpans in the freezer.

But to the point... good for you for trying to work through the situation and come up with a solution, rather than just walking out! I know how hard that can be on some days. Obviously you have lots of support here (which is why egullet is so great) and you're trying to keep positive. Let us know how it goes...

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