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Frustrations on the job

Wendy DeBord

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I feel so guilty.

As pastry person, i have my own, separate kitchen on another floor away from the hot line. Only drawback is having to wash dishes without a dishwashing machine, and clean the whole thing by myself. But it's well worth it. Also, i have no range, only ovens and a steam kettle (for chocolate tempering). But i have my own walk-in, and the restaurant's walk-in and walk-in freezer are only 40 feet away, whereas the hot line guys have to walk down two flights of stairs to get their supplies (which are next to my kitchen). I have my own mixers and robot coupe, my own juicer, my own pasta maker, my own silpats, my own muffin pans and ring molds, and, while i have to fight for flat sheet pans, we have about 100 each halves and fulls, so i can get what i need on a fairly regular basis. We have an abundance of speedracks, too.

I feel all of your pain.

Edited by zilla369 (log)

Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

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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?

btw...my old pastry sous (who is an absolute genius) showed me how to alleviate this problem....she drilled holes in the corners of all the flat sheet pans. this really has no effect on the baking side (oh, occaisionally you might lose a little bit of the corner of some roulade if you forget to plug it up), but it makes a HUGE disaster in the oven for the bone-roasters and stove-top sauce reducers who warped all the other ones. once they've messed with your sheet pans they'll never steal them again.

also, since it's impossible to explain that it's not really that you mind them using your crimpers to pull the pin bones out of the fish, but that you mind them wasting your precious time when you go looking for the stuff they don't return, i suggest that you put all your small tools somewhere that it's impossible for them to get at without being noticed....inside a service low-boy, in a box under your table, on a high shelf where they'd be noticed reaching....and then, when they absolutely have to borrow your peeler, make them leave a deposit....no cash, no equip....they'll remember to bring it back, and then you're not the proverbial insane pastry chef. also, though it's a pain in the ass and it makes you feel petty, lock up everything when you leave....even if you need to get out the old drill and put a lock on the proof box to hide all those labor intensive cookies that the little cooks just love to eat.

having worked all around the kitchen, i can tell you that these are battles you'll never win...pretty much all of them, honestly, and that the best thing for all concerned, but particularly yourself is to establish which of the things that drive you crazy are untenable and to try to find solutions that you....and only you, don't count on the rest of 'em, can live with. if that means backing yourself up with emergency frozen cookie doughs or cakes, even though that might not normally meet your standards, by all means, reconsider your standards. if that means buying miniature tart shells whan it's too busy to make them yourself, well, sometimes somethings gotta give, and you're the commodity here. sometimes it's painful as a pc to let go, but if 110% is all you have to give, then that should be satisfactory.

and, hey....if your chef insists on buying you inferior product (though you can try the old food cost argument...."this product is inferior and therefore it costs us more than the appropriate one, which is x and costs y and will save us z", but make sure you know xyand z...), you pretty much can't win. same goes for the manager who wants you to do cashier duty. either they respect youfand your special abilities, or they don't, and it's all a losing proposition. there really are a lot of jobs for dedicated and talented pastry chefs, and there's no need to put up with that kind of crap. just make sure that at your next job....without sounding like a prima donna...you establish the product that you wish to use, and what exactly your job description will be. i wish i had for many of my old jobs!

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May I add?-- you guys have my absolute respect.  Until I read this thread, I never imagined what kinds of conditions you work under.

Seconded. I can't imagine voluntarily working in 90+degree heat for hours on end every day, just to mention what seems like the worst thing some of you deal with. You must really love your work to put up with such dreadful working conditions. Any thought to a pastry chefs' and bakers' union?

Michael aka "Pan"


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I learned after many years of struggling; you say no, you quit, you move on. You can find a kitchen where the cooks are a team. They will help you when you are buried. The more that the cooks respect you, the more they will help. I give tastings, teach people about fruit and ingredients- they care more about the pastry. No one has ever used my tools or equipment without asking.

Complaining and resentful anger is a terrible cycle. Your life is too short to work like that.

Bad egg whites? Tell your Chef "no I can't use them", and use fresh- the cost difference is very minor.

Make it so that it is not an option for a cook to turn the oven up. I will write them up (as an extreme). Take their items out of the oven. Place all of your burned items directly in front of them- save them to later discuss with the Chef.

A Chef that is doing his job keeps you supplied with tools. If the Chef if not doing the job, get another job.

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There's a difference between working with people who aren't familiar with pastry chefs and their job and people who don't care. No job is perfect, there will always be small issues that drive you crazy at a job. I believe that people have to be told what's wrong, for them to realize someone else has a problem. I have verbalized the issues that lead to my melt down and they have taken action.

You have to admit, to the hot side many of our issues look pretty bizarre and petty. They've never experienced egg whites or heavy cream that won't whip. It's not logical.

The drilled holes in sheet pan corners is GENIUS! That, plus hiding them in the freezer are Brilliant ideas!!!!

What totally creative solutions!

Leaving a job isn't something any professional does easily. You have to evaluate the situation. In my case I can't expect people to read my mind and to know my job. Once I've verbalized problems if they are ignored, then it's time to consider moving on. No one is has done anything wrong intentionally! Just the opposite, they jump thru hoops to please me.

It's all really about communication and finding creative ways to solve problems. I'm working on those skills, but I'm a long way from perfecting them.

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I suppose you could take your own medicine and follow the advice you gave me a while back, so you don't get so "wound up", see the forest for the trees,etc, and don't sweat the small stuff.

Or, you could do what I do and take ZOLOFT . it makes you not give a @#$% about the small stuff at all. especially in interpersonal relationships.

or you could bitch about it here on EG, where we all understand and have been through every bit of it. except Neil who is apparently spoiled rotten!!(kidding, flat sheet pans are like gold)

I've worked in places where I've used a wine bottle for a rolling pin, made cake pans out of foil, and not even had a mixer and do everything by hand. duct tape is our friend. sometimes I put it over my mouth to keep from biting people's heads off, and I draw pretty lips w/ a smile on it.

Melissa McKinney

Chef/Owner Criollo Bakery


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duct tape is our friend. sometimes I put it over my mouth to keep from biting people's heads off, and I draw pretty lips w/ a smile on it.

See, NOW there's another Creative idea! I don't recall seeing any of these real tips when I read thru "The Making Of A Pastry Chef".

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