As I type this post I can't stop thinking about my ladies of eating fabulously. As my last few days as executive chef come to an end, I'm reflecting back on how this year has been an unexpected learning experience. Accepting the exec chef position at the age of 24( at the time) I didn't know how much work was in store for me. From an indecisive and disrespectful owner, to a staff of all men, and bringing a close friend on board to be my sous chef, this experience was sink or swim... And I had to swim fast! I went into this role of knowing nothing... One more time for the people in the back...Let me repeat NOTHING. Of course I know how to cook but being a chef is more than cooking. Did I know how to manage, delegate, order food, pay people, and schedule them to come to work? Umm no. I was flying by the seat of my pants and I was doing it alone... 6 days..60 hrs a week (until my fairy god mother brought me a sous chef) I have been through crying in the bathroom on my shift, to having a trailing sous chef walk out on me, to giving up my personal life for a year and a half all in the name of love... Love for the restaurant. If Ive learnt nothing this past year I learned how to stand up for my self... Learned about racism, yes that is still alive and well (I'm a young black woman)..learned that sexism is still running rapid...again I'm a woman in a mans world, and not to let anyone disrespect you, your work ethic, your craft, or your time.
I must say, I appreciate all the plates that came back into the kitchen cleaned from happy and full customers; my friends who came and ate dinner and supported me; the food sales I raised for the restaurant; the people I've meet along the way. I didn't go through this without falling on my ass though..and sometimes everyday! The nights I was sleep and woke up thinking "Did I order eggs"? "Whose scheduled to work tomorrow"?! Have you ever heard the ticket printer in your sleep? This girl has! I can say that I have out lasted 3 male chefs, and 2 sous chefs, and raised food sales(and customer satisfaction) all in a year and a half! WHEW! Im tired! Would I turn down the job again? Nope! I'd do it again in a New York minute. At the end of the day, its not about having my name printed on the bottom of a menu. I really and genuinely hope that I actually taught my fellow staff something, and showed them that working in a kitchen doesn't have to be stressful!
Now, for my ladies I'm offering you some delicious bits on all the things I learnt on the job and none of it is how to cook a roast properly. These following points are just a few things that I want my ladies to know when you reach this exciting point in your career or just in general as you work your way through the kitchen(or any job)!.. Read about them after the jump!
Things that I wish I knew a year and a half ago BUT never the less I am happy I learnt them!
- Know what your talking about at all times!
-Know all the latest restaurant industry scoop, know the who's who of chefs, the latest trends, and eat out often
- Walk in the restaurant and kitchen everyday with your head held high and looking fabulous!
- Know the numbers like its your phone number. Know how much $$ $ the restaurant made since they opened; how much you make in a day; how much the restaurant makes a year; how many covers you do for lunch, brunch and dinner; how many times you turn tables on your busiest night.
-Know where you get your ingredients from, your male chef friends will ask!
-Know how everything you produce out of your kitchen is made, cooked, and executed.
-Know how to work the line on the busiest night and on the slowest nights.
-Know how to work the line better than the guys!
- If something is wrong and you know it speak up
-If your vendor is wrong make him right !
- Know that no one will take you seriously right off the bat. Show them you mean business
-Be quiet sometimes and just listen
-If you have to cry do it in the bathroom, shake it off, and re-apply your mascara an get back to work
- Know how to cook a steak and a burger to the proper temperature
- Know your food cost
- Sharpen your knives infront of a guy
- Know that someone is doubting you because you have breast
- Never let a guy lift any pot for you
- If you are going out in the dining room, fix ur hair, adjust your chef coat, apply lip gloss, everyone WILL see you