13 thoughts on “Things I Never Expected To See…

  1. Maybe it has a very specific meaning in the cuisine industry as it stands, but as NW points out, “executive” generally means “pretentious bulls***”. I once saw a guy who called himself, with no sense of irony, the executive editor of his blog, which had maybe five contributors at the time.

    Ironically demoting himself, since the “proprietor” or “owner” out ranks his “executive editor” any day. I wish them well, and it looks wonderful, but what ever happened to the reality that in a normal restaurant, even one with a Michelin star or two, the titles are “chef” and “sous chef”?

  2. Executive Chef’s are responsible for creating menus, negotiating prices with vendors, buying enough materials but not too much, setting meal prices and accounting for \ reducing waste; they are as much business as culinary professionals. There really is a there, there.

  3. “The feature is grilled Chilean sea bass topped with herb infused olive oil served with garlic basil potatoes and fresh grilled asparagus.”

    Sooooo its not just Perkins vs the downtown lunch café anymore.

  4. Swiftee; yes, but it’s the same distinction that used to be indicated by the different titles “chef” and “sous chef”, as far as I can tell. And I’m guessing that this place does not really have enough people for three levels.

    I see the same kind of title inflation all over, even in churches. It flatters egos, but doesn’t get anything done.

  5. Bubba, I’ve always said “you can call me the assistant to the janitor, just pay me like an engineer”.

  6. It’s all about the money. One reason a sous chef is ranked higher than a line cook is that the sous chef can turn the left over trimmings from last night’s prime rib into soup that sells for $7 a bowl.

  7. Swiftee: I’d love to get the title “grand poo bah” sometime. Not everybody thinks like we do–for that matter, I’m not quite sure that I always want to in a status conscious workplace.

    Bento: exactly the attitude needed in an industry as volatile as restaurants. :^)

  8. Bikebubba, my wife was in the restaurant business for twenty five years, as line cook, sous chef, and executive chef. It is a fascinating business. Lots of money goes in and out every day. It’s seductive. You look at all that revenue and think you can squeeze five or ten percent out of it as profit.
    Trying to come up with a winning business strategy is difficult. many restaurants try to scale up by opening for breakfast, but the same demographic that will spend $30 for a dinner entree won’t pay more than $10 for breakfast. If you are really good and do land-office business, you run into a seat limit, with no easy way to increase the number of seats without changing locations. I’ve known some chefs who have taken the plunge, opened their own place, and failed because they weren’t good managers. They just loved to cook.
    The most successful restaurateur I’ve known was an Australian guy who came up trough the ranks as an F&B manager at resorts in Indonesia. He found a place on the Big Island that had a lot of upscale tourists with only three sit down restaurants within a twenty mile radius. He had 60 seats, and I figure he cleared about $250k/year from the place. That is rare. Too bad he got got into a pissing contest with his landlord and lost the lease.

  9. Bento; understood. My late mother worked in food service (just not in restaurants) for nearly half a century. One of her jobs was to install systems that would predict demand for various foods with the goal of reducing food costs by about 4%. The customers LOVED it–must have worked reasonably well.

    She loved telling a story about how the line cooks wanted to buy canned cheese sauce and presented some to demonstrate that “the recipe didn’t work.” My mom took one look and said “you didn’t cook the roux long enough”–the cooks didn’t realize their boss was no stranger the the kitchen.

    Cool, tough business.

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