The sight of a head chef shouting “your fired” after some poor chef has had a mishap is a TV image that we all secretly find funny. But how close to the truth is this media portrayed stereotype, Do chefs really get fired on the spot, and for what reasons?
During my career, I have witnessed chefs getting fired for a range of reasons such as;
- Poor timekeeping
- Being disrespectful
- Poor performance
- Bad attitude
- Alcohol misuse
Like all jobs there is a process to go through before dismissing an employee and in reality chefs do not get fired on the spot.
As you can see from above snippet, the reasons chefs get sacked are similar to any other career. However, in my experience the catering industry is unique as when these problems occur, they occur with a bang!
I recently posted an article covering the main reasons why chefs quit their job. Therefor, I thought it was only fair to write this one about why chefs loose their job and why these situations are usually so intense in the catering industry!
Chefs Get Fired For Poor Timekeeping
In my experience, poor timekeeping is usually the number one reason why chefs get fired. The working hours for a chef can be very long, and some find the pace difficult to handle.
A chef may find themselves finishing a shift at 11 o’clock at night (or later) and yet still need to be in for 8am the next morning (to cover the breakfast shift) This can obviously be very long hours to work, and oversleeping is a common trait.
The nocturnal nature of the job is another factor that accounts for a high level of poor timekeeping in the industry.
It’s very common for chefs to unwind after a busy service with a drink or two in the local bar. This can easily lead to a few more and before you know it the morning alarm is being snoozed one to many times!
Due to the nature of the shifts, one may think that the Head Chef would be lenient with poor timekeeping. Generally the opposite is true.
If every member of the kitchen started turning up late there would be chaos and the kitchen would spiral out of control. For this reason the Head Chef tends to maintain high discipline and stamp out any poor timekeeping quickly.
Chefs Get Sacked For Being Disrespectful
Chefs will often be fired for being disrespectful to their superiors as maintaining high levels of discipline in a kitchen is vital.
There are such high levels of pressure that the discipline is what keeps everyone pulling together. The Head Chef is under just as much pressure as everyone else (if not more).
During a heated service if a chef is in a bad mood, and starts being disrespectful, the Head Chef will usually let them know pretty quickly that it is unacceptable.
Sometimes this is not entirely fair and a result of the pressure that the Head Chef himself is under.
What tends to happen then is that the Chef will wait to the next day to have a quiet discussion with the offending chef. If they have a good working relationship they can usually repair the damage with a simple apology.
However, if this is a recurring pattern, that whenever service gets busy they start losing their cool, then it’s usually decided that the chef may be better of finding a more suitable kitchen.
I remember once hearing a chef shout “go get a job at F*%#ing McDonalds” at a fellow chef who was struggling to keep up during service
Chefs Get Fired For Developing A Poor Attitude
Another reason why I have seen chefs get fired is for poor attitude. By poor attitude I mean, when you can see that a chef has had enough. This is evidenced by their general demeanour in the kitchen and the vocabulary that they are using.
Another common sign of poor attitude, is forgoing any passion in their cooking. When a chef starts doing just enough, rather than putting passion into their cooking, it is usually the start of a downward spiral.
The catering industry is tough and chefs are able to put up with the demands due to their love for cooking. If this love begins to go then unfortunately all you are left with is a difficult job with few upsides!
As in all work places, poor attitude of one person can spread through a workforce like wildfire. This is especially true in kitchens, with everyone spending so much time together both in and out of work.
Great Head Chefs recognise the need to remove poor attitudes quickly before they risk bringing the whole team down.
Chefs Can Be Dismissed For Poor Performance
Chefs can often be fired for poor performance. The cuisine standards in some kitchens can be extremely high and unfortunately not every chef is able to meet that standard.
From 3 Michelin Star restaurants to the smallest cafes, there are different levels of chef.
A Chef De Partie in a 3 Michelin star restaurant is not the same as a Chef De Partie in local pub restaurant for example. No disrespect to any chefs, there are levels that one chef can cook at compared to another.
There is also a large difference in the standards between chefs and cooks as discussed here!
It can often happen that a chef finds themselves out of their depth. A chef may take a job and then discover that the standard of cooking is so much higher than they were expecting. In these situations the Head chef tends to either offer them a lower position in the kitchen or ask them to leave.
As a side note here, most chef jobs have a one month (or more) probation period. This is usually more than enough time to discover if a chef is up to the level required or if they have perhaps “exaggerated their resume.”
There’s no shame in being let go in this way. Sink or Swim mentality can be a great way for some to progress and is admirable in many ways.
Chefs Are Sometimes Fired For Alcohol Misuse
In my experience some chefs are dismissed due to alcohol misuse. The nature of the trade relies on late evenings and early mornings at work. Unfortunately some chefs overdo the lifestyle that comes with being a chef.
Unfortunately, as in all walks of life, some people get carried away with the career lifestyle. Add to that the late finishes and early starts that I mentioned earlier and it’s easy to see why alcohol one of the main causes of chef dismissals.
That being said, a great part about being a chef is the camaraderie among the kitchen team. There is a wonderful time after work when everyone gets around together and has a few drinks to unwind. The vast majority have no problem with this
This is a light hearted post so I won’t go into too much detail here. However, I wrote this article on the dangers affecting a chefs mental health.
To Sum Up
These are the 5 main reasons I have witnessed as to why chefs get fired.
Fortunately for many chefs, being fired from one job is not usually a barrier to entry to obtaining another. Chefs tend to move around kitchens frequently and being let go is often the start of an exciting new chapter in their career.