How Do I Get the Cooks in My New Kitchen on My Side?
Q: I just took over a kitchen and everyone seems to be on board with me as the new chef and the new menu. There are two line cooks that were close with the old chef, and I do feel some hostility towards me from them. I had nothing to do with the old boss leaving and have never met him before. Can I bring these two cooks around, or do I need to send them on their way?
A: It is never easy to be the boss, especially if you are taking over from someone that was liked by the crew. Even if you had nothing to do with the old chef being replaced, some loyal cooks will still dislike you just for being there. There is a silver lining to this situation, and you can get it to work to your advantage.
The fact that these two cooks dislike you for no reason proves that they are loyal, just to the wrong chef. If you can win them over, that loyalty will shift to you, and all will be well. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done.
First off, keep an eye out for these two sabotaging you in any way. This includes bad mouthing you to the other employees or slacking off. You are the boss, and whether they like it or not, what you say goes. Don’t give up your authority in order to make friends with these cooks. It is not worth it in the long run.
If it seems like they are working hard and not talking too much shit, the best way to win them over is to be the best chef you can be. They will see you working hard, being fair, and standing up for the kitchen and eventually, they will respect you.
One of the best ways to bring a group together is to include everyone and make sure all the kitchen staff feels invested in the process. An open dialogue in the kitchen can go a long way towards replacing the bad vibes for good ones.
But, if after your best efforts fail and they are still not on board, it’s time for you to sit them down and have a chat. One disrespectful cook can poison your whole kitchen, and if they can team up, it’s twice as dangerous. Since it is presumed that everyone involved in this situation is an adult, then everyone should be able to understand why disrespecting the chef is not going to work.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are the boss now. They can either get with the program or go find another job. Good luck.