Photo: Flickr / FlÐ¾Ð¾d
It sucks to be a chef for a startup, according to one chef, Jonas Luster, writing on Quora.Here’s why:
It is shit. Let me say this again: shit.
I have never had such a job but I am friends with people who were, are, or work under someone who is.
First, tech companies are places where people with strong opinions and even stronger beliefs in their own universal excellence go to work. To quote my friend who is the chef in one (non-Silicon Valley) company: “I have never met so many chefs in my life”. Everyone is “a little bit of a chef” themselves and knows better than the hired guy what to make and how to make it.
Secondly, tech companies are (this is a good thing) melting pots. Every dietary habit, creed, religion, and understanding, correct or not, of food converges on a company like this. Out in the field you get to run your place and whomever doesn’t like it eats somewhere else. Even in other corporate jobs you’re more or less a three-direction pony. In tech companies you have religious dietary habits with much a-whinin’ if the kosher food is prepared next to the treyf food. And the vegan food next to the vegetarian which is cooked next to the food for the 20+ paleodrones which is cooked by the same guy who makes the special food for the “no salt, no sugar, no fat” crowd. And then there’s the fish on Fridays which you can’t cook next to the chicken for those who don’t eat fish or beef or pork and the special food for everyone and the fact that it’s perfectly OK to demand that everyone else like your heritage food but to protest loudly if any other heritage food is cooked. Not to mention the whining if your heritage food doesn’t taste like you think it should, and so on and so on.
Thirdly, while it might sound like a dream job, you’re the first to feel cost cutting measures. Before servers, desks, laptops, bluetooth mice, and golf outings for the CEO it’s the food that suffers. Yes, even in places that make a big stink about how local and fresh and healthy they are.
You’re usually (I know of one place where this isn’t the case) overseeing a bunch of employees supplied by another company like Aramark, Centerplate, or OneSource. They generally aren’t cooks per se, more lunch ladies, know that the worst that can happen to them is that they’ll be sent to a different place to work, and are protected by many layers of outsourcing company bureaucracy and union bullcrap that whipping them into shape is a pain and not always successful.
Yes, there’s stock and there’s above-average compensation. No one in those jobs makes as much as my country-club or personal chef friends make but it’s more than someone in a restaurant makes. And, yes, there’s the fact that you’re cooking for millionaires and people who know millionaires so at some point when you’re leaving you might have fat cash in hand for your own.
But, no, it’s not an “awesome” job by much any stretch of the imagination.
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