Memories of a professional chef part 5.
One of the fun games we in the management staff like to play in the restaurant business is called Look at this application! I mean application in its paper form and not the cool apps for your smartphone form.
When someone questionable comes to the front door with an application already filled out OR asks for an application to fill out we wait to see how the person filled out their application. By questionable I mean someone who looks like they just escaped from prison or looks like they have been up for four days. First impressions do count. If you think the person who takes your application doesnt tell management of how you acted or how you looked you should just take t that job at the gas station your cousin offered you and get it over with.
A friend of mine at another store in the company actually posts the better ones on his Facebook account. I think this is going to bite him in the ass since a lot of corporate people are Facebook friends with him but I digress. Here are some good ones:
On an application for line cook, the box that asks What are your qualifications for this job? a person wrote: I can stand in one place for a very long time. Nope.
I had a young kid put in his application. I passed on calling him at all because he didnt list any cooking experience at all. He called me two days later around noon (Which, by itself, is a huge red flag. No one who knows anything about restaurants calls at noon to talk to the chef. Noon is usually when we are neck deep in lunch orders) to ask if I had seen his application. I said yes but I was looking for experienced cooks. He said; I can cook my own grill cheese at home. I actually laughed in the phone. He hung up. Putz.
Usually, if we are actively looking for someone the person at the front door knows it and will come back and tell the chef there is someone filling out an app. I have gotten several great cooks this way and then there are the losers.
I had one guy waiting for me at the bar when I came into work one day at 2PM. He wasnt drinking. The bartender told him I wouldnt be in until 2 and he said he would wait. It seems he was there with his friend and the friends little kid. Since I needed someone I went right out to talk to him before I even changed into my chef coat and pants.
I want to preface this story by saying the guy with the app was black. His friend and kid were white. I know racism is always an issue in this country but I am not a racist. Yeah, I know you have heard that before but let me explain.
When, as a chef, I need to fill a position I need to do it very quickly. If the fry guy decides to not show up on a Friday night we cant just stop selling fried items. That isnt feasible. Not to mention the guy is probably working all weekend and at least five days next weekend. Either I start working 3 or 4 double shifts (And since I am salary, I wouldnt actually get paid for the extra hours.) or I fill the position. Now, if someone is willing and able to work so I dont have to work for free an extra 20 to 30 hours a week, great! I dont care what color you are or who you sleep with or that you just got out of jail. Show up on time, do your job, and I will be a happy man.
Now back to the black guy waiting for me. When I got out to the bar to talk to him I noticed he had a tear drop tat under his left eye. No big deal. I have worked with and hired a few guys with the exact same tat. I asked him to sit at one of the tables to get him alone to talk about his work history. We turn to walk to one of the tables and the guys friend and kid follows us. I didnt think anything of it since it was also the direction of the front door. Well, I was in for a surprise. The black guy sits down across the table from me. His friend and kid sit down at the table behind him and the white guy turns so he can hear our conversation. It was a little weird but I didnt care if these guys didnt. I started asking the black guy about his work history, where he worked, what kind of cooking he did etc. Every time I asked a question, the white guy would answer for the black guy. After about three questions in I was thinking what the fuck is going on here? Are they fucking with me? Do they think I seriously wont care if the black guy doesnt answer any of the questions?
I let this go on for about ten minutes and finally looked at the application closer. Every one of our apps has a question asking Have you ever been convicted of a felony? The black guy had written yes. In the second question it asks If so, what were you convicted of? Someone had written Will explain in interview. Not unusual. I have seen that a couple hundred times. But, at this point I was having doubts if the black guy even filled this app out or if it was his buddy who did. So, I turned to the black guy and asked What were you convicted of? He then said pretty much the only complete sentence of the entire interview: Its a long story. He said this with his arms crossed staring at me as if daring me to ask him to explain it. I wasnt afraid at all just a little amused. So I told him to call me the next day and Id have a decision for him. I knew he wasnt going to call. He didnt. I hired somebody else.
One of the other chefs from another store told me about one of the funniest interviews he ever had. He also said it was the quickest. A guy came in to fill out an application and wanted to speak to the chef. The chef went out to speak to him and the guy wanted to know if he could come back the next day for an interview. The chef said fine since he was a little busy at the moment anyway. He had set up an interview with the guy for 1PM the next day. On the next day the bartender comes back about ten to 1 to say a guy has been sitting at his bar drinking for about an hour and has just told him he was here for an interview. The chef didnt believe him and went out to the bar. Sure as shit there was the guy who the chef had talked to the day before to set up the interview. The guy saw the chef and ACTUALLY RAISED HIS BEER in a hello gesture. The chef nodded to him and turned right back around and went back into the kitchen. Not technically an interview but close enough to NOT get hired. The guy ended up asking the bartender about twenty minutes later (Still swigging beers mind you.) if the chef was ever going to come out and talk to him. The bartender was one of the old timers who could get away with murder and laughed in the guys face, shook his head and walked away.