Two weeks ago my favorite cook got fired. He tried to tell me the day of, a Monday, catching me on the street, but I was late and told him I’ll see him tomorrow. Pedro worked two jobs in K-Town, he was leaving his first job when he stopped me. However, I was focused on relieving the person prior and brushed him off. Indeed I did see him the next day, both of us arriving at the door simultaneously. Giddy to see him, I grabbed his backpack strap, telling him it’s time to work, let’s go.
“Me no work here anymore, mi amor.”
“What? What do you mean?” I asked, perplexed.
”Me finito,” he whistles shortly through his teeth “Finished.”
As I was processing this asinine distortion of reality, I received a message from the manager. Good tidings, Daniel is gone and a new server is coming. I don’t even wanna go into Daniel, he’s gonna be on America’s Most Wanted one day, watch. He does sick things. Since he’s been fired sales have gone up and the ice machine I told them he broke has started working again, after dispensing no ice for months.
Money is energy, Daniel tortured guests with depressing music, or by playing no music at all, stole money from the register, invited his friends to eat hundreds of dollars worth of food multiple times a week, then deleted it sans paying. He was a liar and a little shit.
“That’s great but why is Pedro fired? I need him. He keeps everything together, Tomas and Guillermo are drunks who make the wrong food, sexually harass people and get angry. The chef doesn’t work with them, I do.” Pedro came to pick up his last check which naturally wasn’t there. He called the chef to no avail, having to come back the following week.
He showed up to get his final check drunk and devastated, spilling tofu soup all over himself, passing out, calling his wife then sobbing. I mean truly sobbing. As many cooks as I’ve seen come and go in my less than a year of employment, this is the only time I cared. I started crying with him, while the drunk predatory cook laughed. Pedro apologized profusely to me for not working their anymore, dressed in what was considered his best clothing. The other server Mo and I walked him to the train.
I demanded the manager to tell me why he was fired when we got back. The chef told him he asked Pedro to wipe a plate, he didn’t but Tomas did… Hands down the stupidest reason I’ve ever heard of someone getting terminated. I assured him Pedro doesn’t send out dirty plates, that the chef probably made him nervous. Pedro was the only cook who clocked in early, when the shit for brains chef decided he wanted to save $15 by leaving us without a cook for an hour (this has happened four times, at a fucking restaurant, losing us money when guests leave). Instead of clocking out after 8 hours, he stayed one more, making sure Wendy an elderly Korean woman had a cook until the next one came. Pedro never received overtime payment for doing us these favors like the chef promised. Furthermore Tomas touched my ass. He also came in drunk days prior, sexually harassing the 19 year old busboy, going as far as locking him in the bathroom with him as he tried to clean. I took pictures of Tomas’s hand on his ass, with the busboy pushing him away. Later that same shift Tomas came into the walk in fridge with me, trying to shove my face into his crouch while I refilled bean paste. I fucked that nigga up, but not the way I wanted to. I elbowed him in the stomach and dick. I tower over Tomas, who is short, fat and sloppy. When he gets drunk he becomes angry, uncontrollable, crosses boundaries, gives slow service, vomits, shits, then passes out unable to cook. Leaving the dishwasher, or busboy to take over. All of this including the aforementioned photos were sent to the manager, who sent it to the chef. His response- the past is in the past, eventually all of them will be fired. To which I replied when it happens again, which it will since they’re both alcoholics, I’m going to break his fingers and that’s the least I’ll do. Aka I’m going to sue the shit out of you.
Cut to this past Thursday, the dumb shit. To be spiteful the chef schedules me with both drunks. At one point we have one five top, they ordered two pajeon, a seolleong tang deluxe, and a beef bugogi. Having two cooks this should have been done in twenty minutes, a half an hour goes by without a single dish finished. I go to see what the hold up is, as suspected both cooks are wasted. Guillermo is beyond inebriated. Confiding in the busboy, I tell him I’m not even going to complain since they’re all getting fired. At minute forty I yell into the kitchen inquiring about the food. That’s when I notice Guillermo flipping the pancakes repeatedly on their plates, rather than putting the food up. Not only that, they messed one up and had to start over.
As Tomas makes the new pancake, Guillermo continues harassing the dishwasher, before clocking out early. I tell him to go home, as he’s now out amongst guests getting violent, grabbing kimchi, eating it with his fingers, calling me a bitch, trying to take my phone while I recorded him drunk. I told him to leave again, he refused pushing a guest going to the bathroom at one point. It took everything to restrain myself from beating his ass.
”You’re a girl,” he slurred.
”And you’re 4’2, someone get him out of here before I fuck him up,” all the thieves in K-Town know my schedule. I’m literally security, I’ve kicked many a people out. He just started working this shift, he didn’t know better.
Guillermo saw me, a server, taking shots with one of my regulars, a Chinese mob boss, the day before. He took this as a green light to get lit. Pardon me, you’re a line cook, in no world is you getting wasted while working with fire acceptable. Furthermore I make us money drinking with guests, you lose us money. Lastly, the hierarchy of restaurants is: bartender, server, busboy, hostess, line cook. Know your place.
At some point Guillermo sits down, Mo the male server goes over to him. I call the cops. While this is happening Tomas starts ringing the bell over and over, too drunk to realize how dead serious I was. Mind you, I already dragged his delusional rotund ass when Pedro was fired. In his head he really thought I had a crush on him, I literally said “I deal with celebrities, but I have a crush on short, fat, sloppy Tomas, the broke line cook, the drunk. That’s why I stopped joking with you, but you’re too stupid to notice. I’m gonna learn you.”
The cops show up immediately, Guillermo starts getting handsy. “Don’t get tough with me boy,” one cop says yoking him up. If you ever want to defund the police live in New York City, work in K-Town. 9/11 is the oxygen we breathe, essential. Hold them accountable sure, but get rid of them? Absolutely not.
I notice he has an apple soju, I tell the cops he stole it. He places it in the inner pocket of his denim jacket, where he also has a steak knife. They give it back to me. At that point Mo tells me he gave him the soju, because he was scared and just wanted to get him out of his face…he wasn’t in your face, you went over and asked him what he wanted.
”You’re a foot taller than him, why the fuck would you give him more alcohol when he’s in my face getting violent with people?” You could be many things in New York City, except a punk bitch. All respect I had for him vanished. Not only did you disrespect me, by adding to the problem, you were a scaredy cat and idiotic. Absolutely nothing he would say could justify his stupidity. He hasn’t been here long, but was far too comfortable, too quickly. Bro I’m the only girl on the shift, you’re a grown ass man at 6 feet…how you look?
I let Mo rest knowing he has a second job and this would be a 16 hour day for him, this is how he repays me? When I could have asked to get you cut from the shift entirely; I can do it by myself.
Thank the good lord some of my rougher regulars weren’t there, he would have been beaten to a pulp.
Upon seeing Guillermo escorted out by the cops, everyone realized I’m not fucking joking. I’m your co-worker, not your friend and this isn’t a playground, it’s a business. I’ve never clocked out early, but that day I did after tipping myself out. Tbh no one should have received tip, I made all of it. I let the manager know I’m out. That I’ve worked for Danny Meyer, David Rabin and Serge Becker, that none of them would fire a cook they’ve never seen work without consulting the staff that did work with them. The chef is a joke, I watched Chef Andre at Miss Lily’s go from a nobody to winning Chopped multiple times. There are levels. Who the fuck is he? His menu contributions have been lackluster (he’s new): the old pajeon recipe was better, the tteokbokki is too sweet, people prefer the lettuce with the bossom and the boyang kori tang was better with the clear broth, aesthetically and palate wise. It use to sell out, now people barely order it. His food lacks balance. He makes decisions out of ego, I make them out of what’s best for the business.
Yesterday the chef decided to oversee the kitchen for a few hours, since Tomas the drunk was still employed. Unapologetic this entire idiot made matters worse. The busboy took a tables order attempting to help me, he made a mistake and ended up giving them another tables seolleong tang. Misunderstanding them he thought they ordered three, when they’d actually asked for a sundubu. Having already started eating it I informed the kitchen of the mishap. Rather than make another, the chef physically harassed me, following me, telling me to take the soup from the table and give it to the waiting guest. I said absolutely not, over my dead body would I take a partially eaten soup to a new table. That’s when I knew he’s whacked. This continued for ten minutes.
”In the the time you’ve taken to argue she could have gotten her soup. I need a seollong tang.”
”You crazy, I chef. Get the fuck out of here or I’ll call the cops.”
”You’re gonna do this whole shift by yourself? You need to go back to the kitchen, I need a seolleong tang.”
”I chef, I tell boss. Get the fuck out.”
”Go ahead, because you need to convince me not to sue you. You need to learn the law. You’re literally gonna make the guest wait for one soup?”
He continued to follow me, telling me to leave. I said make me. You need to go back to the kitchen and make that soup.
“What your problem?”
“You’re my problem. Four times you’ve left me with no cook. I’ve never had that happen before, ever, at any restaurant. I tell you not to fire my best cook and you leave me with two drunks, after a sexual harassment complaint endangering the entire staff. You need to go back to the kitchen.”
Having already explained everything to my tables, they asked the chef to go. No one was on his side, which he thought would be the case, because they too were Korean. He finally got the fuck out of my face. I thanked everyone.
The entirety of this negative interaction I’d been messaging the manager, informing him I’m leaning towards suing for retaliation. His actions were inappropriate. I’m assuming the manger explained this to him in Korean, because he finally shut the fuck up after being dragged in front of his kitchen staff. Know the law.
A job is a contract between employee and employer, not a dictatorship. It costs to be the boss, because of the chef’s ignorance of the law and ego I can sue the owner. You received a written complaint about sexual harassment, with photo evidence and behaved in a retaliatory manner with elements of racism. You don’t feel bad for what you put the staff through, you just want to be right. You then assumed the guests would defend you, because I’m black and you’re all Korean. A legal liability, asking to be sued.
Curtain up, is one of Danny Meyers hospitality rules. Meaning when you’re at work you remain professional. Leave your problems at the door for business sake, which the chef did not do with his emotional outburst.
Taking care of each other is his first tenet of hospitality, which I did by protecting the business and staff. Also by being understanding of the busboys mistake, he was trying to be helpful and isn’t fluent in English. The next tenet is taking care of the customer, something the chef didn’t do when berating me, rather than get the guest a fresh soup.
Working for USHG is militant, but for that I’m grateful. It taught me there’s a time and a place for business vs. pleasure, to keep my cool, to enhance the guest experience, to problem solve. For me to get angry in a professional setting takes a LOT. These are lessons that go beyond the service industry. It’s given me an incredible work ethic, as well as discipline. I wish I could say the same for my peers. Know the law, it can change your life.
Guillermo is fired and I booked a flight to join my friend for a mini gate away . I’ll be spending the weekend in one of favorite places a few weeks from now. I know rat soup happened due to me, but I don’t get paid enough for this, nor do I need this job anymore. I do it for everyone else, it’s time to start doing things for me and my mental health. Via: Test Kitchen