Chefsplaining - Anonymous

I admit it. I was stupid - I neglected my intuition at times and just believed. Truth be told, I needed to believe. I don't know how long I can use my crappy year as an explanation or excuse for things, but it was a reason. I'd had a shit year and I needed to get my life back, take charge and prove myself, to me. Of course, someone telling you that you are the person they would love to do this with was a big part; someone believing in you and your ability, someone wanting to build with you and trusting you. It did help me to feel better about it all and think that it was a good idea. The conditions I agreed to? I don't even want to admit to it. I was a royal fool.

Everything was a struggle. Even setting up the bank account was a process of eight weeks of me making repeated calls of frustration and swearing at the bank. I worked part-time to stay alive, while doing everything required to set up the company. He never understood how much time I invested, and accused me of not giving the restaurant and our own business my all.

When he gives speeches now, he stresses how much we’ve both invested. I am the only one losing money and I have lived on a £3 budget per day for almost 9 months. He has had holidays. I also had to set up all his accounts for the suppliers, and I am paying all the bills. 

He asks me for the food costs, but when I point out that there are ingredients missing on the costing of the dishes, he just dismisses it. 

He tells me that I can't just ‘pull prices out of my behind’, when he is the one setting the final price.

He tells me that I am lying and hiding things from him, because I can't keep up with the accounts. 

He says that I never tell him anything about them, at the same time as saying that he doesn’t want to deal with it.

Every day something breaks down. He expects me to fix it.

He has ‘briefings’ explaining to me and my (female) FOH staff how to run service from our side. It doesn't matter that he contradicts himself when talking. Every day he tells me how to do my job. Every aspect of my job.

One time, I missed sending in the paperwork to one of my suppliers for wine, because I was dealing with some of his admin as well as finding staff, trying to figure out the accounts and stressing about opening a restaurant. He still wonders why the wine producers he introduced me to are not on the list and thinks I am ungrateful. Wanna take a guess which supplier they belong to?

Of course, he comes in later and he also has Sundays and Mondays off. I work Mondays with admin, paying bills and trying to get things sorted that I can't finish when I get interrupted during the day, because he has issues that need to be solved. 

My favourite part is that every time someone he knows, his family or his girlfriend, have been in, he comes back with complaints they made and how outraged they were over how I conducted my job or how service is done (obviously the food is spot-on and that is the only reason people are coming in…). 

He complains that his family and friends have been in several times, while mine only once. Never mind that my friends work in the industry and hence work evenings, and are probably also not quite as well paid as his.

I could have spoken up earlier. I could have challenged him. Had I known what would happen further down the line, maybe I would not be in this position. May I introduce myself again? I'm stupidity. But I am also not known for being a meek pussycat and having no claws to protect myself. There is something broken in me and he did that to me. Granted, I did allow it. But just because you turn the other cheek, doesn't mean you have to take a hit. 

We used to have a beautiful friendship and that’s why I believed in this. I love service and I was proud to be owning my own restaurant. Now every day is painful and I dread seeing him approaching work. I believed he was stressed and worried, but now I know that he is just a bully. I don't feel sorry for myself. The only thing for me to do now is try to get out of this toxic and verbally abusive relationship. 

I learned my lesson the hard way. But I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who experiences this type of behaviour. It's not okay just because he is a man or a chef or under pressure and stress. It is never ok to treat other people like this. 

Thanks for reading about my experience. Let's try to help each other when we find ourselves in these kind of situations and conditions. One day we will change it.

Natalia Ribbe