Firing Squad: Why Los Angeles Chefs Let People Go

Chef Los Angeles

Fabio Viviani has a friendly demeanor, but still expects a strong work ethic in his kitchens.

At Pebble Beach Food & Wine, I asked six Los Angeles chefs a cautionary question: “The last person that you fired, what did they do, or not do, to warrant it?” Why they’re firing people might surprise you.

Ben Ford (Ford’s Filling Station)

For me, it usually has to do with culture, not preserving the culture. Not everybody has the right to work in my restaurant, as far as that’s concerned. That has to do more with passion than it has to do with ability. That has more to do with acceptance of my philosophies, than it does of being perfect every day. If anybody ever gets fired, it usually has to do with those things. We take care of each other. If I find somebody who doesn’t take care of each other, if they’re not reciprocal in learning, not part of the program, they’re usually out. You never want to be the guy that’s not doing their job in my kitchen.

Duff Goldman (Duff’s Cakemix)

The last guy I fired basically forgot that what we’re in the business of is making people smile. He lost sight of the fact that we get paid to give people pleasure. That sounded dirty, but we get paid to make people smile, and make people happy, and this guy decided he didn’t want to do that anymore.

Walter Manzke (Republique)

Generally, 99% of the time, I don’t fire people. They fire themselves. They usually figure that out on their own. They don’t fit in. I have a staff that’s very tight. We’re very hard working. We’re such a strong team. When somebody’s not performing, and they don’t get it, and they don’t fit in, they usually just leave. At about the time I’m thinking of firing them, they usually tell me they’re leaving…So far, I haven’t fired anyone at Republique. I’ve had a couple people leave who I probably would have fired, but they left.



Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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