Editor’s note: Quitting Your Chef Job was originally published in March 2020 and most recently updated in May 2022.
Quitting your chef job in the right way can have a real impact on your future chef career. When you stop to think about it for a second, you’ll see how that’s an obvious fact. The restaurant industry is a close knit community.
It’s highly likely that you will meet and work with past work colleagues at places you work in the future. It’s important to manage personal reputation and not to have stories of sharp or dramatic exits follow you around as you carve out your chef career. You should aim to leave a job in the same way you would take it – by being professional and courteous throughout the process.
With this in mind we’ve put together a guide to quitting your chef job – smart dos and don’ts. Whether you’re quitting to take up a new chef job somewhere else, or just don’t feel able to stay put where you are, this guide will help!
Quitting your chef job – the smart dos
As a professional chef at whatever career stage you’re at not giving notice is NOT an option. It’s smart to
tell management before suppliers, as once the word is out the entire community will know before your boss. Tell management you are going to leave before colleagues. Give a month’s notice (or more) if you’re in a more senior level role. Give two weeks in a more junior role.
Give notice face-to-face
A formal resignation letter is very often required but resigning face-to-face with an accompanying letter or with a letter following will earn you more respect. Never give notice via email or resign over text message.
Quitting your chef job – before you leave
Deliver your best levels of work pre-departure. Try to avoid completely wandering off the job and turning in a sub par performance in your final weeks. Think of your reference!
It’s worth discussing your performance with your boss so you have a current sense of how your performance is perceived. A meeting like this also gives you a chance to correct any falsehoods around your performance, before you’ve left the building.
Also discuss references with your boss. It’s better to know if they will act as a reference for you ahead of leaving. If they don’t agree to be a referee, this gives you a chance to identify others at work who are willing to provide a reference.
Saying goodbye and thanks
Say goodbye to direct colleagues, but also the wider team. Thank your employers for the opportunity to be part of their kitchen.
Don’t poach your current colleagues
Everyone has people they would like to work with again, but if you are in a supervisory position poaching people from your current employer is not acceptable. You may well have a clause in your current contract that legally prohibits you from doing this, even if you wanted to lure colleagues away.
Quitting your chef job – train your successor
If you know well in advance that you plan to leave, you should start to think about how another member of the team can step up and take on your role when you move on.
Don’t lose touch
Take email addresses and phone numbers when you go and connect on LinkedIn.
Quitting your chef job – the smart don’ts
Don’t leave or quit:
– When stressed or angry
– Just to make a point
– On bad terms.
Always sleep on your decision to make sure it’s the right one. Wait until you can give your resignation calmly.
Avoid high drama
Your departure is another business event for your employer, not your moment in the limelight.
Quitting your chef job – don’t poison the well
Remember your workplace is the source of income for a number of other people. Don’t make it harder for them by lobbying against your boss.
Don’t trash talk your boss!
This will and does always come back to haunt you. Don’t take things with you that belong to the restaurant. This goes beyond the inventory. The recipe books are theirs, not yours, and the guest database or reservations book is absolutely off limits.
Quitting your chef job – don’t try to get even
Whatever “it” was, move on and leave it behind. You have a future, and the past shouldn’t get in the way.
If you’re looking to move on don’t forget to update your chef’s profile. And be sure to update your job seeking documents and social media presence.