Like any business, surrounding yourself with the right people is a key to success. Just as any employer does, restaurateurs seek to hire staff members that can help in specific areas of their business.Perhaps its to improve staff performance, or grow a loyalty program, or maybe it’s to help design a restaurant menu that everyone talks about.
Some of the great restaurants we write about are chef owned and operated. Of course, there are other scenarios where the restaurant owner is not the person cooking the food. And since the reputation of the restaurant and its ability to attract and retain customers is at stake, it’s pretty important to have the right chef at the helm in your kitchen.
Today, we’re going to take a look at how to hire a chef. If you own or manage an upscale or fine dining restaurant, this information will be particularly relevant to you.
The best chefs aren’t just great with a knife, but also have a keen interest in all of the factors that drive your restaurant success.
Hire a chef that fits your needs
The top chef, or executive chef, has experience in running a kitchen, and often has a background not only in cooking, but in restaurant management, as well. After all, the word “chef” means chief in French, so your next chef has lead all of the other kitchen staff members.
Your ideal executive chef will have a combination of experience in the kitchen, good instincts, a list of glowing references, or at the very least, an impressive culinary education and the right attitude.
Here are a few of the talents your next chef must have, if you want he or she to completely take hold of the kitchen environment. Consider these skills while you’re trying to hire a chef.
- Menu preparation: The executive chef will be preparing the more complex dishes, so naturally menu creation should be part of the job. Allowing this freedom will also appease the chef, who will likely want this control.
- Ingredient selection: All the best chefs like to know not only the ingredients in their dishes, but where the ingredients come from and how they’re grown. Top chefs select organic, locally grown food that supports the community and allows for a unique flavor. Some chefs are even taking the harvesting of ingredients a bit further by going out and foraging the best of the local land. It’s for these reasons that executive chefs are often in charge of selecting and ordering the restaurant’s food.
- Staffing: Executive chefs choose the people they want supporting their operation, particularly those individuals who help prepare the food like the sous chef, sauté chef, roast chef, vegetable chef, station chef or pantry chef. Chefs may come into a new restaurant with hiring suggestions already in mind, and supporting their hiring decisions in encouraged is important because it bestows trust and allows them excel at the job.
How to hire a chef – The characteristics of a great chef
The best chefs aren’t just great with a knife, but also have a keen interest in other factors that drive your restaurant success.
Here’s our list of qualifications that your next chef should embody.
- Great cooking skills: It goes without saying that the food prepared by your next top chef should meet the standards you’d expect from your restaurant. In the hiring process, have each candidate develop and cook a dish for you. Act as if you’re dining at the restaurant and be critical of the food’s taste. Hopefully, the dish will “wow” you, so you can be completely confident with your next chef.
- Consistently creating high-quality dishes: Your chef must demonstrate his or her ability in every dish created. You will want to try a variety of meals prepared by a potential chef so you can make sure they’re consistently creating delicious meals.
- Experienced: Some situations may arise where you have the option of selecting a new chef who is fresh out of culinary school. Maybe this is the route you’d like to go. If it’s not, make sure there’s a strong background of cooking experience, and preferably head chef positions in other restaurants.
- Budget-minded: If your chef is selecting and purchasing all the ingredients used in your restaurant’s dishes, then you must make sure they can stay within allotted budgets, so you’re not losing money.
- Leadership: Your chef is in charge of everyone in the kitchen, including all of the other food preparers. You must have a chef who understands how to lead, and ultimately creates other leaders in the process. This is the only way your kitchen will run efficiently.
Have you ever had to hire a chef before? How was the process? Do you have any additional insight to share? If so, please do it here.