Fast food outlets with straightforward menus don’t need a chef with a culinary degree but fine dining establishments certainly do, as their complex menus and meal presentations require a professional to manage the quality of the menu. An executive chef then, in charge of all kitchen operations, is your most important hire. Not only does the chef have to be au fait with every stage of the cooking process and the kitchen equipment but he or she also has to be able to train staff, oversee the cooking processes and help develop menus and marketing initiatives.
INTERVIEWING A NEW CHEF
You need to consider the following when interviewing candidates for this important role:
Shared Outlook To create a unique, enjoyable dining experience for your patrons, you need to hire someone who shares your philosophy on customer service and who understands your concept.
Qualifications Check the potential candidate’s background. Make sure they attended a reputable culinary school and that they are equipped to prepare foods that fit your concept.
Know-how When verifying the candidate’s references, ensure your potential chef is able to manage the volume of orders expected during a typical rush.
Leadership Skills Your chef is the captain of your kitchen team. You don’t want a tyrant in your kitchen but a good chef needs to be confident and able to train and supervise others.
Cooking Skills Qualifications and leadership skills are all very well but make sure that your candidates can actually cook to your required standard of quality. The simplest way to do this is to give each candidate the same menu item to prepare. You will quickly discover who isn’t up to scratch. Also, in the restaurant business speed and consistency are essential, especially when preparing large quantities of food. Be sure that your final choice when hiring has fast and efficient cooking methods and is able to deliver a consistent product every time.
Cost Optimisation An experienced chef is able to produce an excellent meal without breaking the bank. Give your candidates different food cost scenarios and see what dishes they can create for a sale price that won’t erode your margin or turn away pennywise patrons.
KEEPING YOUR NEW CHEF HAPPY
Finding the right chef for your establishment takes time and effort so once you have found your superstar, you need to work at retaining him or her.
Menu Development Work with your new chef to develop menu items that fit the chef’s expertise and the restaurant’s concept. This will allow your new chef to add his or her personal stamp on the establishment.
Team Loyalty Executive chefs often have their own sous chefs with whom they have worked previously. Allow your new chef to bring in some of his or her own people instead of having to train a bunch of apprentices from scratch. It will assist in the smooth running of your kitchen.
Incentive Plan Work out a bonus scheme letting your chef know how much you appreciate the new custom his or her expertise has brought into the restaurant.