When Hiring A Chef For Your Restaurant
Hiring a chef for your restaurant is not going to be as easy as you think it will be. An outstanding chef can demand a sizeable compensation package and may only be good at preparing outstanding dishes and be very poor at managing the kitchen. Finding one that can do both is the trick.
Chef schools are a good source for finding newly minted chefs, but they will rarely have any management experience. If you can continue to run the kitchen as the new chef learns the ropes of leading the staff, then this may be a possible solution. If you want someone to take over the kitchen from top to bottom, this is going to cost some money and your restaurant may be just a resume building job in the eyes of the newly hired chef. This is a sticky problem for a restaurant owner. If you are off the beaten track, this will make it harder to attract a really good chef, unless they are just tired of the rat race in the big city. Small towns are not a show place for a talented chef. If their intention is to build a reputation for future use, then your restaurant will not fill the bill.
Chef schools are expensive and are supposed to be a three year curriculum, but are often only a one year course before the student is offered a great opportunity with a big hotel or casino. This competition for these young people will make your offer more difficult to stand above the rest. There is such a demand for quality chefs and the supply is limited. Newly trained chefs can prepare great food, but they have no experience in running a kitchen or managing the staff. This part of a chef’s job takes time to learn and you will have to be the teacher of how to manage people, buy for the kitchen and plan for easily delivered meals. If you are not in an upscale area, then you will face the problem of the chef wanting to become known and your restaurant not allowing for that to happen. These people realize that there is a difference between being in the big leagues and playing in a small market. The other factor in finding a chef from these schools is the students are constantly offered jobs in restaurant chains and hotel chains. Your offer to them will have to be very competitive and enticing as to the freedom you may be able to offer compared with a chain operation. You still will not gain a chef with managerial experience.
There are websites that allow restaurant owners to post jobs for chefs. These sites are another possible source for finding a candidate for your business. The advantage to the owner of the restaurant is they can list the requirements of the job. Job requirements can eliminate some people who would not have qualified for your job. The chefs who do respond will have different levels of experience and capabilities. Running the kitchen, ordering the ingredients and being able to put out quality food are important elements for a solid chef. Imagination and food knowledge will also come in various levels. Finding a chef you can afford that can also do the job is going to be like trying on shoes. Some will fit well and some would never work out. Those that fit will need to be looked at as to working compatibility. A candidate may have all of the requirements and be very difficult to work with over time. This situation will not work out for the restaurant owner.
Structuring the pay to the chef can be worked out in many ways. Straight pay for hours is the obvious way to pay the chef. This may not work, as you cannot come up with enough pay under your current situation. Performance pay connected with a guarantee is one of the ways you may be able to compete with the big boys. Sales improvement is easy to calculate and is an obvious way to show growth of the restaurant.
A percentage of ownership for the right person may also be a way to get a really capable person. This also has the advantage of binding a quality chef to the operation. In the right situation this may offer the best option of all.
A contract between the owner and the chef is not unusual. The contract will detail exactly what the duties are and how they will be paid. Any really qualified person is going to demand that the agreement be put in writing so that both parties know what was agreed to between the owner and the chef.
Training of staff and education
A good chef will by example show the staff how to complete the work in the kitchen. He will know all aspects of the job and be able to show or demonstrate what he wants from the kitchen staff. If the chef is also a good teacher, you have a winner as this talent can be multiplied. Teaching the staff the correct way to run a kitchen will increase efficiency and lower cost. This will help the bottom line of the restaurant.
A chef that is worried about giving up his secrets is detrimental in the long run. You learn by doing. Asking questions and trying a new ways of doing things can find improvements. New specials are discovered this way all of the time in quality restaurants. Sharing knowledge and answering questions helps all involved grow. New restaurant dishes are the result of experimentation and trying out a new idea. If this is not done, the growth will be slow to non existent. Restaurants live on reputation and quality of food and service. The reputation is not a given and must be earned over time.
Finding a chef is not like hiring wait staff. Many people can serve food. A good chef must be looked for,
given reasons to join your restaurant and then compensated in a way that meets the competition. This will be a major expense to a restaurant that may or may not be covered by an increase in business. It could however give the owner more free time and not be such a slave to the business. Some owners would be happy with that trade off. Others want the talent of the chef to increase the sales and add to the bottom line.
Advertising on the internet and in larger city newspapers may be useful in getting some possible candidates. Chef schools could also be a source for chef for your business. The problem most restaurants have is the chefs are in demand and can be very difficult to hire. Their expense will not be small as their reputation or skill will be what you are hiring and not everyone can do the job. This accounts for the shortage of good chefs. Schools that teach are constantly raided for half trained chefs. This makes finding a chef you can hire and afford a problem that you may have to spend a lot of time doing. The chefs have the advantage at this time.
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