Restaurant owners know that every single employee plays a key role in handling or assisting one of many important functions of the business. The front-of-the-house staff like billers, bartenders, waiters, captains or even the valets and doormen have the client-facing roles. Their job is to make sure that the customers have a worthy experience and are provided needed assistance. The back-of-the-house staff are the restaurant chefs, cooks, cleaning staff and managers. This part of the restaurant staff is of utmost importance. It is in the kitchen where food is prepared, plated and sent out to the customer. If there is any lack in quality of kitchen equipment, raw material, inventory or even trained staff, then it directly affects the performance of the restaurant in the market.
For first-time restaurant owners, hiring a chef and managing him could be a difficult task. All new restaurants have their own themes. The owners have their own vision and mission for the restaurant, ideation for the menu that would be served a staff protocol and a business strategy which would be followed for the success of the restaurant. For this, every single staff needs to be carefully screened, picked and regularly trained.
And so, to help restaurant owners, this blog is a guide to hiring a great chef for your restaurant.
Difference between Chefs and Cooks
The first and foremost thing that needs to be understood is the difference between your restaurant chefs and restaurant cooks. Restaurant chefs are the head of kitchens. Their task is to participate in the menu design and create unique and innovative recipes for the restaurant. Whereas the role of restaurant cooks is to assist the chefs. Their work involves following the recipes created by the chefs and following kitchen protocols to maintain consistency of quality service and food.
Types of Restaurant Chefs
1. Head Chef
Head chefs, also known as the executive chefs, is the main head of all chefs and cooks in the kitchen. He/she works alongside the owner in creating or updating the restaurant menu. The task of training the other chefs, managing the kitchen, and acquiring vendors and suppliers is all done by the head chef.
A person who has formal training and substantial experience in managing the kitchen and creating an interesting menu can be made the head chef. It is the head chef’s task to assist in hiring and training other kitchen staff.
2. Sous Chef
The sous chef is the second in command in the kitchen. He/she works directly under the head chef and maintains the chain of command in their absence. Just like the head chef, they are also involved in the training and assessment of kitchen staff. It is their task to plan the plating of the dishes, assist with any new changes, and regulate discipline and time management in the kitchen.
3. Pastry Chef
If a restaurant serves baked items, it is likely that those pastries, bread and desserts are made by a Pastry Chef. The role of the pastry chef is to create an innovative dessert menu and execute it to perfection. Just like head chefs and sous chefs, pastry chefs to are trained and have years of experience through which they are experts in knowing the sweet tooth and taste pallet of all kinds of customers.
4. Sauce Chef
Sauce chefs are responsible for creating the perfect gravies and sauces for the restaurant. They are experts in sautéing food and creating gravies which enhance the taste.
How To Hire A Restaurant Chef?
Restaurant owners employ different techniques for hiring their chefs. It all depends on how creative they are, how dedicated they are to their work and most importantly the taste of their food. But here are a few points you need to know before hiring your chef.
1. Credits and Qualification
There are many national and international hospitality courses which train and produce excellent chefs. These students are industry trained and know how to manage the kitchen and help the owner manage the business. Such candidates don’t need extensive training. They already have a knack for creating an exclusive menu and are motivated to be innovative.
Being said that, it is not important that only these professional qualified chefs are ideal to manage the kitchen. Along with the qualification, what also matters is their experience. A chef working for 3 years with different kinds of restaurant types and models, is still a well-experienced chef than a chef school fresher. The idea here is to understand what candidate ads value to your restaurant. Cooking isn’t just about plating delicious meals and serving them. Like every business, the owner and the chef have to work hand-in-hand for the growth of the business. If the chef fails to understand the vision of the owner, then their synergy fails and affects the business.
2. Test Their Skills
During the rush hours, not the dine-in but the kitchen is the most chaotic space in the restaurant. Inside the kitchen, all hands are on the deck to prepare the best quality meal and serve the customers on time. There is a lot of heat (literally) and pressure on the kitchen staff. And so, being able to work in such an environment and being able to handle and command the staff needs a lot of skill and quick thinking. Before hiring, the owner should make sure that the candidates are competent enough to manage the kitchen by themselves and even work well as a subordinate to other chefs.
The main task of a chef is to prepare food. And so, to check the candidate’s creativity and cooking skills, the owner can give them tasks to prepare their signature dishes or create a unique dish with provided items. With this, the owner can know the potential of the candidate and their dedication to designated tasks.
3. Know Their Process
The kitchen needs to be the most sorted and cleanest place in the kitchen. And ironically, it often becomes the messiest and most chaotic place during functioning hours. It is the duty of kitchen staff to keep the cooking stations clean and maintain hygiene. Usually, the chefs who are either students of chef schools or are industry trained are well aware of how to maintain the hygiene protocol. But still, the owner should convey the restaurant’s protocols and standards to the candidate and check their efficiency in maintaining it.
Every chef has his/her own creative process. When applying for the roles, they might have their own feedback on the menu. The responsibility of giving creative freedom falls in the hands of the owner. A way to do this would be by conducting a menu tasting session. This helps get a new professional perspective on the menu. It might happen that the dish the owner considers the bestseller, might lack something that can be improved. This opinion matters a lot in improving all over the performance of the restaurant.
Also, the kitchen staff needs to work under contained time and in harmony with each other. The sauce chef should have the gravy ready before the cooks can prepare the meal. The party chef should be well aware of the number of desserts he/she is to prepare. And the head chef should have full knowledge of each and every staff member’s duties for the day and the inventory records. To help the kitchen staff manage the orders and inventory efficiently, the restaurant should use a PoS management system. The PoS keep track of all inventory which can be assessed in a detailed report provided by the PoS itself. For managing the KOTs, the kitchen should have a KDS device which keeps tabs on all the running, served and pending customer orders in real time.
The trained staff is the most important asset of the restaurant. If your chefs are well-trained and have the dedication to providing the best experience to the customers, then you would create a buzz in the market.
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