As a chef for hire based in Perth, I have met and worked with startup companies or newly established businesses in launching their events.

Working closely with clients has sometimes made me privy to stories of event horrors, be it their own from past events or someone from their industry. Stories that let’s say are the stuff of nightmares for any event planner or organiser! Often, the issues revolve around food or food service.

I can tell you that no matter how thoroughly planned any events are, there will always be chances of glitches that will disrupt the whole flow of an event. And I use the word “chances” because they may or may not happen. Either these mishaps get controlled, or best, they get prevented!

So, with those insights, I’m going to suggest what you should consider when hiring a chef. These suggestions not only apply when looking for someone to lead your restaurant’s kitchen team. You can refer to these tips as well when choosing a personal chef, or when needing short-term chefs for your next event, whether it is for your business, client lunches, your wife’s birthday party, or your daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner, etc.

So here are five things to look for when hiring chefs for your restaurant, for yourself or your next event.

1. The Right Temperament

As the leading personality in the kitchen, the chef will need to prepare food, maintain inventory, manage staff, and much more while remaining calm under intense pressure.

But what is the right temperament?

As individuals, we are all entitled to having our personalities. We can all be fiery, quirky, quiet or fun-loving! But on the job, a chef needs to be able to communicate his thoughts effectively. If required, being stern can help. Just bear in mind that nobody wants to come to work to be humiliated and always corrected for simple mistakes. A competent chef will command respect from his team. And that’s what you want – a chef who is respected, not feared.

Workdays in restaurants are dynamic and ever-changing. There are days when you feel that you have everything planned out and executed correctly and there will be days when everything goes wrong. How your chef handles these different scenarios will also dictate how your staff will respond. A calm and collected chef will help keep stress lower and things running smoothly on very stressful days. You need a chef who could react sensibly and think on his toes to provide an immediate solution.

2. Detail Oriented

A chef’s responsibilities include writing or contributing menus and managing inventories. He has to work together with the restaurant owner in efficiently managing costs and profits. It is frustrating to an owner to have a chef who frequently over-orders perishable raw materials because he didn’t review the inventory correctly.

3. Quality

A great chef can recognise excellence instantly. An eye for quality of food will enable him to quickly spot the freshness of ingredients as well as doing beautiful, artful, clean plating in food. Apart from food, a great chef will rapidly also identify which of his staff can perform with quality as well. Is his team purposeful in their movements? Are his staff members not wasteful with ingredients? Are they watchful with the right cooking time so as not to burn or serve raw food?

4. Knowledge, Experience and Philosophies

Now, this depends on the one hiring.

A chef who graduated from a reputable culinary school will have the advantage to have learned a wide array of cuisine, including ultra-sophisticated ones. A chef who has had many years of experience has the advantage of being familiar with the kitchen atmosphere and will most likely, have the overall attitude in a kitchen’s stressful environment.

But know this – A schooled chef may have a bit more knowledge, especially in international cuisine but if he doesn’t have working experience from at least five different restaurants, he might not develop the right attitude and right personality to counter and anticipate problems! It doesn’t matter how much you learn from school – schools never fully teach this stuff! Experience does a better job at this! Which is why for me, if given a choice between the two, it is much better to hire a chef with more years and a variety of working experience. Someone who has worked in different restaurants displays a better overall attitude for the job.

Beyond these two requirements, a chef needs to have a similar view with the owner in his definition of excellent quality service! A chef who has high standards in customer service and the experience in culinary excellence to back it up will help create a superb dining experience for your guests.

5. Technology Know-how

With the practicality and innovation that technology offers, a chef should also have essential computer skills to be able to adapt and improve service according to the times. There is now various software that a chef can use to help him monitor inventory, profit and loss as well as creating artful menu layouts or marketing strategies. Social media is available to help in marketing and establishing a restaurants’ image. And because the internet has become a go-to source of information, the ability to make the internet work for him and the business can help in creating improvements in the business overall.

Remember, a chef sets the standard and tone in a kitchen! Like any leader, a chef who embodies the right character and values will inspire those around him. This leadership will reflect on the staff attitude which will, in turn, resonate with the quality of food and service. And what we all want is quality food and service!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the rest of the holidays!

Ciao for now,

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