Hiring and firing employees, regardless of industry, are never fun.


In restaurants, food catering businesses and food establishments, chefs are prime and critical positions that any shift involving their employments can significantly affect the business.

If you find yourself in a position of needing to replace your current chef regardless of nature, particularly your executive chef, you should know what you are risking.  

Here are some potential problems you may face and what considerations to take:


1. Losing recipes


Many chefs wonder how much ownership they have with the recipes they create or developed with the restaurant owners. Can they take it with them when they leave for new employment or if they want to venture on their own?

This question should be at the forefront of your mind, as well. Can your chef take with him all the recipes created and developed while employed by you? 

Have a read about, up to what effect can recipes be “legally protected” here in Australia – Recipes: Legal Protection. Laws are sometimes confusing as they have a way of being directly indirect ( if you know what I mean). The courts don’t necessarily consider food as intellectual property. Recipes are considered functional – meaning they are a process, system or procedure- and copyright does not extend to those things. At least at this time of writing, copyrighting cannot stop someone from recreating the same food. If the recipe(s) in question is/are considered as cornerstone recipe(s) of your restaurant, it can be threatening. You may find yourself without a chef and recipes, while still negotiating employment with the next chef you hire. 


2. Losing one or more staff


The leaving chef could take with him ( or willingly leave with him) one or two team members. You can never guarantee where someone’s loyalty lies. Consider if this scenario is a possibility in your situation and be on alert.


3. Food quality can suffer


There is a risk of food quality suffering due to having a new person handling a dish. There is always a transition period for new staff to get familiar with the kitchen and specific food preparation. You may get lucky and hire someone who can quickly adapt to your kitchen’s ecosystem, but there’s also a chance that you may not. 


4. Speed of food preparation slows


Just as food quality can suffer, how fast the food reaches your guest’s table can be affected too. Restaurant kitchens are divided by stations. One complete order of a guest or even one dish can involve several stations. The weakest part of your kitchen chain is potentially the newest one. 


5. Increase in food costs and wastes 


Food costs and waste costs may increase as a result of lower food quality and decreased preparation speed.


6.Losing patrons


This is the endgame that business owners fear. Patrons equate to profit so when your business loses customers; you can predict that loss of sales and profits will follow. As a result of the dissatisfaction in food quality and speed in preparation, you may lose your patrons’ business to your competition.

Any of these issues could do severe damage to your restaurant or food business.

So before you make that decision, here’s what to consider:


1. A chef employment contract with clearly defined terms


As a restaurant owner or operator, you need to protect your business and your team. An employment agreement is a document that does so. Not only does it defines compensation but it defines the rights, restrictions and responsibilities of an employee. Check out this post from Bizfluent to guide you on establishing an employment contract with your chef. 


2. Hire short temp-hire chefs from reputable chef staffing agencies


Short term hire chefs are a great solution to urgent kitchen staffing needs. You can secure a hire for a particular duration that you need, such as during high volume hours or in case of emergency leaves. And with reputable chef staffing agencies such as Anytime Chefs, you are guaranteed skilled professional chefs matched to the kind of service you require. Anytime Chefs also assist hospitality business owners in looking for chefs permanently. 


3. Establish a healthy dialogue with the rest of your staff


Talk to the rest of your staff. Create an open dialogue where both parties (you and your team) can healthily discuss active and potential kitchen issues. Communication can help shed light on some concerns that you may not be aware of and create resolutions due to that. As a result, you may be able to determine whether you can promote someone to fill the position or watch out for possibly more than one vacancy in your kitchen.


4. Review your training systems 


Training is a never-ending process at the heart of every business who wants to excel and continue to provide consistent quality service to their guests. Review your existing training system and assess if it will give the most efficient way to encourage productivity and harnessing skill. Can you identify a potential mentor or buddy? 

Provide continued support for new hires even beyond the usual onboarding and orientation. Support can be in the form of frequent checking to ensure that they can keep up with the work demands healthily. 


RELATED READ: 5 Cross-Training Tips To Resolve Your Staffing Problems


In Summary:

Do not take it lightly when you decide to replace your chef. Often, the most practical decision is one where heated emotions are set aside. Imagine what your business situation will be as an aftermath of that decision. Even if you part with your chef amicably, there is still a chance that the transition period could cause severe repercussions for your restaurant’s bottom line and reputation.  Consider all your options, weigh them out, discuss with a trusted individual if needed, review and improve your systems to ensure that you are prepared for any possibilities. 


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,

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