When hiring a chef you shouldn’t just focus on their ability to cook. While the capacity to make high-quality dishes is crucial for any chef there are many other skills you should factor in when looking for the ideal candidate.

Being able to run a kitchen and help you increase profits by strengthening your brand is a core factor, but you should also concentrate on what your candidate can bring to the table in terms of skills after you decide they can cook.

Start with Cooking Skills

Starting off the first skill you are after will be of course their ability to cook. The main responsibilities you will be looking for will be the capability to create menus that will attract customers, keep cost levels down and teach kitchen staff how to cook the required dishes.  Things to ask – Where the chef learned to cook, review their work history and discuss any awards or achievements. Who Inspires them in terms of cooking, thought process in creating dishes and if they are a member of any professional associations.

Management Skills

Once you have figured out the chef’s technical abilities enquire to how they would use it in a business setting.  Talk about their experience in creating menus to develop your brand, managing food costs along with purchasing inventory and how they would increase sales by creating daily specials.

Discover how they organize their kitchen through hiring, training & scheduling. Ask if they have ever handled a budget and how they would minimize spoilage and of their knowledge around health and safety. Finish it off by asking how they would operate the running of the kitchen if they were to fall ill or if they had annual leave.

Discuss Work Experience

Discuss previous employers and work experience gives you an opportunity to get to know how the chef works in both positive and negative situations. Ask them why they are leaving their current role and what would be their dream work situation would be. The idea is to look for red flags that may suggest the unwillingness to carry out certain tasks and any negativity towards past employers or roles that would suggest they may not fit into your company.

Ask the chef about their long-term plans and if they would like to own their own restaurant someday. There is nothing wrong with having their own plans but try to figure out if they are just using the role as a short-term stepping stone.

Require a Cooking Demo

Now that you have figured out the chef’s qualification, previous experience, ability, and skill have them prepare a dish from your menu or let them be creative and ask them to create a dish that would complement your menu. Invite various staff members of your team to try the dishes so you can get additional feedback. Then task them with what they would think the approximate food costs of each dish would be and also what price they would set for them.

Additional Questions To Ask :

  • What are your 5-year goals?
  • What do you want to learn in the next 5 years?
  • Do you have a current food hygiene certificate?, if so which level is it?
  • Do you have a cooking qualification?, if not are you looking to do one here (ie NVQ)
  • Do you have a first aid certificate and is it in date?
  • What is COSHH?
  • What is HACCP?
  • What do you want to learn in the future?
  • Ask the candidate a couple of questions about ingredients or dishes, base these 2-3 questions on the style of food you do.
  • Ask them a technical question, again base this on your style of cooking.
  • If they will need to help with menu design: How would you plan a menu, what are the key elements you need to look for in a good menu design?
  • When you design a menu, what are the 4 key things you think about?
  • What would you do if someone called in sick?
  • If your rota is looking tight, what would you do?
  • when you write a rota, what things do you think about?
  •  Name 5 different cuts of beef
  • What temperature should fresh food items be correctly stored at?
  • If a fire breaks out in the kitchen, what is the first thing you should do?
  • What is your favorite cuisine to cook?
  • What is your favorite wine?