Appointing a new chef is an exciting time for any restaurant or hotel. Your establishment’s reputation is often tightly bound to the head chef; a successful appointment can bring admirers of their previous work into the restaurant and increase your customer base.
Great chefs are often as selective with where they work as they are with the ingredients they use and their presentation.
Appointing a talented chef is one thing, but getting them to stay and develop with your business is another. Many of the best chefs have similar professional stipulations, and if your organisation fail to provide them, you can find yourself in the unenviable position of advertising their job again, much sooner than you would have liked.
So, what are the specific things that great chefs are looking to get out of their job?
A Focus on High-Quality, Local Produce
Great chefs are obsessed with ingredients. To produce the highest standard of food, your establishment needs to have a close relationship with local suppliers which manifests in a delightful, tasty and seasonal menu.
When a restaurant is more interested in saving costs rather than the standard of food they produce, this is never going to be good for business in the long-run. Your chef should be confident that your establishment dedicates itself to creating top-quality food from great local ingredients.
To Be Creative
Speaking of menus – how much autonomy will your chef have in the kitchen? No chef wants to hear ‘but this is how we’ve always served it’ when they have a new idea about presentation methods, or when they want to make changes or additions to the menu.
When a great chef feels creatively stifled in their kitchen, it won’t be long before they move to somewhere where they can make better use of their artistic skills.
A Supportive Team
In the kitchen, the strength of your team is paramount. If you continue to hire commis chefs and CDP’s who lack the same drive and ambition as your head chef, this will lead to conflict in the kitchen, and ultimately, the standard will drop.
Every kitchen employee understands how much of an effect it has on everyone when a team member is missing, or several aren’t pulling their weight. Top chefs will not stand for substandard efforts in their kitchen, so make sure you only hire staff who you are confident have an excellent work ethic and a desire to learn; which brings me on to my next point.
To Teach Others
Good chefs love to share their knowledge, and you will often find them teaching their team how to soft-boil an egg to perfection, the quickest way to chop spring onions or the secrets of their home-made chutney, whenever they have a spare minute.
Chef knowledge is passed down directly through the ranks; excellent chefs are directly influenced by the chef who taught them one-to-one, and this desire to teach is what keeps the industry alive and thriving.
Does your chef have enough time, and a willing team underneath them, to be able to pass on their culinary expertise? A kitchen where learning is not encouraged is a big turn-off for great chefs, so if you want to get them to stay, make sure it is a focus for your restaurant team.
Being Managed Effectively
Many hospitality managers fall into the trap of believing that the head chef knows best – in every situation. Yes, the head chef usually has a strong influence on the establishment and the team, but this does not mean that they should have the final say on everything; they too need to be managed.
Your head chef will respect you much more if you manage them justly and effectively, by giving them the respect they deserve, but for them to also know that they are part of the bigger picture and that there is a robust management system in place throughout the whole organisation.
To Be Developed
Every great chef knows that continuous learning is the way to keep progressing. Just because your head chef has a list of prestigious accolades under their belt, that does not mean that they have nothing left to learn.
Discuss continuing professional development (CPD) with your chef. Ask them if there are any areas they would like to focus their development on, send them on training courses and encourage them to attend college talks, seminars, and industry events and conferences like the new Public Sector Catering Expo, which takes place in Telford.
How many of these areas are you confident that you are currently providing for your head chef and their team?
Your chefs are the backbone of your business, and attracting and retaining great chefs should be your number one priority if you want success and longevity.
If you have struggled to appoint chefs who align with your company and who want to stay and develop, this could indicate a weakness in your hiring process or even your company culture. If you need help from an expert recruiter on first how to recognise the kind of chefs that will thrive in your kitchen, and then on locating them, get in touch with us today, and one of our consultants will get back to you within the hour.
We are expert recruiters in the catering and hospitality industry with over 28 years in business, placing the best candidates in their perfect roles with an obsessive attention to detail.
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We specialise in roles in Birmingham, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire.