Advice on best way to find a Chef Partner

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by floridavenue, Aug 31, 2011.

  1. floridavenue

    floridavenue

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    Hello,

    I am an owner and operator of multiple venues consisiting of bars, nightclubs and wine bars in Orlando Florida who has recently decided to venture into building a full service wine bar, within a complex of the above venues. I am looking for advice or direction on finding a partner chef. Trade publications, culinary schools or craigs list all seem valid avenues, but I want to work smart to find the right fit. I learned long ago to ask the right questions to the right people, so here I am. 

    The set up is rather simple. There will be a kitchen provided as well as full support with all front of house and back of house. No investment is needed. Just a hard worker to come in and put together a program for the group and themselves. There will be a weekly draw for costs and a monthly distibution from the net, which will be split according to the partnership agreement.

    Any sugguestions on how to locate a good parter?

    Any suggestions on the above partnership structure (this is a 40k foot high synopsis)?

    Any thoughts on hiring a recommended student from Orlando Le Cordon Blue school and how to find that student?

    Any suggestion on the interviewing process?

    I know that is alot of "suggestions," so if you have a moment just choose the most obvious =)

    John
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Oh.

    Dear.

    (deleted).

    Uh, a "Chef" will usually design the kitchen to fit the theme of the place and to fit the menu.

    A Chef will have the connections to hire his own staff, and most prefer to do it this way anyway.. 

    No Idea what kind of partnership you have in mind, but from what it sounds like,it is short term.

    Programs are fine for computers, but kitchens need a leader and leadership.  Don't have one of those, and you have hell on your hands, costing you money every day.. 

    Culinary schools will yield you culinary school graduates. Yes they should know how to cook, but it is not guaranteed that they know how to run a kitchen or keep your costs in line.   What do you want with a culinary schoold graduate?  What are your expectations of them?

    Craigs list?  Caveat emporium and all that.

    Head hunters are what you should be looking for.  They will cost, but they can find you people who have a proven track record with running a kitchen--not cooks--but Chefs.

    Most successful start-ups usually have all the key people in place or "on hold" before any shovels hit the ground.  Usually these places are started by people with prior experience and have connections in the industry.   Experience is key to running a successful operation.

    Hope this helps
     
    flipflopgirl likes this.
  3. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Any reason why you're not wanting to treat your chef like a normal employee? Generally, you'd want to avoid partnership issues, especially where liquor licenses are involved. What if your partner has a felony? What if you need to get rid of him? I would not want to get involved with a partner unless I already had a good working relationship with him. It's a more serious union then marriage.
     
  4. cleverchef

    cleverchef

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    From what I understand, 95% of restaurants that went look'n for the chef after the establishment was built, go under with-in 2 years.

    I never could understand why investers would pour a ton of money, sometimes millions of $$ into a foodservice venture, and then don't even think about the chef or menu until the place is getting close to open. Most all of the successful restaurants had a chef as either the owner or a partner before the construction started.

    Unless you find the right person, you are in for a roller coaster ride of chefs.

    Also, you should probably get a good grand opening crowd, but that does not meen you will make profits the first year.

    Hope you can either keep this chef in a paycheck for a year or the chef you find is already financially secure.

    Good Luck
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    First remember this you and You are investing your money. The chef is investing his time and knowlege which to me would make it kind of equal. Sounds like to me you should hire a chef consultant to open place and do menues at the beginning then look to hire a working chef. if in fact the menu really requires a chef., for day to day of place. Meanwhile go around to operating wine bars and see what they are serving.Good Luck
     
  6. panini

    panini

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    ditto,

    I suggest you remove the word partnership from your vocabulary immediately.

    Check the statistical data on partnerships.

    I know I had to learn the hard way back when. I got away cheap 115k.

    If for some reason you go forward with an agreement. THE MOST IMPORTANTpart of a partnership agreement is how to disolve it.

    panini
     
  7. chrose

    chrose

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    That is post on. Exactly what I would say. My only difference is I lost less than Jeff, otherwise.... What starts out great can change as the personality that you knew when things were good can turn 180º when things go south even a little. Likewise things can turn 180º even if things go for the better.

    Yes remove the word "Partner" My sister would agree too, and that wasn't in the food biz. Same thing...
     
     
  8. el fuego

    el fuego

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    I had a "Partner" had to buy him out (including the legal fees and stress of a 3-1/2 year lawsuit) I paid over 3x what he should have received..you don't want to know how much, it makes me sick to think about it.  DO NOT get a partner.  Hire someone that is capable of taking over the business and if that person meets your expectations you can both succeed at what you set out to accomplish.  Put everything in writing, including the consequences of lackluster performance....  With a restaurant, it starts with "buz", that may be difficult to quantify but, in the end, isn't really about the bottom line $$?
     
  9. mid-chick

    mid-chick

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    I would hire your chef from a headhunter, specific to the business. If you are in no need of capital, you aren't in need of a partner/chef. Save yourself the headaches. If you know the scene where you are, you can put the word out....maybe make someone a better offer....many chefs are stolen:)
     
  10. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Getting a Partner is like a marriage, Divorce is always possible. If business is making money most of the time it will work . If business goes downhill one will blame the other and it won't .
     
  11. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The way you make money in this business is my controls. hire a Chef, pay them well, have them control food and labor cost with incentives. The Chef will be working long hrs compared to the other partners, put him on the payroll. ...................ChefBillyB
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2011
  12. foodpump

    foodpump

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    10 responses and the O.P. , Floridaavenue isn't responding.

    Can you respond to our advice?
     
  13. chefross

    chefross

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    I think you may have overwhelmed him.

    All of you have provided extremely professional expert advice to this guy for free.

    Experience is always the best teacher.

    Let's see if he responds.
     
  14. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Considering he has only 2 post, I agree.
     
  15. floridavenue

    floridavenue

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    Sorry guys for not replying quicker and yes a little overwhelmed, but taking it all in! So I immeidately realize that partner was a foolish word to use to professionals, it invokes bad thoughts on my end as well. The arrangement would better be characterized as a Joint Venture between two corporations severable unilaterally, by either, upon proper notice. I am experienced in creative business arrangements being in the bar business for over a decade and experiencing quite a few losses myself. I thought that the uniqueness of the offer may in essence "steal" a chef away that was looking to break out on his/her own with not much cost. The arrangement would be a two step process. The first step would entail hiring said Chef as an employee, on payroll (I am assuming my budgeted $800 week should suffice??) for a term of 90 day honeymoon. After this, if all goes well, I would set the Chef up with an LLC and we would enter a solid (I have a partner in another venue that is a corporate lawyer) JV agreeemnent, as detailed above. 

    Finding a student was a thought. I have a friend that did something similar and it worked out well, he was probably lucky. 

    I know this is a ton of detail. Just wanted you to know where my mind was. The venue is is not built yet. Construction just started. I have a few months but am just now hitting what seems to be the biggest deal.

    Thanks for all the advice! I do appreciate it. Any other comments as well, I will now check the posts daily =)

    J
     
  16. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Um, I'm not in Florida, I'm in California, and I don't know what you mean by "chef". I do know that to hire what I consider a chef, i.e. one who has the experience and knowledge to manage all aspects of the BOH and probably well acquainted with FOH, you're going to have to more than double your target pay, I'm talking about a 20-25 year veteran with at least 5-10 years as chef, maybe a sous chef in an exceptional case. Anything less, unless you are really lucky, will probably lead to disaster.

    BTW, $800/week for a chef is, um, about $10-$11/hour for the 70-80 hours (s)he'll put in, that's the same rate, albeit less hours, for  a junior line cook in my book.
     
  17. floridavenue

    floridavenue

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    Thanks Pete - Point taken. I poked around online for Executive Chef going salaries in the Orlando area and they where in the 40s to 60's. The job market is not to great here in Orlando, especially outside of the resorts, but I will benchmark the salary off something else. I just went on Monster and it seems that many of the EC jobs are in the 50ks, so I will jump it up to 1k week (plus bonus) and see what sort of responses I get. Monster and Career Builder have some WYSISYG products that I will try for the search and I will ditch the Partner tag and be specific on the description of what I am looking for as an Executive Chef. 

    So I have this so far:

    Upscale Wine Bar Opening:
    • Succesful small hospitality group seeks an Executive Chef with a minimum of 3-5 years of prior experience * prefereably with a high-volume and wine based background for a Prime Location in Orlando, Florida. As Executive Chef, it will be your primary responsibility to create unique cuisine and provide strong leadership all awhile delivering cost goals along with your vision for the venue's cuisine. You will be responsible for establishing standards for menu content, quality and presentation standards. Salary starts at 52k with a negotiable bonus structure. A Joint Venture Opportunity is also available for the right individual (no capital investment).
    Hopefully, it does not sound entirely to freshmanish as above.....

    J
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Now think about this.

    Would you as an experienced business man trust the daily operation of a million dollar invstment to a student?

    Also you want an Executive WORKING Chef. You do not want one of those guys who runs around with a clip board all day. And is also responsible for employee training.
     
  19. panini

    panini

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    John,

    Not being rude, just business.  Why are you so quick to throw ownership at someone. Is it for attracting them?

    Honestly, If you do attract someone with the qualifications you're looking for. I think that ad would scare them off.

    An experienced Chef should know what the job description is. He or She will provide you with experience, accomplishments, references etc.

    You just need to do your due dill.

    Just my 2 cents. but I read you're ad as inexperienced money to spend. Too many Chefs have gone down in flames with this type of agreement.

    To much info. Sometimes the bigger fish are attracted to only half a worm.
     
  20. thetincook

    thetincook

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    Except, he's not throwing ownership at them, not really. From his description, it looks like he's planning on contracting out management of the wine bar to his exec chef.