cooking test for new hires.....

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by fryguy, Jun 6, 2012.

  1. fryguy

    fryguy

    Messages:
    195
    Likes Received:
    13
    Exp:
    Sous Chef
    First thing I do after getting a new cook in for an interview is to put out all items needed to make a hollandaise and let them take a shot at it.......if it breaks ....so sorry charlie keep looking....

    what type of test do you use????
     
  2. someday

    someday

    Messages:
    1,460
    Likes Received:
    264
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Why Hollandaise, just out of curiosity. Do you work in a breakfast/lunch place? I know a few really good cooks who can't make hollandaise, mainly because they've never been asked to in a professional kitchen. It is not something that you find in a lot of places nowadays anyhow, unless, like I said, you are in a place that makes it everyday. 

    I think asking then to cook a piece of fish, or a steak to a specific temp, will tell you a lot more than a hollandaise test would, just in a practical sense. 

    Even a good old fashioned egg test would work well too, I think. At least most cooks have done eggs at some point (even just at home) and a lot could be gleaned from how they treat the egg, Mise en place, control of heat, finesse, etc. 
     
  3. chefhow

    chefhow

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I used to do a dexterity test that was timed and used a lego shape that applicants had to recreate and a long bolt that had washers, nuts and caps.  That had a picture and the applicants had to put it together in order of the pic.  IF they made it past that stage we did a Mayo and a blender to see if they could make it and it held.  We had a better than 70% failure rate but we had some really good cooks.
     
  4. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    For 30 years I have asked  Make me a French Omellete  and Fine Dice  me an Onion . These two things tell me everything that they are capable off.
     
  5. chefbuba

    chefbuba

    Messages:
    2,211
    Likes Received:
    473
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Cut something for me, identify cut steaks, fish, fresh herbs.
     
  6. thetincook

    thetincook

    Messages:
    1,103
    Likes Received:
    29
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    Properly hard boiling an egg or two is a good test if you have them do it along with a couple others. HB eggs are prone to "out of sight, out of mind" lapses, so it's a good way to see if the applicant has good work habits.
     
  7. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,726
    Likes Received:
    329
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Nobody can be good at everything, and there's a chance that they're not as good or not practiced in the one thing you pick as a test.  The best test is to hire them, kick them out if htey can't learn quick.
     
  8. chefchrism

    chefchrism

    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I have never been a fan of bringing perspective employees in for cooking tests and have refused

    to do them myself, what would happen if they seriously injuried themselves, (kitchens can be very dangerous) since there are not in your employ

    they would not be covered under WSIB and would open you up to law suits.

    I have always let there resume speak for its self and if they can't do the job we have three months

    to let them go no questions asked.
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    So I should hire them go through all the paper work formalities waste their time and mine then let them go.. To me this makes no sense. Most resumes are not worth the paper they are printed on. I have had them tell me "Oh I have not used a knife in a long time"or have not made an omelette in a while?  I got news for them  you never forget how to use a knife or make an omelette.  And if you have not done it in years, the other exuse I get  then I do not want to hire you.
     
  10. someday

    someday

    Messages:
    1,460
    Likes Received:
    264
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I sometimes think the whole "make me an omelette" or "roast me a chicken" test to be a little outdated. There is a wide culinary world out there are not everyone is good at everything. I kind of look at it as a decent litmus test, I suppose, but I'd be more interested in (like I said earlier upthread) if they can cook a steak to medium rare and give me a nicely cooked piece of salmon or bass. 

    Not everyone went to culinary school, trained through a formal brigade (especially nowadays) or is keen enough at home to learn how to make a perfect french omelettes. Maybe they never worked brunch so they don't know how to do a hollandaise. 

    Cooking encompasses a lot of techniques, disciplines and styles. It is perfectly reasonable to think that not everyone who is a good line cook can make an omelette, or roast a chicken, or make a hard boiled egg. 

    I know a guy who is probably the best grill cook I have ever seen. Beyond being a hard worker, fast, etc and all that, he cooks just about damn near everything correctly (when he does have a steak or chop come back, it is usually because the guest wants it different than how they ordered it). But I'm pretty sure he couldn't make a french omelette. If course, my point if moot if the job he is applying for requires him to make omelettes, but assuming that is not true than it might be easy to overlook someone like that if they fail the test.

    I think a lot of places ask for a trail, too. I've never got hired as a line cook without doing a trail, but I only had to cook for my job (meaning make the chef a dish to eat) once I think.
     
  11. michaelga

    michaelga

    Messages:
    1,237
    Likes Received:
    64
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Not sure if it's just an american thing but in 20 odd years working in Canada I've never seen someone do a 'cooking test' nor have I ever been asked to do one.

    After working for a few months I've been asked to prepare a dish for specials and present it to the owners / chef.  

    I've seen aspiring leads or sous' be asked to make a few dishes to show what they have etc.

    But I've never seen someone who isn't employed let loose in the kitchen, even during slow hours.  Hell even doing a stage is pretty uncommon here in western Canada.
     
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I look for movement and technique and speed and cleanliness more then looking at the omelette.
     
  13. chefhow

    chefhow

    Messages:
    843
    Likes Received:
    12
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    EXACTLY!!!!

    That was the point of our tests as welll.  While they were being tested they were being talked too, reminded of how long was left so they felt pressure and even "accidentally" bumped into by another cook to see if they maintained.  It wasnt 100% about their ability to cook or make a Mayo, more about how they handled the situation and the surroundings.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2012
  14. succotash

    succotash

    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    I'm a believer in just asking them to go into the walk in and making you something. You can watch the way they work, and give them the chance to show you what they do well. I can take five minutes to teach you something, for me it is more important to see how well you work after that. I also would have someone stage for a full day, that is pretty typical.
     
  15. iceman

    iceman

    Messages:
    2,349
    Likes Received:
    310
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    For me, that last thought from soccotash was the best. There have been some others too, but I've kinda got little use for tests that have got nothing to do with with things not produced in the kitchen of the particular job. 
     
  16. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

    Messages:
    1,331
    Likes Received:
    167
    Exp:
    Sous Chef, Event Manager
    Oh I dunno, maybe we should be looking at experience indirectly related to the kitchen work.

    I'm thinking.....experienced jugglers, plate twirlers, high-wire balancing acts, memory feat performers,

    complex multitaskers, and maybe ex agents, soldiers or others trained to endure great stress

    without crumpling. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  17. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    I think that is exactly what chefhow and I said. I know I don't care how omelette comes out.
     
  18. someday

    someday

    Messages:
    1,460
    Likes Received:
    264
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Yeah, that makes sense...the looking at the movement, care, speed, etc. Let me ask you this--if someone just worked "ok," meaning they were a little on the slow side, a little sloppy, etc, but the omelete was 100% perfect, would they get the job? Or lets say the opposite, they worked immaculate, were very fast, organized, etc, but the omelete was burned and overcooked, would they get the job?

    Just curious how that would play out.

    I agree that seeing them cook, whether it is a cooking test or a shift-long trail/stage, is vitally important.  
     
  19. chefedb

    chefedb

    Messages:
    5,516
    Likes Received:
    174
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Nerves would be a considering factor. If overcooked OK  but if burned while he  or she is standing in front of it  NO.. My outlook has always been that there was 3 million people in New York, I just interviewed one, so therefore I still have the possibility of interviewing 2 million 999000 more. Somwone will get it all right.
     
  20. rainliberty

    rainliberty

    Messages:
    36
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Culinary Student
    I imagine it depends on the position their applying for. Take a line cook for example, I've known a few people who've prior to working fine dining only worked chains. They were terribly slow in terms of prep and can't work without standardized recipes. But, in return they're incredibly fast getting food off the line once everything is set up. Its been my experience that almost everyone gets good with repetition so it's better to just fine someone willing to learn and prior experience/skill is a bonus.