Corporate Chef

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Joined Jul 11, 2003
Hi Everyone
Im new to the board and want to know if there are any corporate chefs out there and what the job is like. Im being interviewed for one with a "well known concept" and am just not sure of the pros and cons. Thanks
 

drx

18
10
Joined Jul 10, 2003
Hi gochef,
Pros: Usually, corporate has better hours than a regular gig. Benefits should be excellent. Pay should be great. All the bells and whistles you don't get with a regular restaurant job, a corporate gig should have.
Cons: Lotsa politics, stress, and forget about creativity, you are there to follow and implement the plan that is set before you created by someone you probobly will never see. If you can be specific on who you plan to work for, I probobly can help you get a clearer picture. I've been a corporate chef, so I might be able to help.
 
4
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Joined Jul 11, 2003
Your information is helpful, unfortunately Im in the interviewing process so Im not at liberty to say who the "concept restaurant" is, but their menu is very dated and in need of help. Supposedly it is a scratch kitchen. Any advice on what they are looking for in a chef...something extra to get me in. Thanks
 
1,908
274
Joined Oct 28, 1999
I would echo DRX's comments and add a few of my own, if I may.

Creativity can be limited; in general, a concept/formula/corporate establishment must operate from a prescribed (and well rehearsed) set of plans. As such, recipes have been researched, costed, tested and implemented to ensure profitability as well as efficiency. VERY big concept to keep in mind; methods for disciplining staff, accounting practices, pay scales, etc are all part of 'the plans.'

The structure and organization of 'formula' operations is in place to establish consistent operations from day-to-day and unit-to-unit. Sometimes, there can be an overwhelming amount of paperwork and organizational work that is necessary to compliment the regimen that supports this consistency. Love it or hate, it is what it is.

In general, there are good on-the-job learning opportunities. Especially, if you want to examine moving into management. Often, you can 'shadow' a manager and share thier insight to better your own understanding. To that end, moving from, perhaps, a kitchen manager position to an assistant general manager is not unreasonable.

As for items they may look for in a chef to become part of their team... if they are a true corporate outfit, they will like to see a commitment to good(!!!!) numbers... food cost, labor dollars, bottom line profitability as well as ideas to fuel the top line sales. They will also look for A+ organizational skills. Since a lot (all?) outfits operate on skeleton crews, organization is key to overall success. Part of organization is computer know-how. Be well aware of how to read and create a basic spreadsheet and what the numbers mean to you. Also, be a pro-safety employee. Be sure they understand your committment to keeping your guests safe as well as your staff. Perhaps sharing your track record of recent health department inspections or "accident free" days may be of help; accidents cost companies money! Being accident-free means you are aware of the impact of illness and injusry on the bottom line.

Cetainly there a million+ tips on what they want from you. Make sure you get at least some of what you need. I say that because going into a formula outfit will drain a little of the creative juice from you, so you will need to be happy with other aspects of the job to ensure your long-term success.
All the best in your venture and keep us posted!
 

drx

18
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Joined Jul 10, 2003
Excactly! I think you just about explained how it is in the corporate world. You take the good with the bad. I found that higher management only looks at numbers, and if they're off, be ready to have answers. Oh, and document everything!
 
818
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Joined Oct 13, 2001
drx , I must agree with Jim totally . I did this for 2 years and it was quite a learning experience . Normally you are given a geographical region where you are responsible for those accounts! Sometimes more than 50 different kitchens ! Your job is to be like the Lone Ranger without Tonto . Remember what Jim said , The bottom line and numbers are where its at .
I must say I did enjoy the challenge of a new kitchen and it is a great ego booster but , Hotel rooms get old real quick .
Good luck , Doug..................................
 
846
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Joined Nov 29, 2001
As long as they don't ask you to serve hot dogs, corporate chef is the best food job. The hours can't be beat - it doesn't interfere with family life. You get to prepare food and be creative - on someone else's dime. It's not like having your own place - it's way less risky.

DH scored a job as a CC and he absolutely loves it. The last guy was a joke. The most used appliance in his kitchen was the #10 can opener. DH donated #10 cans of fruit cocktail, chocolate pudding, big pillows of jello mix and chile con carne to a shelter (in his company's name).

He developed a great menu and now those people are eating!! His situation is a little different than the usual corporate chef arrangement. The company absorbs his salary and just charges the employees for the cost of ingredients. For instance, a prime rib lunch cost $4.53.

He could not be happier. And he's a big hero to them.
 

drx

18
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Joined Jul 10, 2003
Yeah, chiffonade, same here. price and all. That was the exact situation that I walked into. Corporate gigs are profiled for managers, not chefs, but it takes a chef to get real food production.
 
1,908
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Joined Oct 28, 1999
That really sums it up! If you are management material, then your ability to assimilate to corporate culture should be fine. It is just that some folks are great cooks/chefs but not necessarily great managers. Which is not always a bad thing.... but that's a different thread.
 

kuan

Moderator
Staff member
7,067
524
Joined Jun 11, 2001
One word. Compromise. Working through layers of management always involves compromise. Even seemingly small details like what kind of eggs to use might require compromise.

Be prepared to go through more rigorous prototyping and menu development. Everyone will want to put in their $0.02 worth. You will never a product touched by so many people. Be prepared to listen to "stupid" ideas, but understand that not all people think about food the way we do. It's a great growth opportunity :)

Kuan
 
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Joined Jul 21, 2003
Hello Chef,

I am Corporate Chef for a Specialty Pasta Manufacturing company and have the oportunity to speak to the Corporate Chefs for different Chains and work with them. The job is a different beast all together. I go homw more tired now (mentally) than when I went home after a long Mother's Day weekend. The hours are good, some traveling will be involved and the pressure from the top is nothing you have seen yet. A great resource is the Research Chefs Association, which is made up of alot of Corporate Chefs and can help with products and anwers to those questions that will arise, changing a menu for one restaurant is hard, then trying to duplicate for many is harder. Good Luck and if I can be of help let me know!

Stephen J. Moir, CEC
Corporate Executive Chef
Deer Park Ravioli
deerparkravioli.com
 
4
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Joined Jul 11, 2003
Thanks everyone for all of your good input....well, after 3 interviews I was turned down. Seems a guy with a hotel backround got the gig. Not so sure how much cooking this guy has ever done (sorry hotel chefs) but we shall see.:rolleyes:
 

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