Employing a Head Chef

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by pubguy, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. pubguy

    pubguy

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking into buying a pub and restaurant that has some fantastic potential. Whilst taking care of the bar and business side of things is where my strengths are, I have no experience when it comes to the kitchen.

    Ideally what I want to do is take on a Head Chef, who would then be responsible for menu creation, sourcing local produce and hiring the necessary sous chefs etc. Whilst I would provide the overall vision, I want to provide the Chef with considerable creative freedom and responsibility from the start. I want to provide a quality, seasonal menu based on locally sourced produce.

    My questions are:

    - What sort of previous experience should I be looking for, e.g number of years as a head chef (is young and ambitious preferable to older and experienced?) I want someone who would be able to grow with the business

    - Would I be able to attract the right level of talent for c. £30k a year to start?

    - What sort of benefits are usual for this position (i.e profit share, stake in the business etc)

    - Would you expect them to cook as part of the interview process?

    I know I'm sounding like a complete ignoramus so please go easy on me! Any advice is gratefully accepted.
     
  2. davehriver

    davehriver

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    Enthusiasm is not limited by age, when hiring a head chef or other lead person look for an enthusiastic hard worker with enough experience to be ready to handle the job.  Every new hire involves a learning curve but when hiring a lead for a new place that learning curve needs to be fast as there is no established knowledge amongst the staff.
     
  3. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Dave is right. Enthusiasm is not limited by age and experience is important. You don't want a young creative genius who does not understand the need to control costs. You also do not want a more experienced chef who does not keep up with modern methods and ideas.

    You also want to have someone with whom you can discuss issues with openly. As he/she will be in charge of a major part of your business, you must find someone who fits these criteria and is also someone you can talk to and get along with. You will be spending a lot of time together.  This may take some searching. 

    Benefits are not standard. Offer what you can without being unrealistic. A good basic salary is important. I don't know what the US equivalent is for the salary you named. Try a trial period, 3 months or 6 months before the other benefits kick in. Personally I would talk to a law firm to see how they develop partners. that might be a good example to follow. Above all, be a man of your word. Do not make offers you can not or do not intend to keep. 

    A working interview is a great idea. Keep it related to the kind of food you will be serving. Good knife skills, cleanliness, respect for the equipment and the food, wastefulness, creativity and presentation. You don't want to hire someone who talks a great line only to find out they can not actually cook. There is another thread here related to exactly that. 

    Be realistic about your expectations of the chef. Utilizing local producers means time spent cultivating those relationships, which means time spent away from day to day production. Try and figure out how much staff you and the chef will need to produce the menu you want. A chef to run things, line cooks to help with the work, at least one dishwasher.  The more complicated the menu, the larger the staff. 

    And visit other places and talk to other owners in your area to get an idea of how they do these things. I've found most other owners are open to fellow owners if you present yourself openly and honestly. 
     
  4. arugula

    arugula

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    Deffiantly have the chef cook for you. Cause its easy to lie on a resumee. I had a guy with fifteen years experiance under his belt and I asked him to make two pounds of green mior poix and he looked like a deer in the head lights. Make sure your clear with what you want from this person if you were to hire them. Give them a base salary and profit share. Also communixate your goals with them. Tell them everything that way they understand your business. Being open is key. Not being open will only hurt you.

    Arugula
     
  5. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    OK, I'm guessing you wanted Trinity correct? If not, how are you defining green mirepoix?
     
  6. smalltownchef

    smalltownchef

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    just celery?

    trick question?
     
    passthegravy likes this.
  7. Iceman

    Iceman

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    +/-   $48,500 USD. 

    I'm not trying to be arrogant or argumentative, but if you're interviewing someone to be a "head chef", don't ask them to cut up mirepoix.  That is prep work, not head chef work.  I would find that insulting.  I think, and it's only my simple opinion, that asking him/her to fix you a dish would be sop. Something that would be a nice staple on the menu.  That is much better, I believe. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  8. someday

    someday

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    You might be limited to potential candidates based on your salary range as well. £30k a year isn't likely to attract a chef with impeccable credentials and years of experience. More than likely those candidates will be able to, and expect, to earn more than that. 

    If you have a 10-15 year veteran chef willing to work for that money, you might have to ask yourself why. I'm not saying that you should dismiss anyone right off, but be thorough in your evaluation and make sure anyone who you interview seriously cooks for you. 

    With that salary, you are likely to attract current sous chefs looking to step up and run a kitchen of their own. You will most likely get a younger, hungrier chef looking to make a name for themselves locally and run their first kitchen. This can be good, but expect some growing pains while they find their style and possibly struggle getting the numbers under control initially. Be ready to be patient and guide them. 

    Again, be thorough in your interview. Ask them hard questions, and ask them how they would fix things (What would be some corrective steps you might implement if the food cost was a little high last month?, etc)

    Make sure that they are on board for the type of restaurant you want to create. If its an upmarket pub, then make sure that the candidate understands that and doesn't try to fill the menu with his wildly imaginative combinations, etc. 

    Good luck, let us know how it goes. 
     
  9. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Actually, the going rate for "head chef" in the UK is from £16,838 - £36,843, all inclusive. I would think that starting at £30k as being very attractive.  I could of course, be wrong. 

    £30k = $48,500 USD.   That is really good to start at a "pub" here in the States. 
     
  10. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Iceman, 

    thanks for posting that. I've been self employed for the past ten years so not familiar with going rate for chefs but that (48,500) sounds like a good salary to me. I'm hoping to find a job soon and that salary would suit me just fine. With benefits even better. 
     
  11. arugula

    arugula

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    Sofrito yes. Adding in some green peppers.
     
  12. pubguy

    pubguy

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    Hey guys, thanks for your answers. It's great to hear what people with experience have to say! I have a meeting with the bank next week so I'll know if we are going ahead.

    One other question. I know every situation is different, but are recruitment agencies worth using, or is it best to advertise myself? Do professional chefs like to use agencies when they are looking for new work?

    Merry Christmas
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  13. duckfat

    duckfat

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    IMO agents are bottom feeders. Either way that's going to cost you a lot more $$$ to go that route and it's no guarantee that you will get some one better than you hire on your own. That's really not a very efficacious way to go for a small business. If you were running a multi-million dollar management operation for CC's and city clubs spanning a huge geographic area then that might be a viable route. Advertise yourself. It's important to find some one you trust and get along with as much as some one with skill.

    Best of luck with the new place!

    Dave
     
  14. djoko verona

    djoko verona

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    asking a head chef to cup mirepoix on a interview is    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/eek.gif   but any way...if you expect you head chef to do the basic preps in the kitchen than you are wrong...than who will seat and create nice special and menus to attract a new

    customers ...that is the reason why is a levels in the kitchen...."like cooks and kitchen helpers creating the menu" and Head chefs make mise en place lol   not possible

    a good chef is to run profitable kitchen ...and a good cook is to produce the recipes from the head and cook it ...

    try to see the organization skills,hes/her creation and presentation...working on food cost and waste etc etc ..

    do not promise any benefits before you are sure that you find the right person...

    regarding the offer 30k is attractive ...if somebody wants to grow with the company that offer is great to start and do the best

    after you find the right person ..make sure that you will make him/her happy to stay work with you...

    cheers

    what do you think about me moving in UK lol (offer attractive )

    joke hahahah

    cheers