Executive Chef__How do I find one?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by postmaster, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. postmaster

    postmaster

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    Hi all,

    We are having a difficult time finding an Executive Chef to run a new upscale dining restaurant in Camden, Arkansas.

    A little background:

    This is a new restaurant that specializes in (new) American cuisine located in a small town in south central Arkansas. The restaurant is in a completely remodeled 1896 US Post Office that has never been a restaurant before. All the equipment is new, even the forks have never been used. The restaurant seats 80 on the fine dining level, 50 on the bar level, and 100 on a seasonal outside patio. Their is nothing like this place for at least 100 miles in any direction. The owners are new to the restaurant industry, but are willing to invest the time and MONEY to make this project work. If you want to take a look



    or

    www.postmastersgrill.com

    Our problem is:

    How and where do we advertise for an Executive Chef?

    How do we check out their qualifications? The ones we have talked to all their references are either out of business, or are just personal friends.

    What are Executive Chefs interested in for their next job? Is it money, challenge, area of country, etc.

       I know it is a combination of many factors, but what really is the deciding factor.

    This restaurant does have a few special situations, don't they all. It is in an unusual area of the country, economically depressed, the ones that have money do, the ones that don't REALLY don't. This does make for good real estate prices. It is two hours to a bigger city (Little Rock, Shreveport)

    This is a really excellent opportunity for the right person, beautiful new restaurant with unlimited potential.

    HOW DO WE FIND OUR EXECUTIVE CHEF?

    Thanks in advance for the help, I really find the forum extremely helpful and read it every day.

    Doug
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Let's throw another log onto the food business fire.

    Let's see. Why does small food business have no financial respect in the financial world?

    Might as well mail it in now.
     
  3. greyeaglem

    greyeaglem

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    You could try a head-hunting company. With so many restaurants closing, it's hard to tell if it's for economic reasons or because of incompetent management (such as the executive chef). It's hard to know what you're getting, which is why a lot of us would like to see a standardization system like they have in the other trades so you know if the person you are hiring is an apprentice, journeyman, master or just someone that hands over tools. There might be someone with legitimate talent that would be interested in your place, but there will also be plenty of would-be star chefs who will be glad to take the salary and give a hang less if the place makes it or not. My question is why someone with no restaurant experience would take on and invest money in this type of project? Especially in this economy when the restaurant business is so volotile even in better times.I see some serious red flags here. Two hours from the nearest city? Fine dining in a depressed area? Are there other businesses in the area that attract wealthy people to draw in the customer base you need? A restaurant is first and foremost a business. It is in the business of selling food. The type of restaurant it will be and the food it will serve is determined by location and the customer base it has to draw from. Are there enough people with money to support the place, because while people from cities will sometimes travel for a meal a two hour dirive is stretching it. That means you have to have enough people in the immediate area that can afford the place. And just becasue they can afford it doesn't mean they'll go there.  People with money tend to entertain each other in their homes. The place I work at is considered to be kind of a special occasion place with prices slightly higher than a fast-casual restaurant. Most of my clientele are regular working people out to celebrate something. I do get people that I know have money, but if I relied on them I'd be out of business. So you might want to shoot for some middle ground here. Our food is simple but well made and the place is clean, That seems to impress people as much as a fancy menu. I just hate to see someone work hard and invest a lot of time and money into a concept that I don't believe can work if conditions are as you stated. The area I live in is fairly stable compared to other parts of the nation and they still had to privitize the local country club because there wasn't enough rich people interested in supporting it. And that was 7 years ago. If it wasn't for weddings and other catered functions, it would be out of  business because their fine dining restaurant just doesn't do enough business. Their chef will rave about how people from the Twin Cities love it, but the fact is they're not in the Twin Cities and the local people can't afford it. And even in big cities fine dining places are taking a whacking. Places like Oceanair and Morton's Steak House, iconic and established as they were, coulldn't make it in this economy. One more piece of advice, if you do decide to go with fine dining and you want to be taken seriously, take the word grill off the name. A "grill" is a small informal place where you can get a beer and a hamburger. Not the image I think you want to project. For instance, you could call it simply The Camden Post Office , your tag line could be "Where everything is first class".  The building looks nice. I wish you all the best luck and hope the business does well.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  4. left4bread

    left4bread

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    To be honest, your post looks like an advertisement for a cooking position.

    But, FWIW, I'm going to give my take on it.

    Take it with a heaping spoonful of salt, or a grain of sugar.  all the tea in China...  something like that.

    Where do you advertise?  monster.com  craigslist...

    Check qualifications?  I know the economy is sh*t, but if they can't give a reference to a place that is still open...  you got to wonder. Personal friends don't count, shouldn't count especially on a resume for a "head chef" position.  C'mon.  I pulled that crap when I was filling out applications, never on a resume.

    It is two hours to a bigger city (Little Rock, Shreveport): That's were you craigslist then. That's probably where your chef will come from.

    And then as far as the "background of the restaurant and mission statement", my question is "how much?"  That is to say, you can promise me full poetic license regarding menus and whatnot, but I just want the bottom line: what's the salary.  Then I decide if it's worth re-locating.

    That's my take on it.  Today.

    EDIT:
    OH SNAP!  I just got the pun.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  5. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    If I were a Restaurant owner with limited knowledge in the kitchen, opening an upscale restaurant, I would seek out the Chef that meets the requirements needed for "YOUR" success, not the best of the ones that apply. Talk to people ;or look up on the Internet, top 10 upscale restaurants in (CITY)  and find out the successful Restaurants in your State and surrounding states. This way you can talk with Chefs that already meet your criteria and have a good track record and are successful. The Chef is the key element to a successful Restaurant, you took time to make sure your foundation is solid, take the time to make your Kitchen has a solid foundation. The Exec Chef S/B a person of passion, integrity, character, Creativity and pride. For this person to be an asset to you and the success of your business, they will have to have these traits on a daily basics. Chef's like a challenge, they will work long hours and work hard to succeed, treat them with respect and fairness. If you expect a Chef to give 100% to accomplish your needs, make sure you take care of their needs when needed, loyalty is a two was street.......................ChefBillyB
     
  6. postmaster

    postmaster

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    Thanks for all for the tips and comments!

    We have tried Monster, and got interest from all over the country after running employment ads in Dallas, Little Rock, Baton Rouge, and Hot Springs at a cost of almost $1,500 (ouch). We even had a couple of tv chefs, but  you have to ask how someone from New York, Hollywood, Chicago could handle the move to a small south central Arkansas town that doesn't even have a movie theater. What would they be expecting? This is going to be the ONLY place for miles that offers any interest. They are building a concert stage and outdoor patio (100 seats) and the owners are wanting to have live music on a regular basis, this will be nice for the area since we don't have any live music venues anywhere near. The owners are very committed to this restaurant and open to ideas and suggestions. They really want this to be the exec's place and have their signature on the entirety of the menu, pick the kitchen staff, and put their fingerprint on this place, plus they are willing to pay!!

    Greyeaglem:

    the name is set in stone, all the signs, etc. have been done, but thanks for the suggestions.

    Doug
     
  7. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Getting someone to move to a small rural area and keeping them there is the biggest challenge. I moved to a small town (15000) after always living in big metro areas, LA, SF, etc I love living here, much slower pace.

    It is a shock to someone that has never liver in a small town. The food here is crap, the food selection and quality at the local markets is crap, there is nothing to do. Forget about specialty vendors in this area, no one services it, hell, I can't even get pastrami navel without driving 250 miles rt to Seattle.
     
  8. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    First of all, take down those pictures of those plates.  They're not very professional and I bet you they don't represent what your restaurant may offer six months from today or maybe even next month.

    We have a similiar situation here in Minnesota.  There's a little restaurant 2 hours away from the city that wants to be exactly like your restaurant.  It barely supports itself and nobody wants to move there.  The only business it gets is local happy hour and out of town visitors who want the best that Marshall, MN can offer.

    1)  You can hire a chef consultant to start up the kitchen and do the hiring.  Figure out the menus, the costs, the purchasing, etc.  New American cuisine means a lot of different things to a lot of people.  Focus on what you want, compromise a bit on the costs and execution, and run your kitchen as lean as possible.  Consider this a sorta preview as to what kind of person you want running the place.

    2)  Get in the kitchen and work the startup.  Know it inside and out.

    I've known people who have had good luck on starchefs.com in the past.  But that was in 1997 or so.
     
  9. postmaster

    postmaster

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    Chefbuba:

    You hit the nail on the head with your description of living in a small town. Much more relaxed life style, but you have to travel to get ANYTHING. I was in Little Rock yesterday for a Ben E Keith show and had grocery lists from 3 other friends to fill at a grocery store where you CAN actually get pastrami!

    Kuan:

    Thanks for the tips and will take all of them to heart. The photos on the website were taken by the owner to represent the style of cuisine she would like. Not much chance of them coming off until we get a chef in here with some new photos. I took a look at Starchefs and it looks promising.

    We put an ad on Craigslist (thank you left4bread) yesterday and already have a half dozen responses.

    The search goes on!!

    Doug
     
  10. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Nothing personal chefbuba but 
    There are only 4,500 people in my county on a good day. LOL

    Luckily an overgrown cow town, also known as the state captiol, is about 45 minutes away so a semblance of civilization is fairly accesible.
     
  11. panini

    panini

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    No business plan or concept in the equation? I don't think you need a Chef. You need a tenant.
     
  12. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    It does happen. In 1989, I worked for 2 years at a mountain resort restaurant which has since closed in the last few years.

    After that in 1991, I worked at another restaurant for a year before leaving to open my own restaurant, that restaurant has since closed.

    After 12 years I closed my place, moved to the Caribbean for 2 years, that place sold to new owners who changed everything about it including name.

    That basically leaves me with alot years of unverifiable work. I doubt any work before 1989, which goes back to 1974, is still verifiable.

    Actually since coming back from the Caribbean, I do have 3 years of verifiable.LOL

    Stuff happens!
     
  13. panini

    panini

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    maybe
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  14. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I know it's not that small, but compared to living in LA, SF, Sacramento, it's small.

    Your in the Sierra Foothills, know where Nevada City is?  I grew up there. We moved there in 1968, at that time there were only about 5000 people between Grass Valley & Nevada City. My dad lived there until 2008
     
  15. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I get over to Grass Valley and Nevada City occasionally for "get out of Dodge" trips.
     
  16. gunnar

    gunnar

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    what? you coming out of the ridge near North San Juan or something?  Or you living in Cedar Ridge or off of the Colfax Hwy pretending your in Hicksville? I grew up near the Bear River Bridge on the Nevada/Placer county line. Isolated enough to leave the doors unlocked but near enough for cool stuff on the weekends it's not unbearable.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  17. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    By the KOA?
     
  18. gunnar

    gunnar

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    Downstream, my family has property on Gautier dr., the road loops back and the property line is " To the middle of the running stream." Meaning the Bear River  and the Placer County line. Nice place in the summer. the winter river floods would bring all kinds of firewood and debris to be cleared every year though. Still the last best swimming hole for miles, after our property it became bedrock serpentine canyons.
     
  19. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Actually more like Volcano.
     
  20. chez fritz

    chez fritz

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    New Restaurant Concept

    What any serious chef should ask before jumping into a new venture

    1. Cuisine and concept

    2 Target market -- age, income, occupation, etc

    3 Budget -- making a business plan

    4 Raw material suppliers

    5 Staff -- these people represent your restaurant

    6 Marketing strategies

    Remember, a restaurant’s long-term success depends upon customers who become regulars. And, beyond a doubt, if they return, they will come for the food, not the ambience alone.

     But think carefully about what you put on your menu.

    Dishes that take time may not be practical; easy-to-make dishes may not be profitable. Still others may require hard-to-find raw material (sauces, pastes, herbs, etc).

    You should only include those dishes that you can consistently produce. Have a decent set of dishes that are unique to your restaurant. Proper pricing is critical. You need to calculate the 'food cost' of the item, add on your operational costs and expected profit and then arrive at a figure that you think customers are willing to pay.

    Remember that 'willing to pay' is a highly variable figure. It depends on the customer's expectations of the restaurant.

    People go to a restaurant for three main reasons: food, ambience, and service. You can have the best of food, but the dining experience can be ruined by poor service.

    The restaurant business is all about managing expectations -- the customer's, that is.

    As a footnote, none of this matters if you do not stay true to the fundamental rules of running a restaurant; fair treatment, safe and clean work environment, consistent work hours, decent uniform, quality products, a team culture and honesty…