Pastry Chef Working Interview

Discussion in 'Professional Pastry Chefs' started by chefinomaha, Jun 17, 2018.

  1. chefinomaha

    chefinomaha

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    Good afternoon everyone,
    My first posting here. I am hiring a pastry chef and I am wanting to have them come in for a 2-3 hr testing interview after the initial face to face interview. I have never interviewed a pastry chef before so I am hoping you folks could lend some advice as to what type of things I should ask the potential candidates to prepare? thanks
     
  2. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    Do you know how to do pastry yourself?

    It wouldn't matter what you ask the candidates to do, if you have no clue whether they're doing it right or wrong.

    The following items are very easy to make, and also very easy to spot faulty techniques: choux paste, English cream, meringues, sponge cake, crème caramel (flan), and tempered chocolate.
     
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  3. llChefJayll

    llChefJayll

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    Have them do 2 plated desserts and a cake. See what components they put on their plated desserts and how they play on flavors and textures. I agree with Pam Pam's suggestion but if you don't know how those items are suppose to come out then it would be pointless. Honestly I've had testing interviews where they gave me one week in advance to prepare, send them a marketlist prior to the testing and they have everything prepared BUT if you really want a truly experienced pastry chef tell them to bring their chef jacket with them for the initial interview and once they walk in say hey thanks for coming now go start your testing. Theyll have to create a menu on the spot with what you have available in the kitchen. The advantages of this method is you'll find a candidate who can deal with pressure, since its on the spot like this the candidate will stick to what they are most comfortable with and you can see if the candidate is able to handle menu developement which will be their main focus anyway.
     
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  4. chefinomaha

    chefinomaha

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    @Pat Pat - Thank you for replying! No I do not know pastry. I should clarify maybe what I am looking for. I am not necessarily looking for "technique" I am more interested in finished product like appearance, taste, how they work in the kitchen and what types of items the candidates can prepare. A friend who is a chef but by no means a pastry chef suggested I have them bake a small cake and decorate it, prepare quick breads, danish and then give them an ingredient such a fresh berry or something and then just ask them to prepare 100 pieces of something that is their choice. Sounded good to me, just wanted to get some professional advice
     
  5. Pat Pat

    Pat Pat

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    In pastry, techniques translate to flavour and appearance and shelf life.

    Techniques are what separate great products from mediocre ones, and separate a chef that can do pastry from a pastry chef.

    A muffin could taste fine out of the oven, but if made improperly, it would taste much worse later on, for example.
     
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  6. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hi Chefinomaha,

    Your original advice was pretty good, although I wouldn't ask for a Danish in a 2 or 3 hr time frame. Even if you don't know much about pastry, you can tell a lot about how well they work, how clean, how organized, and most importantly how well they get along/ how they treat others.

    If you don't have a dough sheeter, don't bother asking for samples of laminated dough or Danishes. If your business requires b'fast pastries, then yes, ask for samples of muffins and quick breads. If you do a lot of plated deserts, ask them to do a few plates, if it's buffets, ask for a few cakes or buffet deserts.

    Tempered chocolate is a fundamental technique, but if your pastry kitchen is a cramped 8'x8' broom closet that's 98 degrees on a cool day, don't bother with that. Similarly, if you don't have a minimum of a 30 qt mixer, don't ask for bread samples.( unless you're planning on buying a mixer suitable for bread production in the near future...)

    What you should ask during the stage, is what the candidate thinks a, say, 9" cheesecake that s/he just made would cost. The ideal candidate would say something like
    " well, there's a little over a pound of cream cheese per cake, and cream cheese is $15 per 3 lb loaf, and eggs are 20 cents each, so, oh..$6.25 or thereabouts without doing a real costing".

    Above all: Beware the pastry chef who has no idea of how much raw ingredients cost, or who refuses to use a scale to measure ingredients .
     
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  7. panini

    panini

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    I agree with @foodpump,
    1st. thing is to check your city or state work laws on working interview. Being the litigious society we've become most states require you to almost hire a person to step foot and work in your kitchen.
    I would not recommend bringing jacket and tools. That should be a given.
    As an owner, I personally feel that expecting for quality product, a perfect appearance, etc. from a chef in a strange kitchen would not be a good indicator of what to expect post hire.
    The item or items request can be anything. Do your due diligence and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients for multiple variations of the item.
    As @foodpump states, I would certainly address the knowledge as well as the approximate cost of ingredients and how, and in what volume they would acquire them in.
    Personally I could care less what the finished product looks like. My concentration would be focused on the ability to accommodate to the environment. Does this person take control and find ingredients and equipment on their own or do they constantly ask where things are. (a huge red flag for me). Observe organizational skills, priority of prep or mise en place. If you give them the formula, do they ask how many portions you are requesting and do they take the time to actually document/note
    on the formula if scaling up or down. Does the formula remain in front of them through the whole task. Observe sanitation habits. Do they clean as they go, or use identical equipment and just go to the plounger with everything of rinse and reuse.
    A Pastry Chef will eventually give you, your version the product you desire. The question in my mind is how they get there and is it going to be a profitable event.
    Ask for the perfect eclair you used to buy on Sundays with your family as a kid. I think is an expedient road to disappointment, failure, and the potential pass on a superstar.
    Just my 2 cents.
    I just finished a 5 month hunt for an associate. Very little product knowledge, but has the ability to pull the creativity from the left side of his brain and naturally create a detailed avenue to produce it using the right side of his brain. Analytically, unfragmented, and without distraction. (the ability to stop the creative process with confidence) one ability chefs are losing more of everyday. This past Sunday, I would have enjoyed one of the best fusion dishes I've had in all my travels, but sadly the chef did not stop on his 6th ingredient and created a dish that was so busy my taste but shut down when he went past umami.