Should I hire a Chef right out of Culinary School?

Discussion in 'After Culinary School' started by chefwanted, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. chefwanted

    chefwanted

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    I am expecting a lot of one-sided responses, but that's ok and expected.

    I am an amateur chef, and wine aficionado.  My core background is in business and finance.  I have run two other small businesses as well as worked in corp America.  I am opening up a new restaurant/bistro/wine-bar about 60-seats plus a patio (during summer) and a room for private parties.  I will be hiring a chef and a few cooks.  I am thinking about finding a talented person from culinary school who is hungry for a job and giving them the chance to run my kitchen.  I know probably 99% of culinary students are probably not ready, but I keep thinking one might be.  I was very young went I started my first business and then as well as other times people have told me "your not ready to do XYZ" or "you need 10 years of experience first".  They were wrong and I am looking to give someone a chance.

    First- am I crazy?  Could this possibly work?

    Second- if it could work, what advice would you give me on how to make it happen?

    Thanks.
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Good questions.

    First off, one who graduates from a culinary school is a "Culinary school graduate", not a Chef.

    Now, if the applicant had 4-5 years previous experience in a kitchen with a year or two of supervisory position before entering culinary school, I'd say it would be a good gamble to put him/her in charge of your kitchen.  However if the applicant had "0" experience in a commercial kitchen and day dreamed while watching  the "Food network" prior to culinary school , I'd say it would be a lousy gamble--and an expensive one.

    Who am I to tell you how to spend your money?

    The kitchen with it's infrastructure and equipment is going to cost a minimum of 50 grand, probably a lot me by the time you get salt and pepper shakers on the tables.  At any given time you will have a minimum of 5 grand tied up in inventory--edible, perishable inventory, which can either make you money if properly managed or loose you money if improperly managed.  Hang on, I'm not done yet.  One Chef plus 3 cooks plus a dishwasher = 160 hrs per week, at lets say, oooh average of 15 bucks per hour is, how much is that in labour costs?  Hang on, hang on, what about waitstaff?.  Lets say you have the same amount of waitstaff and labour costs, and the Chef can't handle service rushes and hides out in the john, or tells all the waitstaff to blank off and leave him alone and you have nothing to sell in the dining room, or even worse customers complaining and wanting refunds?

    What I'm trying to say is that the Chef is an integral part of the entire operation--s/he is not a contractor or a 3rd party that you can toss out on a moments notice and not even notice they're gone.

    Then again, who am I to tell you how to spend your money?
     
    mckallidon and buckrogerspdx like this.
  3. chefwanted

    chefwanted

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    Thanks for your input.  Let me clarify, I am not looking to save money, I am looking to find someone on the up and up.  I have seen/met a lot of cooks/chefs who seem to have an attitude as they 'put their time in' but are now old, tired, and stubborn.  I want to find someone who is young (in spirit, not necessarily age or experience), positive, energetic, driven, and eager to take the reins--hence my original question.  I don't want to set them up for failure, but I am willing to take a chance on the right person.  In all my hiring for non-restaurant positions I usually look for someone who may be less experience or 'qualified' but is eager and therefore better to 'promote' them instead of someone who has been around the block and feels entitled.
     
  4. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Yes, I understand all of that.  I've tried to explain my point of view and I'll try it again.

    Q:  What are the two most important questions that 99.999% of  currently operating Restaurant owners ask of a prospective Chef candidate?

    A:  1) What was your food cost at your last place of employment?

         2) What was your labour cost at your last place of employment?

    No one says you have to hire a burned out Chef, just one you can trust to keep the kitchen running and not cost you money.
     
  5. iceman

    iceman

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    "CHEF" is a vocabulary word.
     
  6. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Do not.  Most culinary school grads can't even cook, let alone handle purchasing and scheduling.
     
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  7. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    My concern would be that while you have experience as a business owner, you have none as a restaurant owner and so hiring a fresh out school person to head your kitchen would be a bit tricky because there would be a decided lack of practical experience across the management board.

    You will have your hands full with OJT as a restaurant owner watching the front of the house and the office. Having an experienced hand to watch the back of the house would take some of the initial pressure off of you.

    If you want someone young and hungry, I would think you would be better served by looking for a experienced sous chef that is ready to move up.

    By the way, I have been around a few blocks, but I don't consider myself old, tired, stubborn and entitled. My point being that it comes down to individuals. Some new fresh graduates could possibly fill the bill, but so can some old hands. Attitude and outlook are number one in my book and not related to age whatsoever.

    Don't limit yourself by closing off your mind to any segments of the population when looking to hire quality. You never know where you might find it.
     
  8. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Took the words right out of my mouth , saw this question and this was actually my first reaction....

    Honestly i dont think i could trust a right out of culinary school grad with 0 exp. with a freaking chefs knife , let alone a whole restaurant and kitchen staff. 

    Now its like foodpump said , if the person had prior experience and went to school for advanced learning and to perfect him/herself then i would consider that a gamble , now to get a fresh out of school 20 year old boy/girl who has no culinary experience then well , its a wasted gamble. 

    I have had chefs in their 20´s 30´s and 40´s and know of chefs well past their 50´s and so far none of them are lousy , grouchy or burned out ill have you know. 

    Here in Brazil a newspaper article was published last year saying how most restaurant owners wont hire new culinary school grads because...

    1) They think they are alot better then what they put out

    2) They think their head chefs and are well Divas

    3) Cant cook , or have no speed and or quality when cooking

    My opinion.....

    If you want someone energetic and your willing to gamble , then well go after a cook who has at least had a sous position , with some culinary experience in his belt , willing to work hard and put in the hours for a decent pay. No the sous doesnt have to have come from a road of fame and glory. 

    Also culinary school graduates from LCB arent much better then cooks who were personally trained by other chefs. 

    Also it wouldnt kill you to test these potential canidates....

    Test them if you must , ask them to make a basic hollandaise , brunoise an onion , make a quick dish if possible , clean fish ....

    Its like i said i wouldnt trust a new culinary school grad with my 8 inch chefs knife so i dont see the reason for you to trust them with your money....
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
  9. raisedkaine

    raisedkaine

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    You can't learn how to run a business from a book. Being a Chef in a commercial kitchen is not a spectator sport! You've got to learn proper kitchen management skills from years of experience. I mean, you're opening a restaurant, not a supervisory school for new culinary school graduates! Even though I'm a current student, and I'd love to snag myself a sous chef or chef de partie position as soon as I graduate, I wouldn't even hire me! As foodpump said though, it's your money, and your restaurant, do as you please.
     
  10. beastmasterflex

    beastmasterflex

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    Its not totally out of the question, and I appreciate your wish to pay forward the opportunity you were given. I feel the same way as I had a mentor that gave me the chance when others would have called him a fool.

    My current dinner chef is somewhat of a gamble he is very young and inexperienced, but he has the work ethic and passion that I need in a chef. I am also in a seasonal rural town, where if you want a chef you've gotta make one, the kids father is someone I know, my restaurant is established, and somewhat predictable.

    I don't think there is a short supply of qualified applicants in Seattle, it seems that you don't really have anyone in mind, your restaurant is not opened or established which is very different, unpredictable.

    Basically you will have to pick up this students slack until you can get them up to speed, if you are unable to pick up that slack yourself then the answer is no you should not do it.

    Better answer, maybe, just hire a chef that likes to teach, he will then give opportunity on your behalf, i.e, dishwasher becomes prep cook becomes line cook becomes sous chef.
     
  11. lee ewing

    lee ewing

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    I agree with everyone on here, and everyone has a good angle or perspective on this. I've been in the food service industry all of my life because of my Dad being a restauranteur. So, Ive worked on the line, and been through the trenches. However, I just graduated from The Culinary Institute of America, and I think it made me even sharper as a Culinarian.
    It's really funny how these young cats think that when they do graduate culinary school, they will be an Executive Chef somewhere and/or become a celebrity Chef. It's funny when I ask them what they will do after graduating. If their answer is the above mentioned, I laugh and ask them how they even think that will happen. I tell them that they need to start off crawling before they can walk. I tell them not to be surprised if they work on the line for a while and then get into a Sous Chef position. I tell them they have to know the operation before they can lead the brigade.
    The arrogant ones I've had conversation with, I tell them that they will never make it because arrogance in the kitchen by a young punk kid wont work. My philosophy is to hire the attitude, train the skill. If there is a fresh grad that has that hunger, then they will WANT to learn, and they will WANT to excel. You can tell if they have that, because they want that challenge, and they want the knowledge from their superiors. IMHO
     
  12. chefwanted

    chefwanted

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    A lot of great advice here, thanks all. I started another thread regarding what a chef wants when looking at a new position, feel free to comment on that.
     
  13. viditaren

    viditaren

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    im a culinary student ...about to graduate done internship under chef alex sanchez ( the table) (name drop hahaha ) and also in a hotel ITC MARATHA MUMBAI .
    and honestly i want to be part of a restaurant that serves carefully choosen dishes with local ingredients and provide a very unique flavor profile.
    i am writing this since i see u sir as possible candidate who might be soon opening a property with such characteristics in mind and maybe i can be a part of it
    at any level that you deem fit . i am eager . i am raring to go . i learn, grow all the time.
     
  14. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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     Hire proven talent. A successful restaurant business has a lot of moving parts, they need to move in unison. Sharp FOH + Sharp BOH = Success. Paying it forward is a nice, being successful is mandatory. There may not be any do overs, do it right the first time. ..............ChefBillyB
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  15. mdal2684

    mdal2684

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    Where are you located and when you say American bistro what food are you serving? I have worked in two delis, a group home, a bar and grill, and currentlya higher end Italian restaurant. I am a culinary student looking for an externship for early 2015. I am a hard worker with a 4.0 gpa. I'm the first woman hired at my current place of business in over 2 years. I drive an hour and a half every day to go to school then work right afterwards. I will have 3 years cooking experience once my extership starts.I'm not necessarily looking for something big but I am looking for an American bistros or molecular gastronomy.
     
  16. soesje

    soesje

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    ok. 

    its really great you are willing to give someone a chance, and YES there are a few out there who might be worth it.

    BUT.

    I would definitely put them to the  test: a real thourough interview, plus asking them to do basic things, a trial definitely.

    even in my country its true when someone has graduated (we have different degrees here than USA has), wouldn't neccesarely be someone who can actually cook.

    some I have met, cannot even make a mayo from scratch.

    others, know all the famous names and can replicate dishes.

    I was one of those students who got a chance last year and I feel forever thankful.

    but since its your money and business, be sure what you are looking for and test them.
     
  17. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Would your hiring practice be different if you were looking for an experienced chef?
     
  18. soesje

    soesje

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    cheflayne, well of course not, although I am not the one hiring people ;)

    for an experienced chef I'd always want a thorough interview, and check his CV….his work experience etc.

    after that, would have a second interview eventually if I had questions but when I thought  things were positive in general.
     
  19. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

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    I sure would like to hear from the original poster----

    I think he is dreaming----as a business man why would he think that a completely green student would be a candidate for that responsibility?
     
  20. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Hiring a freshly graduated culinary student as a "chef" is closely parallel to hiring a freshly graduated MBA as a "C.E.O." and just as risky, IMHO.
     
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