The Caterers Corner
How do I interview a chef? Caterers Corner: How do I interview a chef?
By Erinnew (Erinnew) on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 07:45 pm: Edit

I would like to take my business to the next level by hiring a professional chef. My problem is that I am not sure how. I would love some suggestions. Questions I should ask, credentials I should look for. I am very new to the business myself. I would say that my strengths are defiantly marketing/business and food presentation but I my menus should be better. I would love to hear what you have to say!

By Fivediamond (Fivediamond) on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 12:37 am: Edit

What I look for when hiring a professional is his/her portfolio. If the prospect is serious about his craft/profession they will have supporting documents, reviews and photos of their work and skills. Look for past menus, previous places of employment and a culinary style that fits your view of the restaurant you want to see. Meaning, don't hire someone that has strong Asian skills for a Four Diamond French restaurant.
Another major criteria is their leadership ability. Look to see how many apprentices they have trained and/or how many people they supervised. Depending on the size of your location, this can be very very important. You will want your chef to be able to train, motivate and mentor your junior staff. By doing this you can avoid transient staff and build a culinary team that will function when your chef is off. Remember, your chef has to wear many hats. They can't be just the drill sargent, but the father/mother, accountant, artist, business person and the law. You will need to find someone that exibits all these talents.

Any ?'s.. e-mail me at and I'll through you my resume. It pretty much has the stuff you should be looking for in a candidate.

Good Luck,


By George (George) on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 08:25 am: Edit

There is a lot moe to it than just an interview. You have to do your homework.

Check the time line on the resume and look for omissions and extensions to cover up short stays. Get references for the last three or four positions, or 5 years, and verify them with an immediate supervisor instead of HR if possible. (Not the current one, without permission.) When talking to these people what they don't say is often as important as what they do so listen.

Did the candidate tell you they would need to give their current employer 2 weeks notice, or more? If not think what they will give you when they decide it's time to move on?

When they first started their career quick hits (seasonal stays or 9-12 months) at places on the resume aren't so bad, but you want to see at least at least 18month to 2 years for supervisory positions.

Watch out for candidates who walk in with a handful of medals but give references from places that have all gone out of business with un-checkable references. (learn from my error here)

If they claim to have a degree, diploma or certification contact the issuing authority and verify it.

After the above if you can have them come in and do a cooking trial. You want to be sure they are not afraid of, and are capable of, getting their hands dirty when your down a line cook or two. Do they stand around and watch or are they eager to help with prep and smaller chores? Do they interact well with existing staff? Do they help clean up, keep a clean station or even heaven forbid help take out the trash and do mats?

For senior positions have them sign off for and do a credit check. If they cannot handle their finances what do you think they will do with yours?

A little homework now will save you nightmares later.


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