I have my first "Head Chef" interview early next week. This is my next career step, and what I am looking for. I have paid my dues, went to Culinary School, and the last 12 years I have spent working in kitchens (with the exception of the 2 or so years I thought I wanted to do something else and 6 months off when I had my kid). I have spent the last 7 years as a Sous, and feel I am 100% ready to take on a Head Chef position.
That all being said, I am so nervous I am actually losing sleep. I have had 2 phone interviews already, and feel I am exactly what they are looking for. Now I have to go in, meet the CEO and all of the managers and the corporate chef face to face, and of course, cook for them.
What I was told is I would have access to anything in the kitchen, and given 3 'key' ingredients. The corporate chef told me in his interview for his 3 key ingredients, they gave him old stinky trout, but he was told to just do whatever he wanted to do.The menu is totally normal, and typical of any kind of 'Roadhouse" type restaurant. It has given me zero inspiration. As I broke down the menu, I jotted everything down in a chart. There are more protein choices then there are veg choices.
Things I know about this place and what they are aiming to do:
The corporate chef mentioned the area has a high obesity rate, and he wants things to be fresher, but still enjoyable to the blue collar crowd. He mentioned he wanted someone who is creative, but caters to the local trends. He KNOWS they are protein heavy. He said they will be redoing the menu, and he wasn't against a 100% change. He likes simple. He likes well seasoned food.
My real problem is this, which direction do I go with the food I make for them? Do I try and 'wow' them with something I am not certain their 'blue collar' crowd would be interesting in, but it really shows off my talents? Or do I play it safe, and do what I think would go with their current menu? I have to say, I haven't cooked this kind of food in awhile (I have worked at mostly fine dining restaurants), and I eat pretty much that way at home (when I get to eat at home, that is). I am totally not trying to sound like a snob, but we just like more complex food.
Please help me not lose sleep about this interview. Its literally the biggest interview of my life.