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cooking test for new hires.....

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 

First thing I do after getting a new cook in for an interview is to put out all items needed to make a hollandaise and let them take a shot at it.......if it breaks ....so sorry charlie keep looking....

 

what type of test do you use????

post #2 of 32

Why Hollandaise, just out of curiosity. Do you work in a breakfast/lunch place? I know a few really good cooks who can't make hollandaise, mainly because they've never been asked to in a professional kitchen. It is not something that you find in a lot of places nowadays anyhow, unless, like I said, you are in a place that makes it everyday. 

 

I think asking then to cook a piece of fish, or a steak to a specific temp, will tell you a lot more than a hollandaise test would, just in a practical sense. 

 

Even a good old fashioned egg test would work well too, I think. At least most cooks have done eggs at some point (even just at home) and a lot could be gleaned from how they treat the egg, Mise en place, control of heat, finesse, etc. 

post #3 of 32

I used to do a dexterity test that was timed and used a lego shape that applicants had to recreate and a long bolt that had washers, nuts and caps.  That had a picture and the applicants had to put it together in order of the pic.  IF they made it past that stage we did a Mayo and a blender to see if they could make it and it held.  We had a better than 70% failure rate but we had some really good cooks.

Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #4 of 32

For 30 years I have asked  Make me a French Omellete  and Fine Dice  me an Onion . These two things tell me everything that they are capable off.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 32

Cut something for me, identify cut steaks, fish, fresh herbs.

post #6 of 32

Properly hard boiling an egg or two is a good test if you have them do it along with a couple others. HB eggs are prone to "out of sight, out of mind" lapses, so it's a good way to see if the applicant has good work habits.

post #7 of 32

Nobody can be good at everything, and there's a chance that they're not as good or not practiced in the one thing you pick as a test.  The best test is to hire them, kick them out if htey can't learn quick.

post #8 of 32

I have never been a fan of bringing perspective employees in for cooking tests and have refused

to do them myself, what would happen if they seriously injuried themselves, (kitchens can be very dangerous) since there are not in your employ

they would not be covered under WSIB and would open you up to law suits.

I have always let there resume speak for its self and if they can't do the job we have three months

to let them go no questions asked.

post #9 of 32

So I should hire them go through all the paper work formalities waste their time and mine then let them go.. To me this makes no sense. Most resumes are not worth the paper they are printed on. I have had them tell me "Oh I have not used a knife in a long time"or have not made an omelette in a while?  I got news for them  you never forget how to use a knife or make an omelette.  And if you have not done it in years, the other exuse I get  then I do not want to hire you.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #10 of 32

I sometimes think the whole "make me an omelette" or "roast me a chicken" test to be a little outdated. There is a wide culinary world out there are not everyone is good at everything. I kind of look at it as a decent litmus test, I suppose, but I'd be more interested in (like I said earlier upthread) if they can cook a steak to medium rare and give me a nicely cooked piece of salmon or bass. 

 

Not everyone went to culinary school, trained through a formal brigade (especially nowadays) or is keen enough at home to learn how to make a perfect french omelettes. Maybe they never worked brunch so they don't know how to do a hollandaise. 

 

Cooking encompasses a lot of techniques, disciplines and styles. It is perfectly reasonable to think that not everyone who is a good line cook can make an omelette, or roast a chicken, or make a hard boiled egg. 

 

I know a guy who is probably the best grill cook I have ever seen. Beyond being a hard worker, fast, etc and all that, he cooks just about damn near everything correctly (when he does have a steak or chop come back, it is usually because the guest wants it different than how they ordered it). But I'm pretty sure he couldn't make a french omelette. If course, my point if moot if the job he is applying for requires him to make omelettes, but assuming that is not true than it might be easy to overlook someone like that if they fail the test.

 

I think a lot of places ask for a trail, too. I've never got hired as a line cook without doing a trail, but I only had to cook for my job (meaning make the chef a dish to eat) once I think.

post #11 of 32

Not sure if it's just an american thing but in 20 odd years working in Canada I've never seen someone do a 'cooking test' nor have I ever been asked to do one.

 

After working for a few months I've been asked to prepare a dish for specials and present it to the owners / chef.  

I've seen aspiring leads or sous' be asked to make a few dishes to show what they have etc.

 

But I've never seen someone who isn't employed let loose in the kitchen, even during slow hours.  Hell even doing a stage is pretty uncommon here in western Canada.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #12 of 32

I look for movement and technique and speed and cleanliness more then looking at the omelette.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

I look for movement and technique and speed and cleanliness more then looking at the omelette.

EXACTLY!!!!

 

That was the point of our tests as welll.  While they were being tested they were being talked too, reminded of how long was left so they felt pressure and even "accidentally" bumped into by another cook to see if they maintained.  It wasnt 100% about their ability to cook or make a Mayo, more about how they handled the situation and the surroundings.

Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Reply
post #14 of 32
I'm a believer in just asking them to go into the walk in and making you something. You can watch the way they work, and give them the chance to show you what they do well. I can take five minutes to teach you something, for me it is more important to see how well you work after that. I also would have someone stage for a full day, that is pretty typical.
post #15 of 32

For me, that last thought from soccotash was the best. There have been some others too, but I've kinda got little use for tests that have got nothing to do with with things not produced in the kitchen of the particular job. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #16 of 32

Oh I dunno, maybe we should be looking at experience indirectly related to the kitchen work.

I'm thinking.....experienced jugglers, plate twirlers, high-wire balancing acts, memory feat performers,

complex multitaskers, and maybe ex agents, soldiers or others trained to endure great stress

without crumpling. biggrin.gif

post #17 of 32

I think that is exactly what chefhow and I said. I know I don't care how omelette comes out.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #18 of 32

Yeah, that makes sense...the looking at the movement, care, speed, etc. Let me ask you this--if someone just worked "ok," meaning they were a little on the slow side, a little sloppy, etc, but the omelete was 100% perfect, would they get the job? Or lets say the opposite, they worked immaculate, were very fast, organized, etc, but the omelete was burned and overcooked, would they get the job?

 

Just curious how that would play out.

 

I agree that seeing them cook, whether it is a cooking test or a shift-long trail/stage, is vitally important.  

post #19 of 32

Nerves would be a considering factor. If overcooked OK  but if burned while he  or she is standing in front of it  NO.. My outlook has always been that there was 3 million people in New York, I just interviewed one, so therefore I still have the possibility of interviewing 2 million 999000 more. Somwone will get it all right.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #20 of 32

I imagine it depends on the position their applying for. Take a line cook for example, I've known a few people who've prior to working fine dining only worked chains. They were terribly slow in terms of prep and can't work without standardized recipes. But, in return they're incredibly fast getting food off the line once everything is set up. Its been my experience that almost everyone gets good with repetition so it's better to just fine someone willing to learn and prior experience/skill is a bonus.

post #21 of 32
Quote:
"I used to do a dexterity test that was timed and used a lego shape that applicants had to recreate and a long bolt that had washers, nuts and caps.  That had a picture and the applicants had to put it together in order of the pic.  IF they made it past that stage we did a Mayo and a blender to see if they could make it and it held.  We had a better than 70% failure rate but we had some really good cooks."  -chefhow

 

Out of all the recommendations I have to say this method seems to be the best. Why test a possible employee by having them do some cutting, cooking or trail for a shift and see how they react in the kitchen setting? I think a timed dexterity test involving lego shapes that have to be recreated and a long bolt that has washers, nuts and caps and a picture is the ideal judgement of a good cook. Its clear, gets to the point, and not confusing at all. Second, you can pretty much walk into any kitchen at any time and hear the sound of someone whipping up a batch of mayo in the blender. I think the two combined are a perfect test of culinary aptitude. Those 70% of people applying for a culinary position need to get back to training if they can't accomplish those kitchen staples. Chefhow, how would I go about procuring/recreating this lego shaped dexterity test? And what is the standard time limit you would use to judge?

 

Genius thumb.gif

post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by ez13 View Post

 

Out of all the recommendations I have to say this method seems to be the best. Why test a possible employee by having them do some cutting, cooking or trail for a shift and see how they react in the kitchen setting? I think a timed dexterity test involving lego shapes that have to be recreated and a long bolt that has washers, nuts and caps and a picture is the ideal judgement of a good cook. Its clear, gets to the point, and not confusing at all. Second, you can pretty much walk into any kitchen at any time and hear the sound of someone whipping up a batch of mayo in the blender. I think the two combined are a perfect test of culinary aptitude. Those 70% of people applying for a culinary position need to get back to training if they can't accomplish those kitchen staples. Chefhow, how would I go about procuring/recreating this lego shaped dexterity test? And what is the standard time limit you would use to judge?

 

Genius thumb.gif

lol

post #23 of 32

To each his own.  I give a new hire a week on the line, raw-dog.  If it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out.  I don't care if you know what brunoise is.  I don't care if you can make a proper french crepe.  If I'm hiring you to cook meats, I want to see if you can do just that, and line service is the only way I'll be able to tell.  Same with saute, I don't care if you don't know how to make demi-glace...but can you make a pan sauce?  Do you know the difference between toasted and burnt?  Can you sear things and pass them on without hesitation?  You have to let the individual show you what they've got to offer.

post #24 of 32

at 15 years of doing this starting as a fry cook with no formal training, becomming the executive chef of one of the best restaurants in key west, id have to say i never thought of doing this. i really sought out my employees, but i had a small kitchen. I have seen plenty come and go but everyone deserves a chance. i would never have come up with a chance to fail. Ill teach you the menu then do it. if not move on. theirs always a diamond in the rough.

post #25 of 32

I've only had one cooking test which was to include  a starter, entree and contorno of whatever I wanted.  That was for a well known restaurant opening sous job.  I've never seen, been apart of or heard of anyone getting a cooking test for a line cook position.  I mean, you have the person trail and they take direction, competently complete tasks, don't talk too much, have general skill and asks relevant questions, I think thats enough.  From there you work on molding them into 'your' cook.  I think asking a cook to make a mayo, dice an onion, truss a (edit) chicken or glaze a (edit) carrot is limiting and a waste of time.  A chef who is doing any hiring should be able get a sense of person by their swag, not if they can clarify a (edit) consomme.

post #26 of 32

This is all very interesting....I am about to have one of these testings done....I'm totally down to do it seeing that this is for a great step up in my career. Though I am going to participate in this demo, IT'S MY FIRST TIME!!!! I am thankful for this shot at an awesome position(in which I will suceed)....however..I have a few questions. What is a great entree for this sort of demo? I have 1 hour to blow 2 people away with flavor, creativity, and presentation. I am selecting 10 ingredients to complete my mission. I have some basic knowledge of kitchen terminology;I find it odd that very basic and elementary foods/techniques require names that boast this idea of greatness..its false advertising!-joke...but that's a side comment apart from my reply so anyways, yeah I have decided that though I appreciate the versatility of the chicken breast, Its probably not going to scream: I'm unique and adventurous eat me!!! I have two questions-what does the typical pantry consist of? I will have full access to the pantry, needing not to request the ingredients in the pantry. So I'm just choosing protein,starch and fruit/veg within the 10 ingredient parameter..right? Help plz laser.gif

post #27 of 32

ChefGirl47:  You sound underqualified and therefore overwhelmed.  Even if you were to get some ideas for these demo dishes, and get the job, what's next?  You're going to keep coming back here for suggestions?

Do your own research, your own self-educating through shitloads of reading, testing at home etc, and then pick some dishes that you feel comfortable with and that play to your strengths.

 

And for the record, what you're going through is not at all what this posting was about.  Huge differences in the job requirement of a private chef versus someone looking to join a team.

post #28 of 32

It often depends on the position.  After wasting time sitting down with interviewees for my prep guy/dishwasher position as part of a very small staff, I started a simple potato peeling test.  After all, peeling potatoes WAS listed as one of the requirements in my ad posting.  I had 2 potatoes and a peeler on each side of a work table.  I'd have the guy get started while I walked around the kitchen, keeping an eye on him.  Then I'd come over and start peeling my 2 potatoes.  I wasn't doing it as a race, though.  I was doing it as a benchmark and as a way of offering concrete reasoning why I wouldn't hire him.  One guy who was really fast got hired, but was a cancer in the kitchen, lazy and unreliable.  I let him go after 4 days.  Another young guy came in with a great attitude and willingness to learn, followed my instruction for a better methodology of peeling, and he's been working for me part-time since.

Litmus tests can work, depending on the position, but I find for many positions, it's all about attitude and aptitude for learning and improving.  "Easily Trainable" is a gold standard for a new hire.

post #29 of 32

thanks chef....but i have an unseen advantage...anionted hands and serious passion. I did get the position and left the staff "very impressed"

post #30 of 32
Your 'anointed hand' must not have touched those Sysco pre-ground spices, breadcrumbs and distilled vinegar. God willing...
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