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What do chefs want?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi all- I am about to start the process of hiring a chef for a new startup in Seattle.  Bistro, tapas (authentic southern Spain), wine bar.  I have a location and am working with an architect on the design.  The place already has a good-size kitchen, although depending on the final menu and chef I find it likely we will need to swap some equipment.  I intend to find a chef to help finalize my existing menu, give input on all other BOH decisions (and some FOH ones too), help recruit the rest of BOH staff, and open up next year.

 

Anyway, I am curious to how the other side sees the approach- those of you who are chefs, what do you (did you) look for when seeking a new job?  Beyond the "Salary DOE" that I see, what are some of the more subtle things which attracted you to your current job?  What kinds of things do you look for in a job ad or look to learn in an interview?

 

Just want to understand the other side, thanks for the advice.

post #2 of 11

Some level of autonomy and clearly drawn borders of what falls under chef's control

post #3 of 11

Usually when accepting a job i tend to look at the menu , get an idea if it can be executed in the kitchen i may be working at. 

Obviously i look at the kitchen , the space , the equipment.

Ask where are produce comes from. 

I usually take a look at the FOH too , just to see if its nice. 

 

Then i ask about the salary XD 

 

I work as a line cook , but i usually consider any interview a chance i have to ask as many questions as i feel necessary , so i dont regret taking a job. 

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #4 of 11

Full responsibility for all BOH operations and complete authority over BOH and FOH :roll:

 

After that, pay, benefits, etc. are all negotiable.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 11

Respect and no micro manager hanging over me.  The buck ends with me so to speak so I call the shots in the kitchen. After  50 years I can almost walk into a place that is going to open, talk to manager or owner and pretty much tell if the place will be in busines in  3 monthes. So far I have been wrong three times out of God knows how many.

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 #6 of 11

I look for a place with an owner that shares similiar business philosophies and outlook on life as myself.

 

An owner that will back me up.

 

The ability to fire staff under my command, with no exceptions and without having to get approval.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #7 of 11

If I were applying for a head chef's position I would not want a menu written from someone else that I need to execute. No offense but I do not know if you are a chef or not but if you're not and you're writing a menu I would laugh and walk out of the interview. I understand owners want certain things, can't take this or that off etc. etc. to SOME degree but you need to trust a chef to lead you where you need to be food wise. The title of Chef is earned, it doesn't make an owner a chef (or smart for that matter) to write up a menu on his own.

 

- Also would not want an owner who micro-manages, this only pisses people off.

- Freedom to hire and fire BOH employees as I choose. A Chef knows better than anyone how a person will perform and get along in his kitchen, an owner who spends no time in the kitchen is making personnel decisions on their point of view which is not accurate. Had an owner who would hire BOH employees who did great in interviews but would flounder terribly in the kitchen.

- And number one would being on the same page as the owner. If a chef and an owner are going into 2 different directions it's bound to fail.

post #8 of 11

What area of Seattle? Just curious.

I'm not sure what your MO is, but I'd hire a chef to help design the kitchen in addition to the designers (CMA?). I've been on the team a few times along with architects and designers and there can be a lot of bickering, but I think in the long run it's the best way to go. Menu planners help you get it up and running and will have menus and recipes so it can be all cookie-cutter for you, but... I mean, it looks good on paper for a bank or an accountant, but it sucks to come in as a chef and have to employ someone's menu that looks good on paper.

I re-read your post and realize that I'm answering questions that weren't asked. I had my little vent. Felt good.

As an owner/operator you have full right to opine about the menu, but I'd want at least an 80/20 split. I'd want to know who the FoH manager is and see if we click. Other than that...  $$$. When do I start?

Seriously, though, what is the salary for a chef in Seattle? $50k?

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefWanted View Post
Just want to understand the other side, thanks for the advice.

Not trying to be a wise guy even though it will probably come across that way; but I look for employment that doesn't consider me as the other side. I look for a true team atmosphere throughout the entire operation. A "we" place, not a "us and them" place.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Makes sense, and I didn't necessarily mean it that way.  I have been on both sides of the interviewing table for a variety of roles and levels and have a pretty good idea of what I am looking for from as I called it "the other side" (of the table).  Really this just means all the stuff beyond compensation, the details and nuances of the management.  Not being a chef myself, I am curious as to what are the key things that appeal or don't appeal to a chef looking for a position.  Ultimately we need to have a good connection and be on the same page.  So far I have seen a lot of feedback regarding autonomy and the amount of control a chef has on the BOH as well as FOH.  Not too surprising, yet the responses show just how important it is to clearly articulate these details.

post #11 of 11
I am a chef and an owner. 2 restaurants, large cafe/bakery and a lunch service for school students and large catering. I have chef/partners in the restaurants in tge restaurants and the bakery/cafe. They enjoy pretty much carde blanch, 2 reasons, Im stuck with a lot of admin work, and second but just as important, the right chef with a vested intrest( partner ) will make things work because he/she have the boots on the ground. Dont get me wrong, Im in all my places at least 3 times a week, and Im always in contact, but with the right people in place I sleep well at night. Find the right person, partner up and give them the stars to reach for.
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