I sympathize with your predicament. Hiring is a difficult process. Naturally I would be perfect for your operation but I'm not moving any time soon. Lol.
In all seriousness, a couple of thoughts come to mind.
Is there any one you can promote out of those you are training up?
If not, I will ask for a little clarity.
What are your expectations for the qualities a real deal chef will have?
Everyone you hire with experience is a flake? While everyone who hires has horror stories, so does everyone who got hired. You state that you know it will be hard to let go… Did you let go with the flakes?
I ran a restaurant with my parents for many years. If I am honest, we were all a bit "flaky" in our own way. We had many, many arguments about everything. That often meant employees getting the shrapnel. I am proud to be able to say that we managed to hire a lot of good people who chose to remain with us for many more years than I expected despite our "flakiness".
For the sake of this post, I will speak as the perfect candidate for the job you are looking for. Experienced, organized, calm under pressure, culinary degree, creative, etc. I have everything you want. I'm also exceptionally good looking, a member of Mensa, play numerous musical instruments and am quite the undiscovered painter. .
My questions to you are the following.
Do I get access to sales reports, food costs and all the other information I need to make good decisions?
Will you as the owner talk only to me regarding kitchen employees or will you undercut my authority by disciplining employees without my input? Can I hire and fire at will? Any family members in the kitchen I will have to tolerate? (Btw, your cousin/sister/nephew is an idiot with a bad attitude and needs to be let go)
Everyone loves your food. Really? Your recipe for a particular dish sucks, it doesn't sell much and isn't profitable. My recipe is demonstrably better. I have made the dish for you and you agree it tastes better, has better presentation and is more profitable. Is there an issue or can we drop your recipe and use mine immediately?
There are organizational issues in the kitchen that are causing problems when it gets busy. I need to change things around so I can make service go smoother. This may involve losing or changing production for certain menu items, transferring employees to a different position, moving equipment to ease the flow, recommending the purchase of new equipment or small wares to make things easier. I am quite willing to discuss this with you to better understand relevant costs and other issues but I can and did demonstrate how my ideas will improve service in terms of time, quality and stress reduction. Will you be open minded?
The kitchen has ironed out production issues at the height of service. The remaining problems are caused by the front of the house and the inability of the manager to work with me to iron out service issues. (See other posts on chef talk regarding how to contact waitstaff to pick up their orders in a timely fashion, among other FOH issues.)
You are paying me salary, not hourly. I have organized things so that the kitchen runs well even if I am not there. Employees follow recipes, discipline is tight, morale is high, cleanliness was never better. I have a dentist appointment on Wednesday at 2pm. Is that a problem?
These are just some of my concerns. There are others but let us start with these.
You remind of the "throwing stones while living in a glass house" saying. Your post says to me that you and your parents are successful but are a bit hamstrung because EVERYONE with culinary experience is a flake. That's a big red flag for me.