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How to find a chef

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

What is the best way to find a chef to help develop a menu?  I've tried craigslist and googled every search word I can think of and am not successful.  Im leaning towards hiring a private chef for maybe a week straight and just have them make a bunch of recipe for me to taste?  But how do I know if they are a creative chef or just a homestay mom looking to make a few bucks on the side.  Any suggestions?

 

BTW if you are a chef in Orange County, CA contact me!

post #2 of 20

I am not trying to take anything away from private chefs, but developing a menu for a restaurant takes a skill set beyond just being able to cook amazing food.

 

Cooking in a restaurant is a whole nuther ball of wax and developing a menu for one is much more complex than it appears on the surface. Will the menu work with the equipment and layout of the kitchen? Does the menu keep in mind the inevitable crunch times? Is it distributed through the different stations on the line to insure efficiency? Etc. etc. etc.

 

These are just a few, and I repeat, a few of the considerations to take into account when developing a menu. The finished product on the plate is only the tip of a very large iceberg.

 

Contact culinary schools about instructors that might be interested in a consulting side job, but trust me that even if they are instructors that is no guarantee that they know how to develop a menu that will work for your application. My best advice in filtering through any potential candidates is to look for someone with lots of experience as a hands on line working head chef.

 

The whole thing is a bit of a "Catch 22" in that the person with the ability to determine which candidate might be best qualified to develop a menu, is someone who is experienced in developing menus.

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 #3 of 20
Thread Starter 


Do you know of anyone that could help me from this forum?

post #4 of 20

Are you in the concept stage or do you already have an existing space?

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 #5 of 20

Have you checked out the local chapter of the ACF?

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 #6 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am still at concept stage.  I wanted to decide on the menu before I get into what equipment I would need.  I did look up local ACF but those chefs are so decorated theres no way they would give me the time of day.  I am looking for someone who's got experience and know how to develop a small menu for me with food that can be made within reasonable time frame for a brunch cafe.  

 

1.  I would pay for the consultation and I would fly to you so we can work on the menu. (within USA)

2.  After I build out the cafe, I would pay for your entire trip + wages to train my line cooks.  (maybe 1-2 weeks?)

 

 

Im looking to create 6-7 brunch items,  7-8 all day cafe food, 5 deserts, 5 appetizers, and maybe a couple soups.  With most items priced at around $10-15.  

 

If you are a chef in between jobs right now or possibly retired this is a good opportunity for you.  Im assuming creating the menu can be done in maybe a week if I fly to your commercial kitchen and do a bunch of tastings?  I would pay for a weeks worth of your time.  And then 5-6 months down the road I'll expense a trip for you to come to my cafe and train my line cooks and I'll pay for your time training my staff at that time as well.

 

Im trying to create a small boutique style brunch cafe with quality comfort food around under 3,000 sq ft.

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

By the way I wanted to add to my above post.  Just to inform any potential chefs reading this, I do have restaurant experience.  I current am a part owner of an asian cuisine restaurant.  However I am not a chef, I'm the business operator.  I did not want to come off sounding like a dreamer trying to open my first restaurant.  It was much easier finding chefs for my first venture because theres so many asian chefs around my area.  But this time around with the brunch concept, its been hard for me finding someone qualified.  Hope I can meet someone who can help me on this forum.  Thanks for reading!

post #8 of 20

What timeline are you looking at on the menu development? Do you have a desired target date?

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 #9 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am flexible, but i do wish to start a dialogue with any potential consultant soon to iron out compensation and other details.  The sooner the better for me, hopefully this month.   You are interested or do you know someone who can help me?

post #10 of 20

A consultant is definitely the better way to go for a project like this. As valuable and important as it is to have a great menu developed, it is just as, if not more important for it to be budgeted and executed properly. There are a ton of consulting chefs out there, but what I would suggest you focus on is their education first and experience second. Having been to the CIA myself, I know CIA graduates receive at tremendous amount of education on food costs and budget preparation which will ultimately make or break any food service business. As for their experience and culinary knowledge, again, education will help, but ultimately you should interview them as you would any chef by asking them typical culinary basics questions such as what are the 5 mother sauces, what is the standard ratio for a vinaigrette, etc. Once you've established that they know the basics, ask to see pictures and most importantly I think, ask them what type of food they like to cook or have the most experience in. If it coincides with what you are trying to accomplish, that consultant is probably a safe bet.

 

Keep in mind that any new concept will typically go though an evolution throughout the course of the first several months as you see what works and what doesn't so you may want to consider keeping them on retainer for a while so you have a go to resource to keep the positive momentum.

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 


I'll offer any consultant good money for my project.  Name your price.

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjohnny View Post
 


I'll offer any consultant good money for my project.  Name your price.

 

Have you tried an online search?

Los Angeles has a large handful of firms...

 

mimi

post #13 of 20
Thread Starter 


Do you know of a few firms in LA that I can look up?

post #14 of 20

Pull up the google search engine and type in restaurant consultants

Print out a list put it on the wall and throw a dart at it lol.

 

mimi

post #15 of 20
Lol, right. A five minute search provided me with an article in l.a. Confidential magazine enumerating a list of high end consultants, and a couple other sites like discoverchefs.com and alacarteconsultinggroup.com
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 

Flipflop girl,

 

I know you are laughing at me but if you look closely at a lot of the top 5 search listing on google they are really large consultation firms with clients that are corporate chains and hotels.  For me to use them to do a small menu for a brunch cafe would be kind of silly.  Also a few of the firms I called also wants to package in blue prints/kitchen equipment so they can up charge me, serviced that I do not need.  

post #17 of 20
I am not sure why you are focusing on hiring a consultant rather than a full-time employee. Although a consultant could create a bangup menu, the chef you eventually hire will be the person who is responsible for executing this menu.

If your chef uses fresh local ingredients, he/she will be reliant on the local farmers' market. Will a consultant know your local market?

Since you are still in the concept stage, what tools and equipment will be available for use? Will there be sufficient refrigerated and frozen storage? How many stoves and ovens will you have? How will you hot hold food? Without an appropriate kitchen, your chef will be unable to execute this menu.

On a final note, why are you interested in opening a restaurant? It doesn't sound as though you have any restaurant experience and if you don't have a culinary background, you will be putting your hopes, dreams, and money in the care of a chef who could make or break your business.

The restaurant business is extremely competitive. Do you have a location? Are you sufficiently capitalized to support your business for the time it will take to become successful?

Since you don't have a menu, you probably haven't analyzed the competition to identify their strengths and weaknesses. How will your restaurant stand out from the others?
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjohnny View Post
 

Flipflop girl,

 

I know you are laughing at me but if you look closely at a lot of the top 5 search listing on google they are really large consultation firms with clients that are corporate chains and hotels.  For me to use them to do a small menu for a brunch cafe would be kind of silly.  Also a few of the firms I called also wants to package in blue prints/kitchen equipment so they can up charge me, serviced that I do not need.  

 

First I don't know you well enough to share a joke.

Second you sounded so pitiful ....

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by iamjohnny View Post
 


I'll offer any consultant good money for my project.  Name your price.

 

I thought I would just point out the one piece of advice not given...the internet is the first place most people look when needing answers (anything for that matter).

 

Third I cannot vet the consultants for you....this is why I suggested the search (which pretty much anyone with any experience would have done first).

You don't like what you see then just leave it on the table.

 

Good luck...

 

mimi

post #19 of 20

I still don't understand this fixation on finding a consultant. 

 

My first piece of advice is that if you don't know the restaurant business - DON'T GET INTO IT. It can be a proverbial money pit and if you are relying on the expertise of others, you'll be at their mercy. If they're dishonest or incompetent, they'll run your costs through the roof and you'll go out of business ... or they could hold you up for blackmail threatening to quit if you don't give them X, Y, and Z. 

 

I think restaurant owners should be cross trained in all areas of their restaurant so that they may move from host/hostess to cashier to prep cook to line cook to server as needed - especially on busy nights or if there's a problem with a no call / no show employee. 

 

Instead of a consultant, find your chef. I don't know how big your operation will be and whether you'll be setting up a full brigade system or if you'll have a working chef instead who will work with some line cooks or prep cooks. 

 

If you insist on getting into the restaurant business, hire a chef. Go old school. Advertise in the paper. Put an ad out on a job board like Indeed.com. Talk to local Culinary schools. 

 

Yes - you could hire a consultant ... but as I previously said, what if your consultant has skills that the chef you wind up hiring doesn't have? What if your consultant creates a wonderful menu that is not cost effective or even practical to make given the tools and equipment available in your kitchen? This is YOUR restaurant, so it's in your vested interest to have the business do well. 

 

Do you have any idea of what you'll be serving? Have you identified your target market? Do you have a location? Have you identified the competition? These are all things that YOU should be doing. 

 

I once knew a restaurant owner who came up with an astounding 24 page menu. His kitchen was only equipped with one 4 burner stove and one conventional oven. The kitchen crew couldn't possibly execute the menu because they lacked the tools and equipment they needed. Not only did they have insufficient stoves and ovens but they had no prep tables, no baker's racks, no hot holding equipment, no proofers, no mixers, and no food processors or blenders. The restaurant quickly went out of business. The staff moved on to other jobs but the owner had taken out a 2nd mortgage on his house and was up to his eyeballs in debt. 

 

This preoccupation of finding a consultant who will wave his magical toque and create a spectacular menu that will be unique and will undercut any possible competition is a fanciful pipe dream. You're putting all of your eggs in one basket without doing the due diligence on your part ... i.e. identifying the target market, finding a location, identifying the competition etc. 

 

You could lose your shirt on this if you're not careful. 

 

If you have never worked in the food service industry, I think you should take a part time job working at a restaurant. See what it's like. You may find that the nuts and bolts of running a restaurant are not nearly as attractive as they may look on TV while watching Food Network programs like Restaurant Impossible. 

 

Running a restaurant takes a lot of time, sweat, tears, and money. 

 

If you want your restaurant to succeed, forget about being an absentee owner. Forget about a 40 hour work week. Forget about having nights, weekends, and holidays off. Be prepared to roll up your sleeves and to work, work, and work some more.

post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DC1346 View Post

On a final note, why are you interested in opening a restaurant? It doesn't sound as though you have any restaurant experience

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DC1346 View Post
 

My first piece of advice is that if you don't know the restaurant business - DON'T GET INTO IT.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamjohnny View Post
 

 I do have restaurant experience.  I current am a part owner of an asian cuisine restaurant.  However I am not a chef, I'm the business operator.  I did not want to come off sounding like a dreamer trying to open my first restaurant.

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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