The restaurant business is tough and competitive, but the main challenge is — there are no magic tricks that can help you rise above the competition. If your food is no good, you go out of business, and no fancy service, supreme locations, or outstanding interior designs will help you stay on the float. That’s why a chef is probably the most important person in your restaurant business. And, like any great professionals, truly great head chefs are hard to find. Still, we will try to explain this challenging process step-by-step, so dig in!
Head Chef Main Responsibilities
First things first — what exactly is a head chef supposed to do? The actual job responsibilities will depend on the scale of your business (i.e., a single restaurant or a chain), but usually, they will go down to the following duties.
Controlling Food Preparation Process
This responsibility is definitely the primary one. A head chef will not be the one doing the mundane work, but he is definitely in charge of all kitchen processes and the ultimate results. If you have a restaurant chain, you still need just one head chef who would be overseeing the same processes across different venues. In that case, your head chef will be free to appoint sous-chefs of his own, but that is a topic for another article.
Taking Charge of Inventory and Stocking
Essentially, the head chef is the one responsible for the larger picture of what happens in your restaurant. That’s why head chefs are traditionally the people who run the supplies and kitchen inventory. In a way, the head chef is also the top manager in your kitchen, which is why stocking is also their job.
Tasting and Approving New Recipes
Usually, the head chef will have some unique recipes to add to your menu, but he will also be the one to approve any new recipes from other cooks. The responsibilities of the head chef imply controlling the quality of everything that comes out of your restaurant kitchen, and that means tasting dishes and fine-tuning their cooking processes.
Designing the Menu
Besides tasting the dishes, the head chef will be responsible for designing the entire menu. No matter how long or short, the job implies offering a list of delicacies in line with your restaurant theme, your target customer’s preferences, and your restaurant capabilities. It is not just about offering a random list of dishes; it’s about suggesting a logical menu where every item would always be available to order.
Overseeing Health Quality and Safety
Besides taking charge of the actual dishes, the head chef is also responsible for the sanitary processes in your kitchen. Head chefs are in charge of dealing with the Health Department representatives, so it is up to them to make sure everyone working in the kitchen follows health safety regulations at all times.
Representing the Kitchen
Finally, the head chef is the face of your restaurant. He will be the one talking to the clients, taking compliments, or accepting criticism. While the head chefs will not always be doing the actual cooking, the results will always be their responsibility — just as representing your restaurant and its reputation.
Qualities to Look for in a Head Chef
Obviously, handling such a range of job duties requires a certain temperament, so let’s look at some personal qualities a good hire should have.
Obviously, given the scope of your head chef’s responsibilities, you’d want someone with experience, especially when running a restaurant chain. Of course, a person without prior head chef experience can also be a good fit for a single restaurant, especially if this person has some of the following qualities and determination to learn on the job. Still, you will need to look for someone with previous experience in the food industry — that’s for sure.
Running a restaurant or a chain of venues is a challenging job, so stress-resilience is a must. Besides, the best head chef should also have an even temperament because accidents and misunderstandings do happen — especially, in a busy kitchen. So, the best hire for your business should have the character to cope with challenges without breaking apart.
Good Finance Skills
Since your head chef will be responsible for supplies and inventory, the person should be budget-minded. Besides, designing a menu also calls for budgeting skills. The trick is to find the best balance between price and quality, so basic budgeting is a must.
Ability to Take Criticism
No matter how talented of a cook your head chef might be, it is impossible to please anyone. Besides, coming up with new recipes is a creative process that often implies collaboration with others. The best head chefs are always ready to accept new ideas and adequately react to criticism — both from colleagues and clients.
Willingness to Learn and Innovate
Speaking of creativity and taking criticism, the best head chef is someone who is always learning, improvising, and never stops fine-tuning one’s professional skills. Without creativity and innovation, it would be impossible to retain new customers and attract new ones — at least, not in the competitive restaurant business.
Now, Where Exactly Do You Look?
Now that you have a pretty good idea of the head chef’s duties and professional qualities, the question is — where do you find such a top expert? Sure, the most obvious way to fill any vacancy is to post a job posting online, but such ads do not always attract the professionals we need. As a rule, active applicants — that is, people regularly looking through job postings — do not have enough skills and experience to fill in top positions. On the other hand, people who are currently employed and have the right skills, aka passive candidates, hardly ever have the need to actively apply for the job postings because they get enough new job offers on a daily or are busy overseeing their own restaurants. Obviously, it would be better to try to attract an experienced head chef, but how?
In the competitive restaurant industry, many business owners try to attract their competitors’ employees — especially if the chef has already proven his skills and experience. On the other hand, going from one restaurant to another hoping to catch a glimpse of the chef is a time-consuming process that can hardly be called productive. Fortunately, in today’s digital world, you can always find someone’s contact details and reach out via any channel, from phone to email. The best professional platform to start with is LinkedIn — a top tool for hiring professional experts in all sorts of industries. It’s free, often effective, but still has its limitations.
It is also possible to make use of professional recruiting software that can easily help you find a specialist worldwide — literally any specialist, including a head chef. SignalHire is a top example of such a tool. The website is a multi-million database of verified professional contacts that support individual and bulk search by name, industry, job titles, companies worked, skill sets, and many other parameters.
Going back to our dilemma, all you need to do is type head chef in the database search, and the system will return hundreds of relevant profiles filtered by location or any other criteria you have in mind. You can immediately get access to experienced candidates’ contact info, analyze their profiles, and get started with your job negotiations. And the best part? The first five searches are free, so if you’re not a professional recruiter searching for new job candidates on a daily, you won’t even need to pay a dime.
Now, you’re fully equipped to get started with your search for a head chef who will take your restaurant to a new level. Good luck!