5 Qualities Your Chef Should Have
The success of every business relies upon its team. This is especially true in the hospitality business; you can have exceptional infrastructure, service and ambience, but your business cannot flourish without a good chef. The definition of a good chef isn’t just having the skills and expertise to deliver the best culinary experience to the customers. It involves a plethora of soft skills which truly makes a chef the master of his or her trade. Just like any other sector, operations in hospitality need to run smoothly and businesses need to make a profit to survive, which can only be achieved by hiring the right people. Since the chef is the backbone of the kitchen, it is very important that employers be absolutely clear about what they are looking for.
In addition to the mandatory technical and creative skills, employers should consider the following factors when hiring their next chef;
The right background
No two kitchens are the same. All kitchens are structured in accordance to the business’s needs, which is why a chef who works in a care home functions differently from a chef working a contract catering job. It is necessary to evaluate the background of the candidate to gain an understanding of their working style. The size of the kitchen or team they previously worked in, the level/position they were at, and the kind of business they worked for i.e. hotel, restaurant, school, care homes, and so on, are important factors in determining whether a person is the right fit for the role being offered. Some people might argue that cooking skills are transferrable and a good chef can perform well in any type of kitchen, but that is simply not true. As a chef’s job is not restricted to cooking, they must adapt to their environment and multitask to ensure the kitchen runs smoothly.
Ability to work under pressure
Perfecting every dish without any time constraints would be a dream come true for every chef, but time is very limited - especially if the workplace is a “cook to order” venue. Peak times of the day, i.e. lunch and dinner, can get very hectic with orders coming in rapidly. Such situations demand a calm and composed, yet effective and efficient, approach. This is why it is important for chefs to be capable of handling pressure. In this quick-paced profession, chefs must be quick on their feet and even quicker to make decisions. Employers need to look for a candidate who can keep their cool and lead the team during crisis and high pressure situations, all while maintaining the quality of the food prepared.
Food safety knowledge
One of most basic qualities a good chef must possess, which is sometimes overlooked, is a sound understanding of food safety and hygiene. A good chef should have extensive knowledge of both. This must include the basics of cross-contamination, cleaning, handling chilled food, cooking, management and using the diary. During the recruitment process, employers must ask the candidates for their most recent Food Hygiene Certificate or ask them to obtain or update it.
Because of the nature of the hospitality industry, chefs, especially the ones working ad hoc, do not always have a set routine for work. Unlike a nine to five office job, their schedules are always changing and their shifts are determined by peak business hours. As a result it is very important to find a reliable candidate who will always show up for the shift on time and will be ready to take on additional responsibility if required. Before making a hire, employers must thoroughly evaluate what the candidate is looking for in terms of working hours, shifts, and salary, to determine if they are a good match for the business.
The structure of a kitchen requires the chef to lead and guide other lower level chefs and the kitchen staff. Since running a busy kitchen requires a lot of planning and time management, it is critical that the chef be an effective communicator with efficient organizational skills. Strong leadership skills are required to manage the entire kitchen team, and, for best results, your chef should be the type of leader who knows how to bring the whole team together and get the job done. It’s very important to find a candidate who will be able to delegate tasks and motivate other team members and meet customers’ satisfaction.
With so much great talent out there today, employers have several options for sourcing quality candidates. The assistance of a hospitality recruiter, with experience and expertise, can make a huge difference to the hiring process as they will go the extra mile to find high quality hospitality professionals for the business and oversee the logistics of the recruitment process.
If you are looking to recruit in this area, Please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Hospitality Consultant, Sonia Czajkowska who specializes in recruitment for the role of chefs of all levels, kitchen and front of house staff, housekeepers, domestic and cleaners, and waiting and bar staff.