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Developing a Refined Taste for Head Chefs

What Restaurant Owners Really Want

You know firsthand the importance of having a strong team in the kitchen. There’s a lot more to it than hiring someone with the right skills and experience. We’re talking about finding someone who fits within the culture of your restaurant and who has a true passion for the craft.

As a hiring manager, you have the power to shape the future of your restaurant by choosing the right leader for your kitchen.

First and foremost, look for someone who made it up the ranks. How quickly did they progress in their career and how fast do they jump ship? When looking at leaders in the kitchen you want to make sure they spent the proper time learning every station. Depends on the context, but most of the time someone who jumps 2 or more stations doesn’t deserve the position. I.e. A line cook applying for an executive chef role, or someone who goes from “Garmo” (Slang for the apps and salads station Garde Manager) to Sous Chef.

But title alone isn't enough. You also need someone who has the ability to lead and manage a team. Look for someone who has experience working in a busy kitchen, who can handle the pressure and keep a cool head in a crisis. This of course comes from working your way up but the kitchen size matters as well. Running a short-order cook role in a 2 person kitchen does not prepare you to take on a team of 10 unless you’ve been in that role before.

And finally, look for someone who fits within the culture of your restaurant. Do you value creativity and experimentation or are you looking for someone who can plug and play the menu at scale? Then look for a chef who shares those values, operational experience, and cuisine styles. If you’re serving hearty Italian food then a chef who spent the last 10 years doing Tapas might not be the best fit. Yes, a good chef can be flexible and carries many techniques across many disciplines, but you need a leader with a proven track record in the direction your business is headed. Otherwise, you’re going to have some weird fusions coming out of the kitchen. After all is said and done and you found the perfect candidate, how do you know this person is legit and isn’t “blowing smoke”’? That's where staging comes in. By inviting potential hires to come and work in your kitchen for a day or two, you can see firsthand how they handle the pressures of the job and how they fit within your team.


So, to all the hiring managers out there, I urge you to develop a refined taste for head chefs.

Look for someone who is passionate, skilled, and fits within your restaurant's culture. And don't be afraid to ask for help finding the right candidate. After all, your head chef is the heart and soul of your kitchen, and finding the right one can make all the difference in the world. We happen to excel at finding, staging, and handing clients the best. Schedule time with Marc today.


Marc LaPierre is a 10-year veteran of the food and hospitality industry, Certified Staffing Professional, and CEO/Founder of Clock’d + SEEN. From cooking in James Beard award-winning kitchens to opening and managing a nightclub in Mexico, he worked every job in the industry. Today he connects professionals looking to advance their careers with clients eager to find an all-star team.


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