May 2, 2016

You’ve completed culinary academy, and you’ve learned how to chop, mince, dice and make truly tasty meals.  Now comes the hard part, though: finding a job. But no matter what restaurant you want to work at you may still have doubts. Are you a good fit for your dream job as a sous chef? Do you even have the qualifications to work in that Italian bistro?

While it’s normal to experience these thoughts, you can save yourself the worry by understanding the wants and needs of your future employers and adapting your approach accordingly. Here are just a few things that executive chefs and managers keep in mind as they hire young, exciting talent:

1. Can you keep it cool?
As the WebstaurantStore explained, hiring a chef is a huge decision for any manager or restaurant owner. This chef will not only be responsible for creating food, but training other staff members and developing the restaurant’s overall vibe and culture. That’s why so many eateries want to hire someone with an even temperament. They want someone who won’t fly off the handle, and who knows how to stay cool under big-pressure scenarios. Things are bound to go wrong, and stress is a natural occurrence in most kitchens. But managers need to rely on their chefs to stay levelheaded and focus on the tasks at hand. Make sure they know in the interview that you’re the kind of chef who excels in such an environment.

Three chefs in team in hotel or restaurant kitchen

2. Can you improve operations?
There are a few obvious things that most managers want out of their chefs, like the right credentials and some level of experience. However, as Foodservice Warehouse pointed out, many managers are going to be concerned not just what what you can do but how you can improve their business. Specifically, they will be concerned with your timeliness and your commitment to cutting costs.. For the former, managers want to know that you can keep pace with the demands of the kitchen, cooking meals in a realtively prompt manner. As for optimization, it’s important that the restaurant keep costs low. Chefs can make great meals without using overly costly ingredients. Both of these elements show that you’re focused not just on the food but the business as a whole.

quote thing3. Are you totally reliable?
In August 2015, The Telegraph revealed that the U.K. was facing a shortage of reliable chefs. The cause? Many didn’t want to deal with the long hours and inherent stress of most kitchens. Since this shortage isn’t localized just to the U.K., chefs who are committed to the lifestyle are bound to have more employment opportunities. That’s just as important to stress during your interview. Managers are aware of what life is like in the kitchen, and you have to convince them that your love of cooking is enough to handle the pressure. It won’t always be easy to work in a kitchen but commitment and enthusiasm can be enough to make a profitable career.

4. Did you become a chef for the right reasons?
Tony Maws is the award-winning head chef of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, MA. In an interview with Eater, he said that he’s noticed an uptick in the number of culinary students. Yet at the same time, he explained that he has profound questions about the motivations of these young people. Managers of a restaurant may have the same kind of concerns, and it’s your job to assure them of your intentions. Most chefs will tell you not to enter the field in the hopes of becoming rich and famous, as you might not become the next Rachael Ray or Mario Batali. Instead, you should be in this for the love of food, a desire to serve others and a need to give back to your community. If you come off as genuine and humble, managers will want to keep you around.