January 5, 2016
Being a cook means knowing how to operate in culinary school.

It’s natural for those in culinary academy to contemplate their job prospects. You may be a master at grilling or a whiz with a butcher’s knife, but nonetheless unsure if you have the skills necessary to land a job at your dream restaurant. While your skills in the kitchen are of the utmost important, there are other considerations that owners and hiring managers have in mind when hiring a chef. Here are just a few of the things restaurants are looking for in their culinary gurus:

1. What’s your level of experience?
You may have been the sous chef at your last restaurant, but that might not be the single determining factor. Instead, many restaurants want to look at the entirety of your career. What positions did you have at each kitchen where you worked? How long did you hold each of those roles? How long did it take to get to your most recent job title? All of these and more help to spell out your entire experience, and managers and owners rely on this information to get a detailed look at who you are as a chef.

2. How flexible are you overall?
In some jobs, your title denotes certain expectations and your place in the greater infrastructure. That’s usually not the case in kitchens. Even if you’re a rotisseur, you may have been responsible for a number of other tasks. Perhaps you were simply covering for another chef, or management felt you were best suited for a task normally outside your purview. When trying to find a job, make sure you tell the recruiter or hiring agent. This not only shows how versatile you are, but also that you’re truly dedicated to running the kitchen properly.

3. Do you work well with others?
A successful kitchen is like a well-oiled machine, and just like any such device, it’s only as good as its individual parts. That means you must be able to work effectively alongside your fellow chefs, waiters and any other kitchen staff. Hirers want to know that you’re not looking out for yourself or your own station, and that you can be a genuine team player. That means having excellent communication skills, being a problem solver and freeing yourself of petty disagreements. Don’t be afraid to tell managers how much you value kitchen collaboration.

4. Can you do anything beyond cook?
Nowadays, it’s not enough to simply be great at grilling a steak or baking up cookies. Instead, you need to be able to prove to a potential new employer that you’ve got more than just great knife skills. For instance, they may want to see how you plan a menu and the level of creativity you demonstrate when assembling dishes. They might also be concerned with your ability to pick fresh ingredients. Some restaurants may pay special attention to the prices associated with your dishes, and if you can be cost-efficient, then you just might land yourself the job.

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