Having a new Executive Chef join a club’s team can have a large impact on the performance of the kitchen and member dining experience, either positively or negatively. When preparing for the transition period, a club needs to decide how they will go about the search and what they are looking for in a candidate. Much of what a club needs to look for when hiring an Executive Chef won’t be on their resume. While they may have great cooking skills, not every candidate will hold the leadership skills necessary to run a successful kitchen. To be successful with hiring an Executive Chef, there are specific qualities to look for besides strong culinary skills.
Some of the most important skills for an Executive Chef to have in the kitchen are culinary skills, leadership and communication skills, problem solving skills, organization skills and reliability. While it can be difficult to get a full understanding of these qualities from just an interview, there are questions that can help to give some insight on where an applicant stands. Asking how they respond to criticism, how they have handled more stressful situations, how they stay motivated, and what made them choose a career in the culinary industry are some questions that can help gain insight into a candidate’s personality, competencies and capabilities.
Due to the high pressure, fast-paced environment, and volume of work, being an Executive Chef is a demanding job that requires long hours and a great deal of mental and physical strength in order to succeed. The Executive Chef hire should be able to live up to the demands of the kitchen and perform exceedingly well to see to it that the kitchen is well and thriving. The Executive Chef hire should have the right temperament to manage the intimidating atmosphere. The kitchen can be stressful, and the Executive Chef must navigate it with authority and an excellent command over the team for flawless functioning.
While not a requirement, it is strongly encouraged for candidates to have a Culinary Arts degree along with knowledge of restaurant management software, financial and budgeting knowledge of running a kitchen, and knowledge of food safety and sanitation regulations. An Executive Chef must also have many years of experience, attention to detail, an eye for quality and a shared philosophy with the club. An Executive Chef will need to hire and train staff, create new menus, stay current with culinary trends, oversee purchasing, and of course have the ability to smoothly manage an entire kitchen.
Having strong culinary and management skills is a top priority when hiring an Executive Chef, but it is also necessary to hire a chef who will be highly involved in creating a positive experience for members with the willingness to provide a high level of customer service.