A Letter to Read Before A Chef’s Job Interview

Dear Applicant:

Thank you for your interest in working with me and with the kitchen team as well as this company.  Before we get to the particulars and meet at my restaurant for a cup of coffee,  please do yourself a favor and look up the place you are applying to before you accept the interview.  Look up the chef, the menu, the reviews on social media all before you even send the application.  Lets make certain this is the place you want to look at and be a part of.  Know full well that if you live in a 20 mile radius I have given you a weeks advance opportunity to visit the property, eat in the restaurants for any meal before we meet.   Walk through the halls of the building, walk through the restaurant, sit at the bar, perhaps engage with the front of house team.  This interaction can tell you the passion or lack of in the kitchen and the food.  Decide if you believe you can ‘fit the wheel’ of this kitchen before you waste my time.  Decide if these are people you want to be around and represent your efforts in the kitchen.  Would you feel proud having this person serve your food?  Would you spend your money on this food?  Because people do this every day, spend their hard earned money and it provides for many of us a job.  Ask them questions about the menu.  It is a sneak attack on an possible employer.  Be certain I will ask you what you saw and what you can see to change if you work here.  I want to know what your vision is, what purpose do you bring if I were to hire you.  I am dumbfounded at the lack of initiative of prospective culinarians, with the ease of the internet we make life changing decisions but ever so lightly we cannot even start to research a prospective employer.

I want to talk to you about food and kitchens and flavors, I want your feedback on the current menu and what interests you to eat.  One of the highest honors we have is to cook for another chef and if you have any validity, you would appreciate the simple and sublime items on the menu.  I want to know what is on your bucket list of restaurants in any of five global cities.  I want to know where you ate at last, where your favorite restaurant in town is, what chef or restaurant you admire in the world and what cookbook you last purchased.  Most important, I want to know what you cooked on your last day off and why, who was it with?  This exchange, to hear you talk,  this voice pattern of your tastes and passion for cooking for others extends into my kitchen.  You have to like what you do to work here, cooking is natural, like breathing, something we do with other people who like to do it as well and maybe better.  I will probably ask you for menus of your past and current jobs, just to see where you are at and what flavors you drift towards.  A menu also tells me alot about technique in the kitchen and balancing productivity with volume.  I will ask you what you want to learn and what you are able to teach well.  With an ounce of humility, be able to talk about an area in which you are not proficient; ‘know what you don’t know’.

If you live in town, when we meet, I will ask you about your last experience here.  If you have lived in town for anything more than a month and are not familiar with the restaurant, please do not apply.  If you consistently use bases or soup or stock or prefab items on your menus and in your recipes, please do not apply.  If you don’t know how to access social media and traveler reviews, Zagat, ect or any other resource regarding guest experiences, please do not apply.  Hopefully you have left most of your previous employers on a good terms, it is amazing how small the world is and how connected we are as hospitality professionals.  You are only as good as your last service, you are only as good as your last day.

I hope this helps with your career path.

 

Regards,

John

4 Replies to “A Letter to Read Before A Chef’s Job Interview”

  1. Mike,

    Check this out. If you haven’t ever read John’s blog this a recent post and a little insight into what he is looking for in a chef down there, incase you do have the opportunity to apply. Hope you enjoy.

    Morgan

    Morgan Oliver
    919-412-0973
    Moliver@omnihotels.com

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Excellent advice John! I forwarded it on to Mike because it is so full of common sense no matter what kind of work he is looking for. How lucky Omni is to have you!

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