Hiring a chef for a cloud kitchen? Do it the right way

Dylan Fedgit, a software engineer by profession, had long harbored a dream of owning a restaurant but the high cost involved in opening one had kept his ambition in check for several years. A few years ago, when Dylan discovered the concept of a cloud kitchen, which could be established and operated at almost half the cost of a traditional restaurant, he immediately jumped on the idea. His expertise in technology and financial structuring helped him set up a robust online ordering and delivery system for this cloud kitchen. But where he fell short, Dylan admits, was in finding an experienced chef who could lead the back-of-house operations.

Hiring a Head Chef for a cloud kitchen is a job easier said than done! He is the one who performs a wide range of duties including but not limited to, inventory management, pricing of dishes, innovating new dishes, assigning responsibilities to cooks and so on to ensure the smooth and effective functioning of a restaurant kitchen.

Like Dylan, if you’re too struggling with finding a great Chef for your cloud kitchen, the below advice will help you get started on the right foot.

Begin with assessing personality traits

You don’t really want an egotistical, “I-Know-It-All” kinda a person in your kitchen, making other cooks’ life miserable. You need someone who’s not only talented in culinary skills but also possess effective leadership traits that can motivate and drive the whole team to perform at their potential best all day, every day without any complaints. To begin with, look for someone who seems open, social, friendly, communicative, empathetic, flexible, and honest.

Next comes the experience

Of course, you need to hire someone who has the experience of handling the entire kitchen operations all by himself. Your Head Chef will be the backbone of your cloud kitchen and you need someone you can rely on completely, so you can focus on other important aspects of growing the business.

It would be ideal to hire someone who has a minimum of 10 years of experience in kitchen operations. Ask for recommendations to ensure that he or she has been a good performer in previous jobs. If possible, call up the owners of those restaurants and enquire about their experience with the candidate. Stay away from anyone who’s known for creating any kind of nuisance in the past.

If you don't mind paying a bomb to the chef, find someone who has won the James Beard Award or been the Head Chef when a restaurant won a Michelin star.

Gauge the ability to be creative and innovative

Once you have shortlisted a candidate on the basis of their personality and experience, it’s time to judge their ability to be creative and innovative in culinary. Give them a practice challenge to be performed on the spot.

For instance; you can provide them with a few handfuls of ingredients randomly selected from the pantry and ask them to create a dish, sweet or savory, in less than 40 minutes.

The intent is to understand their culinary abilities; the ability to be creative, and the tendency to think beyond standards when under pressure. A practical challenge like this will help you assess many valuable qualities of the candidate.

Don’t forget to try a classic recipe

Definitely you want your new chef to bring new dishes to the table, but you also need to make sure that he/she has mastered all the classic recipes that define your restaurant style. So if you want your restaurant to be known for exotic sushis, allow the candidates to present the most classic, evergreen versions of Sushi during their practical challenge. The one who knows his ingredients the best is worth shortlisting for the role.

Consider having a trial period

Since you are hiring a Head Chef for the first time for your cloud kitchen, make sure you o it right so you don’t have to repeat the process. But in case you haven’t found the perfect candidate and the launch date is near, you can consider having a paid trial period to see if the person is really a good fit for your kitchen. “I think this is an excellent way for both parties to see if they are a match for each other. It helps you find out quickly if candidates would stand tall on the expectations of patrons.

Do you have any tips of your own? Share them with us in the comment section below