Hiring a chef who is just right for your needs is a difficult business; so how does one go about doing it? 

Be clear on what you are looking for

There is little point in hiring a chef who will clearly not be able to deliver what you are looking for both in menu, consistency of cooking, and the management functions that go along with the job. Be clear in the type of food you want to serve, the presentation you will require, and the management duties you need your chef to undertake in order to run your kitchen successfully.

Managing a kitchen
Some of the functions undertaken by your chef in addition to creating and or helping to create a menu will include purchasing food, ensuring that it is kept appropriately, keeping track of the kitchen inventory, and ensuring that costs are kept in line with your desired profit percentages. Some of these tasks may be delegated to other members of your staff but your chef will need to know how to do this and to get along with those other staff members. You may also want to consider whether your current work force contains anyone who will want to make the most of any opportunity to learn about cooking, and factor that into assessing how a candidate might manage these functions.

Be realistic
If you are running a small venue that delivers simple, fast dishes, it is unrealistic to expect to employ a chef who can summon up the skills to deliver a fine dining experience. Clarify your mission statement, eg what do you want to deliver consistently and become known for. You can then hire to that specification rather than cast a general net.

Research background
When hiring a chef make sure you acquire as much sound information about that person’s career, background and experience as you can. Getting to know who you are hiring as much as possible is a good start to a working relationship and a successful choice of candidate.

Don’t be afraid to enlist help
There is nothing wrong with talking to other venue operators and owners who may know of someone you might want to interview or indeed avoid. There are also agencies that will be happy to help you with your recruitment needs such as Chefhelp (http://www.chefhelp.co.uk/) If you lack the confidence to ‘go it alone’ in your hiring, do approach an agency.