The Complete Guide to Get the MasterChef for Your Hotel

Hire a chef just perfect for your Hotel

To hire a chef just perfect for your hotel is a daunting challenge for every hotelier. After all a recipe has no soul, a chef brings soul to it. This challenge to hire a chef must be met with the correct amount of research and investigation. This is of paramount importance as this will finally get you the right culinary wizard for your kitchen.
In today’s market, it is an accepted fact that ‘not all chefs are created equal’. A good head chef is not someone who just whips up something brilliant in the kitchen that fits your restaurant profile. But he is the person who trains new members, oversees cooking processes. Alongside the major duties of developing the menu and managing the inventory.

Here are a few steps you can take to get the best chef for your restaurant or hotel:

Search them on popular web portals

To hire a chef, it is most advisable to take advantage of web portals. This can be done before every candidate comes in for an interview. Job portals like support a rating system for their candidates. Here, an employer can rate their employees which can be viewed by future employees. It is like a resume in the making for the employees. You should check them out on such portals and check their profile.


Along with this you can also check their personal profiles on social media. You will be able to see their creations and their achievements. Also, a chef active on social media will have a social media persona. So, check if that persona aligns with your brand image. This is important as it will later help you grow your brand visibility.

Ask the right questions to the references/ex-colleagues

All candidates mention references on their resume. But keep in mind that these written references will always be the ones who will give a positive response. So why not think outside the box and go forward with unconventional questions? Ask away the following questions to hire a chef who is to be the master of your hotel’s kitchen.

  • “What was the best dish they made? What was the worst?”
  • “Did they ever mention who was their mentor?”
  • “What did they do to learn?”
  • “How are their skills at training?’
  • “Can you recall anything they did on a consistent basis for self-improvement?”
  • “How do they handle bad guest complaints?”
  • “If you had a special event planned, would you want them to be the chef?”

These questions, as unorthodox as they may seem, give you more accurate information about your candidate. When these questions are being answered, look for behavioural patterns. This includes learning capabilities, leadership qualities and social skills. Apart from culinary skills, you also should be looking out for self-control and self-discipline. It is because a chef is not someone who can only cook great. But is someone who is the leader of your culinary team.

Check your chef for business skills

There are many chefs who know how to cook well and handle a team. But the real trick is in bringing profits while being a master of your craft. So, hire a chef with culinary talent and business acumen. Because without business sense, the chef can turn out to be an Achilles’ heel for your hotel. Your chef need not be an expert at business management. But he must be competent enough. Knowing the basics will always help. There a couple of ways you can test these during the interview.

The “Conceptualize a short menu” test

Here you ask the candidate to prepare a short concept menu. But remember to give him/her an in-depth insight into your brand identity. Now wait and watch. See what they come up with. Evaluate the resulting menu on how well it compliments and enhances your brand identity. Do not hire a chef who conceptualizes a menu that contrast it.

The “Financial control” test

Here comes the mother of all tests. This test helps you evaluate your candidate’s financial control. You start with giving him/her a sample recipe and a sample chart of the ingredients cost. Next you ask them to calculate the price of final dish. You could also add in a twist by giving your candidate a sample data of how frequently this dish gets ordered. Now ask them to calculate an estimate on the quantity of ingredients to be purchased for a week. Hire a chef who is smart in the way he procures and manages his/her inventory.

A test for the best taste

The most important test of all is left. Yes, the taste test. This is also the best time to check the working style of your candidate. A combination of a “Johnny Cash test” and “Mystery Basket test” will tell you everything you need to know about the culinary skills of the candidate. Hire a chef who procures food that suits your brand the best.

The Best Dish Test

This test should be done when the kitchen is free and the candidate has space to work alone in the kitchen. Also remember to hire a chef that your customers remember for all his/her yummy creations.  When the candidate prepares his/her best dish, pay attention to the way they describe it. The tone of voice used and how passionate they are about it.

The Mystery Basket test

Conduct this test after best Dish test. Because by now they will be a little more familiar with the kitchen. In this test, you ask the candidate to prepare you a given recipe. This test helps you to evaluate the way in which the chef works. A lot can be revealed about a chef’s performance just by seeing the way they organize a recipe. Like, are they preparing their surprise recipe in an orderly fashion? Or are they just flowing chaotically? Are they using fine culinary techniques? Are they keeping their workstation clean? Workstation organisation can tell you a lot about a chef’s mindset.

You could time as a stress test factor here. You could 60 minutes to prepare the recipe. Remember to hire a chef who is level headed and efficient.

Tips for Observation and Tasting time

Pay close attention while conducting both these tests. Take notes of their behaviour patterns. Note their comfort level when you stand around them? Try asking them questions while they are preparing to see their reaction. Hire a chef who is cool and calm. Not nervous and irritated. Look for “economy of motion”. Simply put, it is just a way of saying ‘no step taken in the kitchen goes to waste, every step has a purpose’. Think of it this way, a chef sets an example for the team. And if they themselves move about chaotically, the team would act the same. And a kitchen, with all its sharp and hot tools, can become a very hazardous if mixed with chaos.

While tasting, remember, the first bite should bring it all together. At least in the Johnny Cash test. In the second test with the time restriction, check for both the taste and the plating of the food.

Align your goals

After the tests are done, evaluate the best performer. But there is one more criterion to hire a chef that must be considered at this point. The chef’s and your goals must be aligned. Because the last thing you want after a long hiring process is for the chef to leave in a few months’ time.

The best way to do this is to tell the chef the 3 most important things you expect from him. Then you ask him/her to tell you what are the 3 most important things for them. These things need not be work related. They could be things like each week’s Sunday off for some family time. If you both agree on these three things, you are facing the right direction for a successful hire.

Conclusion with a dessert

It is truly a challenge to hire a chef. It is very important that you always go through the whole process. The position of a chef is extremely crucial for brand image of any restaurant/hotel. Therefore, following the entire process is vital. Panic hiring is never the solution.

The lesson behind the process is “how one handles little things is how they will handle big things.” Many chefs fare well in the interview because they know what and when to say, but when it comes to controlling costs or leading a team, things start to fall apart. Many wannabe chefs want to do just the creative stuff and not deal with the business end.

A restaurant/hotel needs both elements in your culinary professional for pulling off a successful concept. Like any well-balanced recipe, you need all the right ingredients to work harmoniously.