Chefs are the unsung heroes of the restaurant world. They work tirelessly behind the scenes, often isolated from the front of house staff and appreciative customers. Isn’t it time we give chefs a special mention? We’ve compiled a list of tips to help chefs run a tight kitchen and set them on the on road to be promoted to Head Chef.
- Learn to lead AND manage
Managers are well versed in directing people to accomplish tasks, planning and organizing towards the desired results and trouble-shooting problems as they arise. A successful chef needs to be a solid manager of both people and things. Leaders help create an environment where people aspire to exceed expectations, seek more knowledge, share common goals and feel like an important part of the team. A chef who wants a long and fruitful career at the helm needs to exude the characteristics of a leader.
- The Top Line Deserves the Bottom Line
Cost controls are essential in every restaurant but it is impossible to use cutting costs as the sole method for obtaining long-term success. One of the many primary tasks expected of a chef will be working on ways to improve sales. This could be done by creating reasons for increased foot traffic through effective menu planning or even building up cheque averages through crafting complementary menu items.
- Data, data and more data
You cannot make an informed decision without data. Some decisions are best when based on gut feelings but these should still be based on a strong foundation of data. As a chef, you need to know how to check averages, which items sell best, why business is better on some days compared to others, how much each of your menu items contributes to the overall financial success, the cost of producing each item, the amount of labour needed to produce menu items, the yield from the different cuts of meat and so on. The more useable date you have, the better. Data is only useful when it is studied and applied.
- Live for today, plan for tomorrow
Great chefs appreciate tradition and are thoughtful when it comes to history and tradition in the kitchen but they are also open-minded enough to study and embrace the changes that will keep a restaurant successful in the coming years. You need to think ahead of the competition and, sometimes, even the customer. Anticipate what people will want in the future.
- Great Food paired with impeccable service
A chef needs to be a master of cooking and have the ability to train cooks to replicate flavours, aromas and presentations that will inspire guests and entice them back again. Being a masterful cook does not equate to restaurant success on its own. It is a major part of the package you sell but is incomplete on its own. To drive the top line, service staff need to have hard knowledge and soft skills that lead to first class customer experiences, higher check averages and return business.
Even if Head Chef is not your dream, these tips are great for setting you apart from other chefs and helping you become a remarkable chef. Don’t forget, all the famous chefs didn’t get to where they are by blending in and doing a half-hearted job.