The chef manager position is a tough one. Not only is it physically demanding, usually involving long hours and lots of standing, it also calls for strong leadership and creativity. And, you cannot buckle under pressure. However, a successful chef manager is rewarded by having a profitable kitchen that puts out good food.
The chef manager is the leader of his kitchen. To earn his staff’s respect, she must lead by example and meet with staff regularly. Managing kitchen staff includes teaching the importance of punctuality, how to work on a line, teamwork, cooking skills and proper safety and sanitation. The chef manager often trains her staff and must be on the same page as front-of-house management so the kitchen and wait staffs work efficiently together. She often works with servers on placing tickets and timing so the operation will run smoothly.
Working Well under Pressure
During the busiest times, a kitchen may have many orders to complete at once. The fine balance required to time dishes is handled by the chef manager. She often is the expediter, calling out orders and making sure each station on the line is moving smoothly in order to get the food delivered on time and cooked properly. The chef manager must diffuse the pressure on the line cooks during peak times by maintaining a cool disposition. And, she must be ready to step in and help on the line as necessary.
A key quality in a chef manager is the ability to budget. Most restaurants maintain a tight budget regarding food and administrative costs. Managing inventory by ordering the proper amounts of food and minimizing food waste is challenging. Chefs must balance the efficiency of the operation while producing quality products. Chef managers must consider staffing costs alongside equipment and food costs. A chef must recognize the number of staff needed without exceeding a staffing budget.
The chef manager may also be responsible for menu creation and specials. Chefs want to keep customer engaged by offering new dishes and specials. The chef must have a sense of what his customers want and be flexible to cater to the customers’ special needs including allergies, vegetarian or gluten-free preferences. Chefs also take pride in plate presentation, which includes anything from the main dish appearance to creative sides and dishware that enhances the presentation.
Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.