As a Consultant and Chef my biggest joy is assisting business owners with their chefs.
I come across a large variety of different personalities and backgrounds and I am never surprised when I see some of the things that go on in other commercial kitchens.
Biggest Mistakes Chefs Make in the Industry:
- Telling their employer they know more than they actually do about being a head chef.
- Believing they know more about being a head chef than actual experience.
- Ordering too much or too little food. Especially in an area with limited delivery. This can send a business broke.
- As a head chef you need to guide and unite your kitchen brigade, your personal feelings on people should not be brought into the kitchen. You are there to get the best out of your team...encouragement and positive attitude will always work better than yelling and stressing out in front of your staff.
- Your upper management are your superiors, you do need to listen to them, getting egotistical about your way of doing things will not help you stay employed.
- Thinking a head chef doesn't need to cook and is only there to supervise the kitchen. As a head chef you should always be hands on and lead your team by working by example.
- Abiding by Health Regulations in your state is a must. Your shortcuts will get you sacked, fined or can kill someone in your Restaurant. You do not know better than the Health Department. Abide by the Danger-zone Temperatures and follow the rules... you won't go wrong if you follow the rules.
- Know your food costing vs labour cost. Sometimes homemade can be better but not at the expense of wages if a bought in product is just as good.
- Keeping food for too long... not utilising food into specials before it spoils there for driving up your food wastage.
- Don't belittle another chef if they don't know how to make a certain dish... not everyone has the same background and there will be things that chef knows that you don't.
- Use the skillsets in your kitchen. If another chef is faster at a certain task, than you, encourage them to take on that task regularly or ask them to show you how they are able to achieve this faster. Learn from your team.
- Don't fake your stock take..... you will be found out and if your figures don't add up you could find yourself sacked. Better to admit your over ordering or mistakes so that you can work on them and move forward. Learn and Grow!!!
- Don't go overboard on the Specials Board.... Keep it Simple and Tasty.
- When setting up function menus - Take into consideration the season, client, keeping choices limited so as not to overwhelm, colour, kitchen and equipment, team skillset, garnish and presentation, availability, texture and no repetition in the menu.
- Not knowing your customer, food costing, food wastage, labour cost, ordering system, HACCP and local food laws, staff skillset, rostering, function/banquet menu, management expectations, stock par levels. If any of these words are foreign to you and you are a head chef - it is time to upskill or leave.
I have many more but at the moment these are the main ones that come to mind. The chefs that can look for assistance with gaps in their training are the best eventual heads chefs. Learn as much as you can on your way up the ladder, ask many questions and invest in your own education. Take business courses and understand your industry.
Many head chefs fail their employer or themselves by making silly mistakes. Most chefs can cook but lack the leadership and business skills to run a kitchen. Which chef are you? Chef - can cook Chef/Manager - can cook and run a successful business or Head Chef - can cook, works well with other and great at organising and keeping on top of daily tasks, management skills and cooking.