Every time a chef attends a shift they are representing you as a consultant and a business as a whole. Your reputation is fully in the hands of someone else. And it is someone who has not gone through an arduous process of interviews and trials. Rather it is someone who has to go into a kitchen they have never been to before and work with a brigade they have no relationship with. Deal with an unknown head chef and PERFORM!! So how do you ensure the chef you are sending in will fit the bill? How can you even ensure they will show up to the job? The temporary consultant has an incredibly short amount of time in which to get to know their candidates and create a loyalty which is inherently not present in the temporary worker.
In order to be successful you need to have a constant supply of chefs ... But not just any chefs. People who you know will arrive on time each and every day. A temp. Chef is only as good as his last assignment and even one who has been perfect for months can disappear off the face of the planet from Sunday to Monday. And the process of finding these chefs is constant.
For every one hundred cvs we get in response to job ads ... You can be sure at least half will have no interest in temping through an agency. Having not read the advert properly they simply apply but in reality will not register with an agency and only want a full time permanent position. Of the 50 who want to sign up ... You can take away at least another ten who will tell you everything you want to hear over the phone and then will simply not show up. Maybe they got a better offer or they had done a trial which came to fruition ... We will never know as they won’t let us know ... Just not turn up!
So now from 100 seemingly suitable cvs we are down to 40 before one single interview has taken place. This will drop by at least a further 10 who will show up to the office, late or missing some of the equipment and documents we have requested them to bring. One of the most important things in recruiting temporary chefs is that you can be as sure as possible that they will show up to the jobs you have placed them in. Any sign of disorganisation or unreliability and we simply cannot take the risk! This is after all our own reputation that we are placing in their hands.
Then the real business of weeding out the suitable chefs begins and this is where the skilled temporary consultant gets to prove their worth. Spotting the smallest signs of attitude problems or inefficiency through interview and conversation and attempting to create a bond and a loyalty over a very short period of time. Seeking out a common interest, having a laugh and a joke, bonding over their kids, football clubs etc... Each has their own technique as each has to be 100 % confident in the staff they are sending out ... And even then there is no guarantee!
After the interview process I can honestly say you will have a maximum of 10 chefs left that you want to confidently put on your books and send out to the clients who will hold you personally responsible should anything go wrong! But that's not the end of it ... Dealing with a diverse client base means on top of this loyalty and relationship we are trying to establish with our chefs, we also have to ensure they possess the right skill set for a particular environment. The most reliable chef in the world with an exclusively gastro pub background cannot go to do a few shifts in a 2 Rosette standard kitchen ... No matter how much they have been liked elsewhere and never let you down.
So ... As with permanent placements skill set and background will inevitably come into play ... Even for a one week cover the chef in question must be up to the standard of the kitchen they are sent to.
We as individual consultants, and as a business as a whole, will only be considered the best option for temp chefs if we make the correct call of these positions day after day and week after week. The elation of filling a difficult booking with the perfect candidate and receiving good feedback from a notoriously picky head chef can only be very short lived. There will be another ten jobs still to fill and another ten after that and one well placed chef will be easily forgotten if there is a complete disaster elsewhere. So as a temp consultant seeking out the right calibre of people to represent them on a daily basis the process is constant. We can never become complacent, take our eye off the ball or let our standards drop even for a second. Our reputation is firmly in the hands of other people and it remains our job to do everything possible to keep that reputation as high as possible.
Having done all the above for the past five years and more, I can say it has been a roller coaster. When I think of all involved I sometimes ask “why”? But then this is one of the most amazing jobs when you get it right! The satisfaction you get when a client is happy and the fact that you have helped a candidate find their dream job is second to none. The stress involved drives me to succeed – working under the pressure of a very picky environment can be overwhelming for some – but I love it! It’s why I wake up in the morning and why I continue to love this crazy demanding business!
Now back to recruiting the next 100 candidates…
Enrico Sorbello - Recruitment Manager, Chef Division
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