We’ve all heard the phrase “too many cooks in the kitchen.” But for many kitchens, the opposite problem is taking hold. “I need a chef for my restaurant” is coming out of the mouths of many restaurateurs today. In fact, over a quarter of restaurants are having trouble finding cooks and kitchen staff.
This is a very common struggle during a labor shortage and can make running a restaurant seem nearly impossible. An understaffed kitchen leaves back of house staff spread thinner than filo dough, impacting food quality, employee retention, and overall guest satisfaction.
To improve the customer experience, staff morale, and food quality, you will need to hire more kitchen staff. Sharpen your restaurant’s performance by hiring skilled chefs and detail-oriented kitchen staff. Read on to learn how to find cooks for restaurants.
How to find cooks for a restaurant
So, how do you find cooks for a restaurant? You can find high-quality chefs that meet your restaurant’s standards with the hiring strategies below.
1. An on-demand staffing service
These days, you can get pretty much anything at the touch of a button. There’s on-demand streaming, rideshare services, and grocery delivery services, just to name a few. If only finding a chef and kitchen staff was that easy.
Enter Qwick—a modern solution to age-old restaurant staffing challenges. Qwick is a tech platform that connects experienced hospitality freelancers with businesses that need to fill shifts. Here’s an example of how it works:
Imagine a cook calls out sick before a busy night. Simply log on to the Qwick platform and post the shift. Then, the shift is carefully matched to qualified chefs in your area who can see all of the details and accept it. They show up, clock in and out on their app, and lend their talents to your team. You avoid the lengthy hiring process and don’t have to deal with an understaffed kitchen. Culinary crisis averted!
Much like a talented chef, Qwick offers professionalism and adaptability. You can use the platform to fill a last-minute call-out, when extra help is needed during busy seasons, or in seeking someone to fill a full-time role. The choice is yours.
Pros: Qwick offers flexibility in hiring, allowing you to scale up or down your crew based on needs. Plus, you get skilled staff without taking on the tax burden of a full-time employee.
Cons: Qwick offers temporary staffing services. If you’re on the hunt for a full-time chef, you might need an additional hiring strategy to fill the role. But, thanks to the lack of hiring fees with Qwick, you’re able to discover top talent through Qwick and experience working with them before making a full-time offer!
2. Restaurant job boards
The next restaurant hiring strategy we’re dishing up gives you access to loads of candidates. When wondering how to find cooks for your restaurant, job boards are key. Job boards help you get the word out about open positions via online postings.
We recommend posting on restaurant-specific job boards to find a chef actively seeking out roles in the food and beverage industry. Since there’s no guarantee that the right candidate is active on the job board you’re posting on, it’s best to utilize multiple job boards. Job boards like Culinary Agents that center on the hospitality industry offer a great place to start.
Circulate your job postings across multiple culinary-focused platforms to increase your chances of discovering seasoned kitchen staff to fill your restaurant.
After finding a reliable job board, create a detailed chef job description. This should include a summary of the role, the amount of experience required, and a description of daily responsibilities. Be sure to sprinkle in your establishment’s core values, along with a mention of employee benefits.
Once your job listing is posted, monitor respondents and sift through applications. From there, select the applicants that best meet your criteria and invite them to interview and perform a cooking test. Then, start hiring chefs that performed well.
Pros: Job boards enhance your visibility and get the message to more people than social media or website advertisements can.
Cons: Job boards cost money to utilize and it's not uncommon to pay around $50 per job post, and the cost of multiple jobs across different sites can add up quickly. Plus, you still have to spend time sorting through scores of candidates to find the right chef.
Every good chef knows how to work with the ingredients in front of them. Apply that same lesson by surveying your current kitchen staff for recommendations. Frankly, your back of house staff could provide the in-house recruiting aid you never expected. Use your current kitchen staff to hire more kitchen staff. There’s a chance they know some interested and qualified cooks to fill the roles.
Hiring a cook via a referral offers a hefty serving of advantages. The time-saving benefits of hiring referrals are reason enough to give this strategy a try. The typical recruiting process involves selecting channels to share the job post on, promoting the position, sorting through candidates... the list goes on. Referrals allow you to bypass the resource-intensive search.
Want another morsel of good news? Referrals are more likely to produce impressive candidates. Studies show that referred employees are less likely to quit and often outperform those hired via other methods. In short, employee referrals could connect you with quality candidates that you otherwise would have missed out on.
The next time you’re determining how to hire a chef or other kitchen staff member, don’t forget to ask around your restaurant.
Pros: You can find a chef in a timely manner. The cherry on top? There are no fees associated with this method of hiring chefs.
Cons: This hiring strategy is not one you can depend on. There’s no guarantee that employees will provide a steady stream of referrals.
4. Recruiting agency
For many looking to hire a chef for a restaurant, the time commitment is daunting. Outsourcing the candidate search is one way to relieve this burden. A recruiting agency works on your behalf, uncovering candidates that match your criteria.
There are certain instances in which hiring a recruiting agency may be a wise decision. For instance, restaurants that lack a dedicated HR manager can rely on recruiters’ services at an agency.
A restaurant that is experiencing growth and needs to fill multiple kitchen staff positions can also benefit from an agency’s help. With access to a vast network of candidates, an agency can deliver multiple candidates.
Enlisting the help of a recruiting agency allows you to focus on other restaurant areas that need attention. However, it is not a fully hands-off process. You will still conduct interviews, extend offers, and onboard new employees.
Pros: Recruiting agencies do the leg work to alleviate the stress and time commitment required to find cooks for your restaurant.
Cons: The process does not offer a quick turnaround time. After browsing agencies and settling on one, you’ll need to be onboarded as a client before the job search begins. After that, candidate searches can take weeks or longer.
Hiring kitchen staff can seem like a daunting task. Using these strategies can help you find cooks for your restaurant that will stick around. What about hiring these candidates? What skills should candidates have to be successful kitchen staff?
Hard + soft skills to look for when hiring kitchen staff
When thinking about how to find cooks for a restaurant, it’s important to note the skills needed. Keep reading to learn about several hard and soft skills that are trademarks of good kitchen staff.
Hard skills for kitchen staff
- Ability to multitask. Multitasking is an essential skill to search for when hiring kitchen staff. Is the candidate able to handle doing several tasks at the same time?
- Experience cooking. Kitchen staff should have at least a basic level of experience cooking. Depending on the meals your restaurant specializes in and their complexity, you may be able to teach someone who is somewhat new to cooking. As long as they have the other skills listed and there are resources to teach them, you may be able to give them a shot.
- Food and flavor knowledge. A good chef can mix a pinch of this with a dash of that to create something delicious. Kitchen staff should have some familiarity with flavors, spices, etc., even if they are self-taught.
Soft skills for kitchen staff
- Adaptability. A kitchen environment is fast-paced and ever changing. Kitchen staff should be able to adapt and solve problems as they arise.
- Reliability. A cook is one position in a restaurant that cannot be unreliable. There has to be a trustworthy person piloting the kitchen for your restaurant to succeed. Find reliable workers to fill your shifts on Qwick.
If you need a chef for your restaurant for an upcoming shift, try Qwick today! The Qwick network of hospitality freelancers have the hard and soft skills needed to succeed as kitchen staff.
Modernize your hiring process
Qwick is changing the way restaurants find top talent, providing experienced food and beverage freelancers in real-time from servers to cooks to dishwashers and more. With a thorough vetting process and in-depth orientation, you can be sure that every Qwick freelancer is qualified, certified, and ready to work.
Whisk away hiring troubles and find cooks for your restaurant with the help of Qwick. Create an account today!