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Chef Interview Questions

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  1. Given that we have a steady stream of customers, are you able to work long hours and still deliver quality cuisine? See answer
  2. How knowledgeable are you regarding food safety standards and best practices? See answer
  3. What kind of cuisine do you excel at and why? See answer
  4. Chefs are responsible for making sure that they prepare food for customers quickly and at the appropriate temperature without sacrificing quality. Chefs can easily neglect quality control when they are in the midst of producing several meals at once, so this question can help the interviewer determine who is truly dedicated to cooking a quality product. Asking candidates about their quality control methods gives them an opportunity to demonstrate how they maintain efficiency in the workplace and prevent low-quality meals from being delivered to customers. See answer
  5. Do you think your love for cooking can still be intact after cooking eight to 10 hours a day?
  6. Did you go to culinary school? If you apprenticed under a chef, where and how were you trained?
  7. What is the proper procedure when preparing food for someone who is allergic to one of our common ingredients?
  8. Are you familiar with brigade-style kitchen management?
  9. How would you rate your knife skills?
  10. What would you do if you arrived to your shift and none of the mise en place or prep was completed?
  11. Are you able to work as part of a team and consistently communicate with others in the kitchen?
  12. How would you handle working with a server who incorrectly enters orders into the POS?
  13. What is your process for expediting at the pass?
  14. What strategies do you use to stay tidy and organized in the kitchen?
  15. Have you ever had your food sent back? How do you respond?
  16. Are you willing to come early or stay late to finish inventory or food prep?
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6 Chef Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

Do you think your love for cooking can still be intact after cooking 8-10 hours a day?

A:

It’s important to find qualified and motivated employees who love what they’re doing. This question will help to uncover candidates’ reasons for wanting to follow this career path, as well as any personal information or backstory that led them to where they are today. Candidates should be able to give you a concise reason as to why they want to practice the culinary arts.

What to look for in an answer:

  • A passion for food and cooking
  • A personal motivator to become a chef
  • Ability to work well with others

Example:

“I love being able to create new dishes and share my recipes with others, even when I’m cooking for many customers, all the time.”

Q:

Did you go to culinary school? Have you apprenticed under a chef, and where and how were you trained?

A:

Knowing your prospective candidates’ credentials can help you decide if they’re a good fit for your kitchen. They may have trained under a prominent chef or at a prestigious school, so it’s important to ask them and let them showcase their education. The applicant may also have traveled and gotten first-hand cooking experience from cuisines around the world. This knowledge could be a valuable asset in your kitchen.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Diverse culinary background
  • Appropriate culinary training
  • Credentials earned during culinary studies

Example:

“I trained at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and graduated top of my class as a Certified Sous Chef.”

Q:

Given that we have a steady stream of customers, are you able to work long hours and still deliver quality cuisine?

A:

Chefs are often required to work long hours, so you’ll want to make sure your applicant is okay with the schedule. Asking this question helps weed out applicants who may not be a good fit for your kitchen’s operating hours. You’ll also need to find out if they can handle working long hours without buckling under the stress or creatively burning out. Can the candidate still be innovative after a long day?

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to work a flexible schedule
  • Willingness to come in when needed
  • Able to handle stress without burning out

Example:

“I previously worked in a restaurant with extremely high turnover. I was able to work fast and efficiently, without a loss in quality.”

Q:

How knowledgeable are you regarding food safety standards and best practices?

A:

Food safety is very important for anyone working in a kitchen, and chefs have to be experienced at maintaining food safety standards for themselves and their team. A chef should be certified in food safety or, at the minimum, have extensive experience following food safety guidelines. The candidate should demonstrate knowledge and competency regarding food safety basics such as hand washing and safe meat handling and preparation.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Food safety certifications
  • Knowledge on good food handling practices
  • Experience in a kitchen environment

Example:

“I am food-safety certified and have three years of experience in a kitchen environment where I practiced and kept to all food handling safety standards.”

Q:

What kind of cuisine do you excel at and why?

A:

Good chefs needs to love cooking, and it’s important that the food they are passionate about cooking fits in with what your restaurant is offering. If you’re running a Thai restaurant and your applicant is very experienced with Italian cuisine, they may not be the best fit. This question can lead to a more detailed conversation about the specific cuisine of the restaurant in question.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Relevant experience with your restaurant’s cuisine
  • Experience making a variety of dishes
  • Training in specific cuisines

Example:

“Although I’m familiar with most Asian cuisines, my favorite has to be Szechuan because I love the combination of spicy tempered by sweet undertones.”

Q:

Chefs are responsible for making sure that they prepare food for customers quickly and at the appropriate temperature without sacrificing quality. Chefs can easily neglect quality control when they are in the midst of producing several meals at once, so this question can help the interviewer determine who is truly dedicated to cooking a quality product. Asking candidates about their quality control methods gives them an opportunity to demonstrate how they maintain efficiency in the workplace and prevent low-quality meals from being delivered to customers.

A:

A strong answer to this question should feature:

  • Attention to detail
  • Routine and organization
  • Accountability

Chefs may have different methods they use to uphold quality standards in their cooking, but here is one example of a successful response:

Example:

"I view quality control as an ongoing part of my cooking process, not a single step that happens when I finish the meal. Like any good chef, I constantly taste my food to make sure the flavors develop appropriately, allowing me to catch any mistakes early on. I communicate with other kitchen staff and servers to make sure that the timing works perfectly, preventing entrees from getting cold before they go out to tables. I also perform a visual inspection of every dish I send out, making sure the dishes look uniform, tidy and presentable."

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