Establishments and operators are frequently asking chef candidates to perform practical applications which are known as chef tastings. These are an important part of the interview process. Tastings typically carry a lot of weight because no one wants a highly qualified chef who cannot cook or handle pressure in the kitchen. These tastings are used to assess your skills, how well you work under pressure, how well you fit in the establishment’s culture, and your decision-making. If you are preparing for such an interview, here are some tips to help you out.
Research the Establishment and Your Interviewers
This is a critical first step because you need to know what will be expected of you if you land the job. You also need to know what the interviewers typically look for in their chefs. Researching the establishment typically takes the shape of researching their culture and cuisines.
You will be required to prepare at least one dish during the tasting, and you need to prepare one that the establishment can add to its menu. For example, you might have a great seared beef recipe, but that will not help if you will be working in an establishment that serves Asian cuisine.
If you know who the interviewers will be, you can look up your interviewers online to see if there is any information about their preferences, cooking styles, and cuisines that will help.
Since you have an idea of what is expected of you, you can start practicing making various dishes within the parameters of what you think will be asked of you on the big day. This will help you stick with what you know during the tasting because veering off might lead to disastrous results. Also, have a backup recipe in case they ask you to prepare something else.
You also need to prepare everything you need for the interview. Many establishments will have all the wares you need to complete various dishes. However, you will be expected to bring your knives, which you have to sharpen and prepare ahead of time.
Additionally, buy a chef coat and iron it before the tasting. This will help you present yourself professionally as first impressions matter.
During the Interview
It is crucial that you work cleanly and professionally. This is something you should already be able to do. You can check out the kitchen beforehand to plan how you will keep things clean and tidy during the interview.
You also need to learn how to stay calm. Kitchens are high-stress work environments especially when there is a rush. You will be expected to stay calm even when an interviewer is talking to you or trying to interrupt you.
Lean towards familiarity instead of novelty. While you might want to wow the judge with something amazing, it is always better to stick to something simple you are comfortable with. Just make it as perfect as you can.
After the Interview
It is crucial that you clean up after yourself. If the opportunity presents itself, you can interact with everyone else politely and even ask how you can improve the dish you prepared. Be prepared for some positive criticism, too.
A tasting gives you the opportunity to showcase the type of chef you are and what you are capable of. This is a time to lean on your training and what’s familiar to wow the interviewers or judges.