The Need to Prove Your Cooking Prowess

Posted By Steve Winfield

27 July 2015 - 8:31am

I find it interesting how after 13 years recruiting in the culinary arts, clients now see a cookery test as a standard part of the senior level recruitment processes. Until a few years ago, clients would accept at face value the candidate’s career history as being enough for them to commit to an offer……of late though, things have changed. This I feel is down to the current day diversity in our hospitality market which although fantastic to see has no doubt played a part in diluting some traditional cooking techniques.

So with a cookery test now obligatory for culinary recruitment, I thought it would be useful to put some key points down that need to be considered. All too often candidates feel it is only a case of turning up, but if you consider the below points they can make all the difference to success or failure.

  1. Preparation: Research in detail and know what you are being asked to achieve. What is the end result, what is expected and required?
  2. Planning: Make notes beforehand to take with you. Do a dummy run to work out your methods and timings. If a specified presentation time is stated then this needs to be adhered to.
  3. Organisation: You will be in a strange kitchen with unfamiliar equipment. Allow time to get set up and work out where things are. Getting there earlier helps to settle nerves and feel comfortable in the environment. If possible, take the time to visit the client beforehand
  4. Approach: Over confidence can lead to disaster. It is important that you show an air of competence but keep a level head - A few nerves are good.
  5. Listen: Pay attention to the clients and consultants brief. Often simple facts are overlooked that are considered unacceptable. “Have you taken the wishbone out of that chicken?”
  6. Honesty: The client is looking for a great end result but in every cook off simple mistakes can happen. Be honest about these in your debrief as clients will respect this and often overlook them. An honest explanation rather than trying to cover them up with waffle usually goes a long way.
  7. Underselling: Don’t under estimate what the client is looking for. More often than not the client is looking for that “WOW” factor, innovation and creativity. Yes make sure you meet the brief but don’t play it safe, just show them what you are capable of. In a nut shell you only have one chance to show them how good you are.
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