The single most important tip when hiring a chef or caterer

How to find out how your hired chef might act in good times and bad

You want a party where you can relax and enjoy your mom’s 90th birthday.  You make sure every detail of that night is memorable and intentional.  You hire a chef for the meal.  But there’s a big storm outside and traffic is overwhelming.  You tell the chef that your guests are going to be an hour late.  Your chef, huffing and puffing is inflexible.  “We must eat now or my food will be ruined!”

Your guests arrive and your ego chef wants it to be all about him.  You spend more time avoiding him or arguing.  You definitely don’t make sudden requests.  Ultimately, it ruins the energy of the evening.

The next day (or even year), when you look back on that moment, you remember equally your mom’s milestone birthday smile and the anger you had.  You insist you’ll never hire anyone again!

You thought this would be smooth.  But in the end it wasn’t.  I’ve been at those types of events or hired those types of people to do work in my house.  The contractor that complained more than worked.  The garden designer who argued with my landscapers and didn’t listen to my wants and needs.

I understand – so here’s the plan

I recommend at the very least, get to know your chef.  Do you click with them?  Would you want this person as a guest at your event?  Will they represent you well?  Are they passionate about their profession?  How do they react when things don’t go as planned?

You want this to reflect on this memory positively – it’s a milestone event

Imagine if it’s like a wedding or if it’s your best friend’s birthday, or an anniversary, whatever the reason for having the event, its important moments, marks in your life that you want to celebrate… to remember.

And it’s even more important if that person is going to be, not just doing some work in your house but now interfacing with your family and your guest, it’s even more important that you click.

You need someone to be adaptable and flexible when plans change

When people show up late, when plans change, you want a chef that has the mindset of, “I can deal with this.  I can go with the flow.

You want a chef that has empathy from your perspective.  You’re upset the plans changed.  So you need someone who can work with.

The last thing you want is a chef that gives you more stress when you already feel stressed from your party.  You need a chef that’s going to stay calm, have a glass of wine with you, and say, “It’s okay.  Just don’t stress, we are here for you when you are ready.”

A good chef will help the client relax and make it feel like you had an angel for the night.

You want a relationship – not a one-time transactional event

It’s all about relationships.  A chef makes a difference with somebody else lives and cares about the relationship.  You don’t want somebody waiting for the end of the night to get your money.

Here’s how to apply this

To be able to get to know your chef, use some of these questions.

  1. What was your favorite event and why? Listen for what the chef likes about his profession.  Listen for passion and examples.  You may also ask about least favorite.
  2. What kind of people bug you? Or What stresses you out?
  3. How would your friends describe you?
  4. Have you ever had a time when you had to deal with personalities that didn’t click with your own? How did you handle it?
  5. Do you have a reference I can call? You may not call those references.  But see if they can give you a name in 48 hours.  That means it was easy to find a client that the chef has built a relationship with.

In the end, it’s a gut feeling.  You either click or you don’t.  You either connect or you don’t.  And to me knowing the person in your kitchen serving your food is someone that can make you smile (especially if you need it) is all worth it.

Question: How important is it to you to like who’s working for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.