Being a head chef means you have lots of responsibility in the kitchen. You're responsible for getting food orders out on time, ensuring each dish is made to a high standard and the other chefs are working well together. While you might not be cooking, you are in charge of the kitchen and if you fail in your responsibilities, food standards will decline and you will get less customers (and more complaints!). There are certain qualities you need to be an excellent leader, here's how to be a good head chef.
- Be an inspiring leader
- Encourage teamwork
- Don't shout!
- Delegate tasks
- Take time to get to know your staff
- Listen to ideas
- Look after your staff's safety
Be an inspiring leader
The most important quality of a head chef is leadership. Head chefs need to be able to lead and direct their team successfully. Have a plan in place so all your chefs know what they are doing when it's time to work.
Some of those chefs will want to be a head chef too one day, they will be watching and learning from you. In the future, you want them to look back and think you were an exceptional teacher and leader.
Get your chefs to talk to each other. Working 40 hours a week means chefs will get to know each other very well but they need to work together as a team. During your rounds, you should see which chefs work best together. Perhaps there is one chef who struggles to get their voice heard.
Work with every team and encourage everyone to get involved and work together effectively.
While it's common for Gordon Ramsay to shout and curse at his chefs, you shouldn't. You will lose respect very quickly if you swear and yell at your team.
Even when the kitchen is busy with orders and there are problems to fix, it's important to keep calm. Getting stressed and shouting at your colleagues will only cause more problems and radically decrease morale.
Some head chefs fail because they put all their responsibilities on their own shoulders. The weight stresses them out and they do a bad job. Having meetings with your sous chefs can help you delegate important tasks so you can focus on other things. That's why there are sous chefs, they are there to help you.
Take time to get to know your staff
It's understandable you have a lot on your plate. But taking the chance to know your staff will help you become an effective head chef.
Getting to know them as people will help you become a better leader because you will know what their strengths and weaknesses are. You will know what stations they enjoy working at and what they want to improve at. When you know your staff better, it's easier to talk to them and they will find it easier to talk to you.
Listen to ideas
While most of the time, all the chefs will have to follow recipes in the kitchen, there are opportunities to change the menu up a bit. While it's the responsibility of the head chef and sous chefs to plan the menu, a good head chef listens to suggestions from the entire team. They may be aware of new food trends people like to order.
Asking for other chef's opinions increases morale because they will feel like they have the opportunity to get involved in big decisions.
Look after your staff's safety
Creating a safe work environment is a key priority for head chefs. You're responsible for keeping your staff safe when they work. If you ever see any hazards in the kitchen, they should be cleared up immediately. As your colleagues will be busy working on their tasks, they may not see a puddle of water or broken glass on the floor.
Your chefs should be dressed correctly for work. Remember, when your boss or critic comes into the kitchen, they will be looking at your chefs and if they're inappropriately dressed or not wearing the correct uniform, it will cast a negative impression on you.
That's why you should set an example. On every shift you should wear the correct chef uniform and work shoes.
Set An Example... Wear Shoes For Chefs
As chefs are on their feet for long hours, they need work shoes that are comfortable and supportive. Along with support, they need safety features that will help reduce the chance of them slipping or falling at work. Kitchens have plenty of slip hazards thanks to water, sauces and grease.
Our chef shoes are specially designed for chefs. They're comfortable, supportive and the incredible slip-resistant grip helps keep you on your feet.
Visit our shop to see our styles for chefs
Here is the COMPLETE Guide to Chef Jobs
As there are so many chef jobs out there, it can get complicated. That's why we've put all the jobs into one book. It's free to download: