Becoming an executive chef can be a very rewarding and challenging career opportunity. Working in the back of the house as the head chef, you will have many responsibilities and creative talents. Working with a diverse and dynamic staff will be very exciting. In addition to training them on the many different culinary skills that it takes to work in a kitchen, as the working chef, you will be training kitchen staff on the menu that has been designed and approved for the property that you are managing. An executive chef job description is very diverse. You may be considered the commander in chief, kitchen manager and various other types of authoritative titles.
When taking on the role of the commander of the kitchen at a new property or an existing property, one of the first items on your agenda should be to ascertain your complete inventory. This inventory will include, but not be limited to, food items including staple items, all serving plates and utensils, all cooking utensils and equipment in the kitchen. You will also want to take a full inventory of the staff’s abilities and where they are presently assigned. It is important that, as the chef, you can recognize strengths and weaknesses in all of your staff and set them up to succeed in whatever area is not only needed but where that particular staff member enjoys working.
When considering all of your utensils, whether it be for the front or back of the house, you will want to determine how many seats or covers a particular property does during a given meal period. For example, do you have enough forks, spoons and knives? Is there enough plates, coffee cups and glasses?
It is also important to remember staffing requirements for each meal period. Normal kitchen operations will require you to have staffing in your main cooking line, pantry/cold line, prep and your dish area. When considering staffing and inventory of equipment and other items needed to operate any food and beverage property, you must consider the amount of business that you are expected to have throughout each day.
Food Cost and Menu Design
When considering engineering a menu for any property, it is important to consider the clientele and possibly the demographics and location. Considering these things will be vital to the type of menu that you will want to design on availability of products and how well they may be perceived by your customers.
Designing a menu has many considerations. It must be able to be executed and it should be products that are going to make the property a profit. Execution means the ability to deliver a finished plate to your servers in a timely manner to be presented to your customers.
When considering menu items, as the chef or kitchen manager, it is very important to consider availability and cost of every item on a plate. A simple statement, but very important is by putting seasonal berries on a menu, it gives the chef the flexibility to provide fresh seasonal fruit whereas if the menu stated strawberries and strawberries or unavailable or the cost has risen above the normal cost, this could result in an unhappy customer or you may be exceeding your food cost on a single item.