Qualities the Top Restaurants Look for in Head Chefs

Planning a career as a head chef? Before you begin culinary training, consider the qualities the top restaurants look for when hiring head chef positions. You'll learn the qualities you'll need to drive your career forward and how to hone these sought-after qualities in your training.

A kitchen’s head chef is a culinary leader. They're the person responsible for the kitchen team meeting their goals and creating inspiring dishes to enhance the restaurant's reputation. The top restaurants across the globe require a specific type of culinary specialist for this pivotal role.

This post explores the qualities restaurants look for in a head chef and explains how culinary students can master these qualities and reach their highest career goals.

Endless Creativity

Head chefs are the creative force behind the world’s best restaurants. They not only bring in patrons with their ability to combine flavours and culinary styles but also inspire their team through their creative work. Attaining the position of head chef within a leading restaurant requires you to create standout meals and to utilize your creative skills to build menus that drive profits by capturing the hearts and minds of patrons.

Training Tip: Use your time as a culinary student to experiment with your craft. Learn how ingredients complement one another and work on developing new culinary concepts from classical dishes. You’ll soon begin to realize the unbound potential of your creative vision.

Poise Under Pressure

The restaurant kitchen is an environment where pressure is constant, and management and patron expectations are consistently high. Head chefs should thrive under pressure and be able to make effective decisions when working against the clock. As a head chef, you’ll carefully communicate expectations for each kitchen staff member and organize teams to meet strict deadlines.

Training Tip: By practicing your work under pressure within the training kitchen, you’ll learn to recognize how your body reacts in the moment. During your culinary training, you’ll also increase your awareness of your kitchen surroundings, allowing you to retain control and order when time is against you.

Precise Communication

Your level of precision when communicating as a head chef can make all the difference in your team's results. Can you articulate how to improve on a dish for your kitchen team? Do you have the expertise to speak with an employee who is often late regarding how their lateness impacts the team? Communicating carefully with each team member, from your dishwashers to the restaurant owner, will help streamline kitchen operations and ensure you're all moving toward the same goals.

Training Tip: When training, watch how your Chef Instructor explains their steps and brings their ideas to life. Learn how they set expectations and standards with their words and develop your capacity to connect through clear messaging.

Willingness to Learn

Your willingness to learn will be crucial in your growth arc as a head chef. While you might begin the role new to restaurant leadership, restaurant owners expect you to develop your skills as you improve the restaurant’s processes. Ensure you take all feedback from the restaurant owner, patrons, and employees with due consideration. Taking the initiative and learning from your fellow kitchen staff can help you acquire new skills and show your team you value their abilities and opinions.

Training Tip: Pay close attention to the weaker areas of your culinary repertoire during training and continue to build on these weak points even as you take on leadership roles. You’ll make swift improvements by taking onboard fresh ideas.

Attention to Detail

The fine details matter when you’re the head chef and running the kitchen for the restaurant owner. Measuring ingredients to the milliliter and timing preparation to the second can help the restaurant achieve their highest of goals. As a head chef, you are the timekeeper and the controller of kitchen operations, and you will need to know immediately when your team overlooks a detail so that you can correct the issue and ensure success.

Training Tip: Practice each step in your kitchen prep and cooking process carefully and speed up your approach as you become more comfortable during your culinary training. You’ll hone your rhythm and enhance your attention to detail naturally.

Start Your Head Chef Career with a PICAchef Diploma

PICAchef is Canada’s culinary training leader, helping culinary students master challenging techniques and build their in-kitchen experience through comprehensive culinary training programs. Our course selection combines the latest research from within the culinary industry to help students hone the art of culinary and carefully develop their leadership abilities.

Start your career with the ideal springboard for success and call our Admissions team today at 604-734-4488 or contact us online to discover our latest course intake options.