How Hard Is It to Hire and Keep Good Cooks?
Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the most common titles -- and most crucial positions -- in a restaurant is that of a line cook, someone who is in charge of a particular station in the kitchen.
How hard is it to hire and retain good cooks in today's Phoenix food scene? Here's what a few Valley chefs had to say:
These days, it's rare to run across an individual who has the chops to withstand the daily grind of working in a kitchen. The other day, I was with two other chefs, and one of them received a text from an employee giving notice -- or should I say giving notice that no notice is being given. Two days later, the other guy had two people cancel their stage 12 hours before for personal reasons. It's a tough industry and not for everyone.
It's extremely hard. Labor being what it is, you only have a certain amount of dollars for your top slots -- and often someone else is looking for top-tier guys and is going to pay to take them away. Other times, you find individuals who are worthy of your dime, but you've got no room on the payroll.
My cooks have been with me for three to eight years. I have staff that dates back to the mid-1990s, from my ASU days. Treat people as family. Family stays together.
Retaining them is much easier than finding them. Too many cooks have a sense of entitlement today and finding hardworking cooks who want to be in this industry just isn't as easy as it was five years ago.