5 Reasons Why You Should Train Cooks from Within

Staffing a competent BOH team is a constant uphill climb, and just when you think your core crew is established - one of your best cooks gets a “better job” somewhere else or your AM prep guy gets drunk on cooking wine and found sleeping in the kitchen bathroom (true story).  Every restaurant is different, whether it’s full service or fast casual it’s a guarantee that all of them need cooks. The perfect line or prep cook is the unique mix of a work-horse, with killer execution experience, can work 50+ HRs and all for low pay.  Cooks are either amazing and passionate about the job or they’re forced into the profession by life circumstances. Then once you get a good one you do your best to retain them or you’re back in the weeds again.  Which is why training from within is the best way to maintain your BOH Team.

1) They Already Know the Restaurant

    Your dishwashers, runners, bussers and porters are untapped talent, they already know their way around the kitchen. No time wasted with “Where is _____?” and “Where do we put _________ during/ after/ before service?”.  If you need them to put some mise en place in the walkin, they already know where to find the quart containers, tape and markers.  This could take some time for a newer employee to adapt, whereas a current employee already knows this information.

2)  High Accountability

There’s a certain sense of accountability instilled in an employee being promoted from within, and the pressure to not mess up the opportunity is much higher.  Nothing grows the perception of ownership than cross training.  If anyone calls out then everyone can work the same stations because they have done it before, and loyalty grows from there. Training your dishwashers and porters seem tedious, but if you want to build a team who started from the bottom and worked their way up together - it’s the way to go!

3) Creates a Stronger Team

In food pairings there’s a saying, “if grows together goes together”, the saying is the same for strong BOH teams.  Cooks grown from mastering stations from the bottom, build solid teams who have seen it all before, this only occurs with longevity.  It also lights a fire under your current dishwashers’ and porters’ butts to get their careers to the next level.  Also nothing talks like taking off the rubber gloves, putting a knife in someone’s hand and increasing his or her pay rate.  If they really want to learn and your current cooks are about to burnout at 60+ hrs a week, then it’s well worth the extra time for your team’s sake.  

4) Shows off Your Leadership Skills

Taking the time to cultivate in house talent, shows you genuinely care about your people beyond your labor costs and just barely pushing through service. If you’re still worried about wasting your time, then this is a serious test of your leadership skills as well. Chefs and kitchen managers, before believing you’re “too busy” to train a dishwasher or  remember that many of really great chefs began as dishwashers, John Besh, Thomas Keller, Gabrielle Hamilton and Anthony Bourdain to name a few.  You think you’re a strong leader? Turn your most tenured dishwashers into your top line and prep crew.  Chef Daniel Angerer of By Chloe says a good Chef “needs to be an authority, leader, motivator, spokesman, a person to look up to”.

True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders or in this case great cooks.  

5)  Cultivates a Better Work Culture

As entrepreneur and blonde golden raisin, Richard Branson, once said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to”.  The key to retention is solid training and acting in the best interest of your entire team.  A major plus is you never have to worry about fixing flawed training because you trained them all YOUR way. So, there’s no team dividing arguments on how much acid goes on the ceviche or how soft a scramble should be a brunch. The potential of growth is also the easiest way to recruit more dishwashers and runners, then the of challenge of hiring the most eager dishwashers and porters is 86’ed.      




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The 3 Best Ways to Find Cooks

      Finding excellent cooks is one of the most challenging of the restaurant industry.  Cooks are the backbone of every restaurant, they are usually the ones executing the food that brings in revenue. Good cooks are essential to any thriving restaurant.  The best cooks are able to follow instructions accordingly to their respective chefs’ recipes, have some experience (but no ego), know that creativity is reserved for after they prove themselves in the kitchen - all for hourly wages and low pay.  Some of the usual obstacles of recruiting for these difficult positions include: no shows for interviews and training, candidates not looking to stay for a long period of time.  With all of these challenges turnover is high and all chefs need competent cooks - fast! There are better ways than posting on every individual job board and waiting for candidates to come to you.

1. Referrals

    When a position is open, referrals are usually the first route chefs and managers take to get someone through the door, especially for finding skilled cooks.  If your guy on grill is killing it every night and has never called out once, chances are he might know other hard working people like him.  You get his friend through the door from his old job, and she happens to be a beast in prep - problem solved!  However, referrals can be risky just as they are successful.  Be wary of hiring just anyone your employees ask to hire.  Set some parameters and restrictions on who can be referred.  The last thing you want is a husband and wife working in the same space arguing about the kids, while you’re waiting at expo for a steak on the fly because table 12 ordered steak tartare and didn’t know it was supposed to be “raw”.  Referrals are a pretty safe bet for filling a few positions, but if you hire referrals only because you need a “body on the floor” it could be a disaster.   

2. Proper Job Promotion

    Posting on job boards is very effective but posting to multiple job boards is a painstaking process.  If your job happens to be posted on the wrong board then great candidates can miss an opportunity to work for you.  Cooks have hectic schedules and a limited amount of time to apply for new jobs, so more exposure is always better. Harri’s Job Distributor takes all of the strengths of Craigslist, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, CareerJet, Jooble and more, then posts them all at once. You will be able to see your jobs (host, waiter, and chef jobs) right away. You receive the volume and quality of all of the job boards in one place, and it saves you time from posting on each one.  As an extra plus, candidates can use their smartphones to apply through the application, so they can come through your restaurant doors quickly!



Courtesy of @lupulonyc Instagram 

Courtesy of @lupulonyc Instagram 

3. Social Media

    Much like referrals this could be a hit or miss.  Being aware of peak times to post is key for having job ads on social media.  This takes a little more preparation than posting an ad on a job board or asking a cook if he has any friend or past co-workers for referrals.  A good job post on social media must be very image driven.  Usually restaurants collaborate with their marketing or PR Teams to get this completed, then they can use the same ads whenever there are positions to be filled.  For example Chipotle went all out by dedicating an entire Facebook page to gain more candidates, while Lupulo kept it simple with an Instagram post with the positions available.  When posting on Facebook remember to do so with with images and video.  Studies have shown that have 39% more post engagement, than just posting text alone.  If you go the Instagram route then note the most successful times to post are Mon-Thurs from 6AM -12PM. One of the largest drawbacks can be that expense if you don’t have internal resources to create these posts.  Overall, posting positions on social media is effective because almost everyone has a cell phone and the reach is not only instantaneous but shareable.   





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5 Must-Haves for a High-Impact Harri Profile


  As a professional in the competitive industry of hospitality, it's important to understand the influence your personal brand will have in helping you stand out to employers. The truth is the resume is dead, and as a hospitality professional you need to discover unique ways to showcase your skills and personality. That's where Harri comes in. Designed by HR Managers from the country's top restaurant establishments, your Harri profile allows you to seamlessly present information such as your skills, personality, strengths, and work experience.

To make the most of your Harri profile, here are five tips to help you put your best foot forward:

1. Take a dynamic photo.

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A picture is worth 1,000 words, so make sure yours tells the right story.  While professional head shots aren't a requirement, keep this in mind that selfies, group photos, unclear or inappropriate pictures will not portray you the right way and come off as unprofessional.

2. Create a strong headline.



The first thing about you employers will see on your Harri profile is 'Three Words About Me'. Make sure you select three strong, dynamic words that compliment your personality. Remember, you can only make one first impression.

3. Compose a passionate (yet short!) description of yourself.

This is your chance to truly shine! Why did you choose to work in the hospitality industry? What are your career goals? What are your biggest accomplishments? These are great examples of how you can create a unique story behind who you are and why you would make a great addition to someone's team.

4. Develop a list of your professional skills.

specialty skills

Harri gives you the ability to tag skills on your profile. Not only does this allow you to display your talents in an organized fashion, but also employers are able to search, filter, and connect with members based on the skills tagged on your profile.

5. Optimize your job descriptions.


Expand on your work experience through strong, concise descriptions of your role at each company. Keep in mind there should be a connection between your job descriptions and top strengths that you want employers to remember you for.

Want to know the best part? Once you create your Harri profile, you will have your very own personalized URL. You can share this URL whenever and wherever, whether it's with employers outside the Harri environment or across your own social media pages. It makes showing off that much easier.


And there you have it. Using Harri's unique platform to create your personal brand as a hospitality professional will allow you to showcase your skills and personality to employers like never before. Following these simple steps will help you creating lasting impressions and genuine connections with both employers and your fellow peers.

Update your Harri profile now to become a hospitality superstar.


Hot Right Now: Chef Jobs


Chef Jobs on Harri If you're thinking about becoming a chef, restaurant industry experts say New York City is the land of opportunity for you.

There is a shortage of back of house staff, such as chefs and line cooks, as well as front of house managers and other restaurant jobs in the city right now. According to Stephen Zagor, director of culinary business and industry studies at the Institute of Culinary Education, this shortage is leading to high job placement rates:

"We talk to restaurants all the time, and they're constantly calling us because they know we're a reservoir of talent," he said. "They keep saying, 'We need, we need, we need.'"

The reason for this is partially due to the high turnover rate in the industry as well as the food scene explosion that has taken place over the past few years. "The restaurant industry often offers day jobs for performers and artists, which also attributes to the high turnover rates" Zagor said.

The rise of niche dinning combined with more openings have made it harder for restaurants to adequately staff their concepts, however, those who want to work in restaurants and kitchens can catch a lucky break with more opportunities available. Maureen Drum, director of career services at the Institute of Culinary Education, had this to say about the current state of the New York restaurant business:

"There's so many different types of venues, everything from pop-up food tables to food trucks to more casual-style service restaurants, because of that trend there are so many more avenues for a cook to head into."

Not only is there competition for work, wages are competitive as well. The average annual wage for all restaurant professionals in New York state was $50,430 in 2014, compared to $42,570 nationwide, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Chef Jesse Schenker, owner of Recette on West 12th Street and The Gander on West 18th Street, started his culinary career in Florida. He's seen first hand, the opportunities available in New York City. Despite the number of opportunities available, working in the restaurant industry still requires drive and commitment.

"It's really a question about one's commitment because this industry is truly a lifestyle," said Chef Schenker. "There's so much sacrifice but there's much to be gained."

 If you're someone who's looking for a fresh start or someone looking to break into the industry, Harri is the best place to discover which opportunities are available hospitality professionals.

[Via Am new York]

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