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.      




Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news.


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.   





Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news.

Talented Chefs Leaving the Big Cities



A year ago, Gavin Kaysen left his executive chef position at Café Boulud in New York City. He packed up his bags, and headed back to his hometown of Minneapolis, where he set up his own restaurant, Spoon and Stable.

Kaysen says one of the advantages of opening a restaurant back home is being closer to his support system. He happily shares that he gets to spend more time with his family and children.

Another plus was the space. Kaysen found an office building that was originally an old horse stable, and thought it had lots of potential and charm. Construction started in early May and Kaysen was able to have a grand opening on November 16th. Putting together a restaurant in the short span of only six months was an amazing feat.

In addition, Kaysen notes that Minneapolis is an agricultural haven. He has been forming relationships with countless local farmers and producers.

Kaysen thinks the talent has been leaving big cities, like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, because chefs are embracing the old European restaurant concept again. He mentions how Michelin was initially created to expose the small, out-of-the-way shops to people and tourists.

He states that there no denying that metropolitan cities push out excellent food and chef talent. However, he points out how that it's not the locality that makes a great chef. Kaysen says, "I still believe if you cook really good food, and you create beautiful hospitality and great service, people will find you."

Kaysen finds it extremely humbling when patrons are lining out the door for a seat in his restaurant, especially since it is in Minneapolis. He is excited to see Minneapolis being a game changer to the culinary world.

(via Grub Street)

 Looking to work in Hospitality?

Discover who’s hiring on Harri

Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news.


Staffing Challenges in the Restaurant Industry


In addition to the challenge of hiring cooks and chefs to work the kitchen, waiters and waitresses are becoming harder to find. Based on a recent survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association, more than 50 percent of restaurant owners say that it is extremely difficult to find and keep good workers.

The reason, simply, because of supply and demand.

There is a huge need for restaurant workers, both front of house and back of house, since the U.S. Department of Agricultures reports that people are spending more time and money dining out. Americans are spending approximately 43 cents of every food dollar away from home. Michael Latour, a restaurant owner from New Jersey states, "The economy is good, and people are spending more money than ever in the hospitality industry. We're living in an area that's saturated with restaurants."


However, there just isn't enough workers to support all the restaurants. (Or at least, not enough workers willing to.)

Restaurant owners and managers understand that it is not so easy working in the restaurant environment. Tony Del Gatto says to work at his country club, a chef has to work six days a week, 12 hours a day, for both lunch and dinner services. That's more than 70 hours a week! The long hours are not only burdensome for both cooks and waiters, they are also taxing on their health, as they have to be on their feet all the time.

In addition, workers are not willing to accept low salaries anymore. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant wages range from a measly $8 an hour for dishwashers and to almost $20 for bartenders. Chefs earn about $12 an hour, while waiters and waitresses get about $16 (with tips included). Christine Nunn, a restaurant owner and chef states, "People come out of the Culinary Institute of America with a lot of debt, and they're not paying it off at $12 an hour."

Sadly, restaurants are unable to afford to pay more. Most restaurants already work on thin profit margins of only 4 to 6 percent.

Some analysts have noted that a slowdown in immigration may be another cause. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' reports reveal that 11 percent of Hispanic workers hold jobs in the restaurant and hospitality field. Furthermore, workers have difficulty in finding accessible transport to suburban restaurant jobs.


Fortunately, there are those who continue to stay and work in the fast paced environment of restaurants. Servers express that they love the bonds and interactions that make with customers, and chefs enjoy working with food too much to leave.

Michael De Vincenzi, a maitre d' states, "I want to be busy. I want it to be hectic. I like the stress. It's all adrenaline."


The News Tribune


 Looking to work in Hospitality?

Discover who’s hiring on Harri

Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news. 

Chef Shortage in Restaurant Kitchens



"There aren’t enough qualified cooks — or unqualified cooks," says a restaurant owner.

Small diners and fancy, fine dining restaurants are both facing the same problem – the extreme shortage of cooks in the kitchen. This was not an issue before. Co-owner and chef Alfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill stated, "If I had a position open in the kitchen, I might have 12 resumes, call in 3 or 4 to [try out] in the kitchen, and make a decision [a few years ago]," Now, that is not that case... Actually, it is the other way around. Restaurants are now constantly chasing after applicants, hoping to catch a break from the 'chef drought'.

There are several speculations as to why there has been a lack of chefs in the kitchen.

Too many restaurants opening

Restaurants are popping up left and right at an unbelievable pace, due to the resurgence in the economy. In a typical year, there would be around ten openings in downtown Denver, but in 2014, there were nearly 50. With that many new establishments being set up, there is not enough chefs to fill the open positions.

Age of instant success

In the past, restaurant workers would have to earn their stripes in the kitchen. They would need to work their way up in the ranks, starting at entry-level positions and then eventually in a few years time, they would hold executive-level titles. Nowadays, people have become impatient. They want everything, now, now, now!

Millennials are under the impression that success occurs instantaneously, and is something that does not need to be worked for. One reason is because of the whole 'TV chef' phenomenon. People think they could just hit it big by winning MasterChef or Top Chef. Chris Coombs, chef/owner of Boston Urban Hospitality, said, "They all want to be Anthony Bourdain. The television era has warped the perception of how much work it takes to get from where they are to where [Bourdain] is."

Pay is low

Of course, when it comes down to it, money matters. The total cost of culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America tips at more than $30K a year. However, starting annual salaries ranging from $22,000 to $35,000 are not cutting it. Recent graduates have personal living costs and growing student loans to pay. Living off such low wages are nearly impossible in urban cities. In turn, young job seekers are applying to big companies and restaurant chains, which have the ability to pay more and with benefits.

What can a restaurant do?

Our main focus at Harri is to make the hiring process easier, cost efficient as well as be your solution for industry wide challenges like the one mentioned in this article. Harri is a hospitality-focused startup created by a restauranteur for restauranteurs, so we truly understand the pain points associated with hiring in this industry. We are working tirelessly to bring happiness back to hiring in hospitality. Learn more about what Harri does and all that it has to offer in the video below:

 Looking to work in Hospitality?

Discover who’s hiring on Harri

Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news.