Choosing The Perfect Employee: Auditions and Probations are Key

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culinary auditionThe last time I had to audition for a position in a restaurant was in the 1980s. I thought the chef for whom I would work was somewhat eccentric until recently when I found I was in the same position—auditioning chefs for just the same reason. There is no way to know if the chef you are hiring is any good at cooking the recipes you have fine tuned for the last ten years until you give him (or her) one of them, allow them free reign in your kitchen and let them have a go at it.

I was told by more than one instructor while in culinary school that any good chef should be able to cook eggs 100 ways. In my opinion, the measure of a good chef should not be how many ways he can cook an egg, but rather, how well he can duplicate THE RECIPE you have spent decades developing. For that, you need to audition each and every potential employee.

Once you have found the candidate who can read the recipe, understand the difference between just cover and fill to brim, and knows the difference between a “sweat” and “sautee”, you can then start the probation phase. Having been in the industry for some time, in addition to two decades of retail experience, I am well aware of two things:

First, most often, employees come and go in the first two weeks of employment. Save yourself the expense of adding and deleting employees to the payroll by insisting on a 30 day probationary period during which time the employee will be paid on a contract basis.

Second, it takes at least two weeks of working side by side before seeing the “real” employee. All job seekers put forth a professional demeanor at first to make a good impression. It takes time for the “real” personality to take over and for the employee to feel confident enough to drop the façade and be at home. The 30 days of probation allows the “real” employee to shine through. If after 30 days, you still think you have a winner, sign him on!

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630

Last modified: April 27, 2013
Angela Bell

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

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