Chef Tasting Interview Tips

Chef Tasting Interview

Editor’s note: Chef Tasting Interview Tips was originally published in April 2021 and updated in May 2022.

As part of your chef job application, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to a tasting interview as part of the hiring process.

While there’s no such thing as a standard tasting interview, they’re all a test of your chef ability. It could be market basket based, a creative tasting you can partially prepare for, or it might focus on recreating an establishment’s signature dishes.

Tasting interviews are designed to highlight your timing, the quality of food you produce, your work habits in the kitchen and general communication skills. They can be tough, pressurised and anxiety inducing in equal measure!

We’ve seen candidates galore look eminently suitable on paper but, for all sorts of reasons, flunk the tasting interview. So how can you stop that from happening? Let’s consider.

Chef tasting interview tips – determine what the employer is looking for

This is the most important rule. Be sure you know what the business wants and expects. Listen very carefully. If they stress local ingredients, or French style, or comfort food, they mean it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take notes, and if you have a question before the tasting, send them an email or give them a call.

Don’t miss a tasting interview

The restaurant community is niche and networked. It does not pay to burn bridges by simply failing to turn up to tasting interviews. If you’ve committed to it – turn up for it.

It is always better to turn up and flunk it, than fail to turn up. If you need to travel to it, try to get there the night before as this takes away travel stress on top of performance stress!

Chef tasting interview tips – know what you’re being asked to do

Are you to create a dish or series of dishes, will it be an item from their menu, do they require you to prepare or bring anything specific with you? How many are you cooking for? How long are you going to be given in the kitchen?

Stay within your comfort zone

If you are able to choose the item(s) to be cooked, prepare items you know. A tasting is no time to challenge yourself. Choose items you can create easily and have often prepared. Unless it is absolutely unavoidable, never do anything new in a tasting. Avoid last minute changes. Also, be painfully aware not only of taste but of presentation. If possible, do a run through of the tasting at home.

It’s standard policy to take your own chef whites and knives

Avoid items which require special utensils or hard to find ingredients. Be sure that the kitchen has those basic utensils you will need.

Chef tasting interview tips – be respectful to everyone in the kitchen

You are being watched. Your potential employer will ask other employees what they thought of you.

Work cleanly and professionally

This should be second nature to you already. If you can, check out the space in advance and make sure you arrive early.

But also try hard to stay calm

Rely on your training and past experiences to get you through!

Go into the dining room when the tasting is finished

This is good manners. However, don’t if you’re not invited or asked. Treat the employers as guests. Ask what they thought of the meal. Listen to their feedback and acknowledge it in a professional manner. Be prepared to explain and discuss the dishes you created and prepared.

Chef tasting interview tips – clean up after yourself

Thank the staff you worked with and thank the potential employer, even if you think things went poorly. Smile and shake hands.

This is no time to drink

If you are offered an alcoholic drink at any time during your tasting interview decline it politely. Do not have a drink at the bar afterwards either.

Read: Chef Job Interview Questions

And lastly…

Remember it never hurts at the end of a tasting interview to send a ‘thank you’ email, whether you end up getting the job or not. You may want to apply to join them in the future. Best of luck, Chef!

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