Interviewing with a Celebrity Chef or Restaurateur

Interviewing with a Celebrity Chef or Restaurateur

We are privileged to serve all of our clients, and some of our clients have celebrity status. Some are Chefs with hit TV shows, best-seller cookbooks, and successful worldwide businesses. Some are restaurateurs who seem to strike gold with every new operation they open. When you are interviewing with an operator who has celebrity status (or their people), here are two added protocols to help you land the job.

Don’t Gawk, Gaze, Glare or Act Star-struck

The most important rule when interviewing to work for a celebrity is not to act like a crazed fan. That will surely get you rejected.  Even if you are a huge fan, and this person has inspired you for years, keep it under wraps throughout the interview process.

Successful celebrities know how to use the media and their status to drive their businesses. Most have an “on air” persona and “off air” persona, and they tend to be driven entrepreneurs. When they are in “CEO mode” they are focused on building their business, not on relating to an adoring fan. If you cause those worlds to collide, you will most likely be rejected.

Get the job, get settled in for a few months, and at an opportune time share with your celebrity boss how they influenced your career over the years. It will be a great moment for the two of you.

Be Bright, Be Brief, Be Done

Celebrities have to be tightly scheduled to get through every day, and they tend to have “Type A” personalities. Their handlers and senior staff are the same. If you want to get rejected, take a long time getting to the point and tell rambling stories during your interview.

If you want to succeed, practice answering questions as succinctly as possible while giving examples of your experience that reinforce why you are the best pick for the job. Here is a brief outline example response to a sample question:

Question:

“You will be under tremendous pressure because this restaurant is super-high volume and we expect perfection on every plate. What makes you think you can handle that?”

Answer:

  • That’s a great question. I am interviewing for this position because experience has prepared me for exactly this challenge.
  • I worked under Chef X and Chef Y who instilled in me a passion for perfection. Under those Chefs I learned what needs to be done, from procurement to prep and through execution, to consistently produce at the highest level of quality.
  • In those restaurants and also while at Restaurant A and Hotel B, I learned to add the dimension of high volume. Those were $# Million and $# Million F&B operations. The volume did not get in the way of quality, and our team earned ________ review and _______ award.
  • It gets intense, yes. I believe when you check around about me you will find that my teams will say that I remain calm and focused, and lead the kitchen through whatever comes our way.
  • For instance, (tell a quick story about getting “flat sat” or large parties during the rush, and how you came through successfully – your responses are impactful whenever you can reinforce with real experience and quantifiable KPI’s)

You should be able to answer questions like the one above in less than two minutes. When the interviewer asks you to expound on one of your positions or experiences, then the interview can go into a more conversational mode. If the interviewer gets more relaxed, you can go into more detail but refrain from telling rambling stories because the interviewer still wants to control the pace and length of the interview.

Celebrity Chefs and restaurateurs tend to be hard-chargers and perfectionists. Be prepared to work long hours, apply everything you have learned, and bring you’re very best every day. You have to take ownership. Nothing less will satisfy your boss.

It takes a special professional DNA to succeed long-term on the staff of a celebrity operator. If you can succeed at that level of pressure over time, it is great career experience that will prepare you for bigger positions or entrepreneurial ventures.   Prepare to get your affirmation from the satisfied guests, as Type A’s are not the best at handing out “atta-girls” and “atta-boys”…and try to build in some work-life balance!

The mission of Strategic Hospitality Search (SHS) is to partner with our clients throughout the US to create cultures of excellence and to enhance the careers of our candidates.  SHS provides expert talent acquisition and consulting services, empowering clients to develop a more aligned work environment resulting in increased profitability and amplified innovation.  To learn why hospitality leaders and entrepreneurs call on SHS When Talent Matters Most, visit www.shs.jobs

Joseph D’Alessandro

About Joseph D’Alessandro

Joseph spent 15 years in leadership positions in hospitality operations before becoming a full-time executive recruiter in 2000. Joseph founded SHS in 2002 and has grown the business from a one-person outfit to a full team of dedicated experts.

To discuss your search with an experienced recruiter dial
630-837-0400