Over the years, I’ve witnessed many executive chefs start a new role at a club. This is followed by much fanfare and promotional investment as many of these chefs are high-profile and very skilled. But suddenly, they’re gone like a puff of wind.

This is often because club managers and directors are itching for change and improvements to have happened yesterday. The initial pressure and demands piled onto the new recruit are always very high.

This often results in the new executive chef attempting to solve all the problems simultaneously while creating multiple menus for different food and beverage outlets and function areas across a club.

What could go wrong?

It’s imperative that when hiring a new executive chef, clubs have a clear idea of what they want changed, and have a realistic timeline mapped out, which includes scheduled waypoints to work towards. KPI expectations should always be incremental to avoid any sudden changes.

Remember why you needed a new chef. Be mindful of their need for time off; it’s critical they are working at full capacity, as opposed to being ragged and exhausted from excess hours.

Explain all sponsorship arrangements the club is engaged in, so they understand the important nature of these ongoing and often long-term relationships. Be honest and upfront. It’s very hard for a new executive chef to compare apples with apples on pricing, especially if the playing field is not flat.

Encourage them to hasten slowly – change made with strong systems and acceptance is more likely to last and have a real long-term effect on the business.

Monitor how the team is reacting to the new whirlwind of changes and moderate the pace of change because if existing sous chefs and chefs are expected to go from their comfortable cruising speeds to hitting new altitudes in record time, tempers and egos will be tested.

Or worse, they might hijack and undermine any new procedures that are introduced. An atmosphere of resistance can become a huge roadblock for a new leader if handled poorly – and often it is.

Failure to adhere to some of the above invariably can result in a quick departure. Or worse still, you rapidly start losing your loyal staff and upcoming leaders.

Seek advice and professional guidance when making decisions that affect your whole team to ensure you get it right the first time.

Paul RifkinHead Chef Mentoring and Fine-Tuning Specialist for Club Catering chefpaulrifkin consulting

Paul Rifkin

Paul Rifkin is a former club executive chef and now chef consultant to the clubs industry on menus, kitchen design and catering analysis.

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