Top Chef Interview Questions

Discover the Top 10 Executive Chef Interview Questions

Executive chefs are among the highest-earning experts in the culinary industry, and for a good reason. These professional chefs take up managerial roles in the kitchen. So they are in charge of everything from kitchen operations and ensuring food quality to satisfying customers. They are also responsible for managing the kitchen staff. Before hiring an executive chef, restaurants look beyond their cooking skills. They consider their qualification, management, and technical skills. In this piece, we have compiled 10 of the most critical executive chef Interview questions restaurants ask before hiring. 

10 Executive Chef Interview Questions

Here are ten common questions executive chefs must answer during interviews. Hiring managers interviewing people for the chef position should consider these questions:

1. Describe the Training That You Have and How It Relates to This Position

This is one of the most crucial chef interview questions you should ask to get relevant information about the applicant. It allows them to sell themselves by talking about their educational background and culinary career. They should talk about any degree, apprenticeship, hands on experience, and specialization they have from a culinary school. It is about showing you how much effort they have put into perfecting their craft. 

2. How Does Food Cost Factor in Menu Creation?

One of the primary responsibilities of an executive chef is finding a balance between pleasing customers and maximizing the profitability of the restaurant. By asking this question, you give the applicant for the chef position a chance to demonstrate their efficiency in menu engineering in the culinary arts. They can show you how efficient they are in portion control, ingredient pricing, and other aspects of ensuring profitability while maintaining the quality of the meals. 

3. What Is Your Involvement with Purchasing and Receiving?

Vendors play a key role in supplying restaurant ingredients, and the head chef will negotiate with them. You need to find out if they have experience in this area. Find out how they choose vendors and how they will negotiate contracts for the best interest of the company. Some candidates come with a reliable network of suppliers for ingredients and spices. Others rely on the company's existing network. Either way, you will find the answers you need by asking this and other follow-up questions. 

4. List Some of Your Favorite Food Vendors and Why You Like to Work with Them

If the chef has a network of vendors, ask them to list the brand names. An applicant who is familiar with and has a working relationship with renowned vendors in the industry will do a good job. They should tell you why they choose certain vendors over others and highlight all the qualities that make their preferred vendors trustworthy. It should be qualities that align with your business goals, best practices, and objectives. 

5. What Foods Do You Like to Pair Together and Why?

This may seem like a fundamental question, but it is a vital way to gain insight into the candidate's taste. Their answer will help you determine if they have knowledge of flavors, ingredients, and meal pairing in food preparation. A good chef must know how to find the perfect balance between flavors and ingredients since they will cook for many people with different preferences. You could also ask them about wine pairings, which are often covered in culinary school.

6. How Does Your Winter Menu Differ from Your Spring Menu?

Since your restaurant will be serving meals throughout the year, your chef needs to understand seasonal variations in meal preparation. Their answer to this question will help you understand their creativity in adjusting their menus to meet customers' needs across seasons. You want a chef who knows how to take full advantage of seasonal produce all year round, not someone who can only prepare delicious meals during spring but fails to do so when winter comes. 

7. How Do You Control the Quality of the Food That Goes Out to Customers?

This is one of the most important executive chef interview questions because it can make or break your establishment. Beyond taste, a qualified chef must know how to ensure that the culinary practices in the restaurant are up to code. They should tell you what they know about recipe standardization, staff training on food quality control, and regular inspections to ensure that everything meets your restaurant's standards.

8. How Do You Take Ownership Over Customers?

The question is about finding out how the chef interacts with customers. Since customers are key to business success, it is a must-ask question. How does the chef react when a customer gives negative feedback or complains about the food or service they receive? The person applying for the chef position must have strong interpersonal skills like problem-solving, attention to detail, communication, and dispute resolution. 

9. What Do You Do When Customers Request Ingredient Substitutions?

This question also deals with customer satisfaction. As stated above, different customers have different tastes. Some may also have dietary restrictions, forcing them to request substitutes for a chef's original ingredients. The candidate must answer in a way that shows they are flexible and can improvise when necessary.

10. How Do You Handle Special Diets?

Like ingredient substitution requests, this question also helps you see how committed, creative, and flexible the head chef can be during different situations. The ideal candidate should be able to adjust their menu to suit their customers. While they don't need to be specialists, it would help if they know about special diets like keto, vegan, and vegetarian.

Also Read - Top 8 Chef Interview Mistakes You Should Avoid

What Does a Good Executive Chef Candidate Look Like?

The ten questions above help you choose the best executive chef for your company. This is because they allow you to identify the person with the best qualities. Some qualities you should look out for are:

1. Culinary Skills

It's a given that an executive chef should have excellent culinary skills. They should know all the modern and efficient cooking techniques related to their specialization. Find out which culinary school they attended and how many places they worked before applying to your company.

2. Leadership Abilities

An executive chef isn't just a cook but also a manager of kitchen staff. The right candidate should be charismatic enough to lead others. They should have an excellent management  style, communicate, delegate efficiently, and have good problem-solving skills.

3. Creativity

A good cook must be a creative genius who creates signature dishes that look and taste great. It would not suffice for your executive chef to handle common recipes throughout their culinary career.

4. Organization

Excellent organizational skills are another key quality every executive chef should have. Since they will be in charge of the kitchen and everything related to meal preparation, they should have a great sense of organization. 

5. Communication Skills

Effective communication is key to excellent collaboration. A chef should be able to express themselves effectively both verbally and non-verbally. They should also be good at using digital communication channels. 

6. Adaptability

Change is constant in every industry, and the culinary industry isn't left out. Trends change fast, and professional chefs must be able to adapt their technical skills to these changes if they want to succeed. 

7. Passion

Finally, an executive chef should enjoy cooking food and leading people. They shouldn't be doing it for the money alone but because they are passionate about culinary arts. 


As you can see in this chef interview questions list, asking interview questions helps hiring managers assess the candidate's abilities and experience in the culinary industry. Ensure the person you give the job has what it takes to handle the managerial responsibilities involved, not just the food preparation aspect of running a kitchen.

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