So, you applied for that job, made it through a round or two of interviews and now the owners want you to come in for a tasting – to show off your skills and that you aren’t all talk and can back up your fancy (or not so fancy) resume. It can be scary and intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are some tips:
1. Know exactly what they want you to make. How many courses? Are they looking to change directions of their menu?
2. In developing a menu, be intentional about it. Have a variety of flavor profiles, preparations, etc. while still having a cohesive theme to it. Be intentional about everything you use. Surprise them with things they might now have expected from you.
3. Create a menu, list ingredients and have a checklist – send it over ahead of time. You don’t want to leave anything at home or forget to buy something at the grocery store. It’s hard to keep track of 4 or 5 courses worth of ingredients.
4. Know what kind of equipment you will have to work with. You don’t want to get to the restaurant and start looking around for the salamander that doesn’t exist.
5. Do as much work at home or ahead of time as you can. The last thing you want to be doing, is throwing together your ingredients at the last minute, having to cook everything – when you have 4 courses that can be incredibly stressful. You don’t need any avoidable stress.
6. Organize and label the ingredients for each dish in a way that makes sense. For me, that means having all the components of each dish in it’s own bag with everything labeled inside.
7. Make friends with the staff that is there. sometimes, especially for a new concept under a restaurant group that has other restaurants, they will have you cooking out of one of the pre-existing kitchens. Make friends with them when you get there, tell them about your menu and have a little leftover for them to try. If they like it or you, they’ll tell the owners.
8. Space dishes out in a reasonable time frame, 5-7 min apart – enough time for the stakeholders to talk about and enjoy each dish (or a few bites), but not feel like they are waiting around on you, because you aren’t prepared.
9.Make your dishes look damn good. During the planning phase, sketch up each completed dish and know how you’re going to present it. Don’t just throw it together, but have a reason for why it’s plated a certain way – for color, to maintain crispness, flavor contrast, etc.
10. Clearly articulate what is in each dish and why you choose those ingredients and techniques. Do this as you are passing them out.
11. Practice. Before it’s time to go in and show off your skills, practice, practice, practice. You need to be confident, and the best way to achieve thst is through really knowing your stuff.
Thank them for the opportunity – in person and via email or even hand written.