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Recruit and Hire a Kitchen Manager for Your Restaurant

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Isabelle HahnAuthor

More than half of restaurant owners cite hiring staff as the top challenge faced by their restaurants. 

When looking to bring in new kitchen management, you must ensure that your hiring process prioritizes experience and culture fit. Two of the most common pain points of current restaurant employees are not being recognized for hard work (44%) and bad managers (37%).

This is why we’ve put together a series of hiring guides for owners and managers alike to recruit, hire, and train every role in your restaurant. 

When hiring a kitchen manager, you’re looking for someone to coordinate and supervise your back-of-house, working diligently with your head chef and general managers to deliver a cohesive, consistent experience. 


Hire and Retain Great Restaurant Employees

Toast and Homebase teamed up to share tips on how to effectively hire and retain employees so you can have a happier team and reduce turnover.


How to Hire a Kitchen Manager

A day in the life of a restaurant kitchen manager brings multifaceted responsibilities and demands. It’s a role that combines leadership, culinary prowess, and logistical finesse. 

They steer your ship, so to speak, holding together a culinary vision while navigating kitchen and upper management dynamics. 

What is a Kitchen Manager?

A kitchen manager oversees your kitchen's daily operations, ensuring exceptional food quality, efficient processes, and a positive work environment. They coordinate and supervise your back of house. This role demands a balance of culinary expertise, leadership skills, and the operational finesse to drive a kitchen's success.

Why Do You Need One?

Determining why and if you need a kitchen manager will depend on how your restaurant kitchen currently runs. If it’s a tight ship with a small crew led by your head chef, it may be a role you can do without. 

However, many larger kitchens need a dedicated manager due to the span of control. Chefs, line cooks, expo, training, and hiring, approving and maintaining kitchen spend – these are just some of the daily reports and responsibilities a kitchen manager can have.

Span of control is a concept that helps determine how many employees are under the direct supervision of a manager. Usually used for corporations, it argues that small businesses of less than 500 employees should range from 1:5 to 1:10; supervisors: direct reports. New supervisors, like your new kitchen manager, will be most successful at the low end of this scale, while more experienced supervisors (head/executive chef) are better prepared to handle more reports. 

Define What You Need in a Kitchen Manager

There are many layers of expertise needed to succeed in this position. 

Here are some general qualities that a kitchen manager should have:

Culinary Proficiency: A clear understanding of culinary techniques, menu development, and food safety standards will help a kitchen manager execute the head chef’s vision. 

Leadership Skills: A great manager leads by example. They have communication skills, foster collaboration, and nurture talent. 

Great Communication: This role collaborates with everyone, communicating the kitchen's needs. 

Here are some ways to define what you need from a kitchen manager:

  1. Cultural Fit: A kitchen manager shapes the kitchen ethos. Every kitchen has its unique culture and its own rhythm. A kitchen manager preserves this.

  2. Determine Expertise. How many years of experience do you need? What is their span of control? Hiring a manger that doesn’t know how a kitchen works will be more work than doing without one completely.

  3. Consistency. Are they capable of leading the team to deliver quality food each night? What does your expo look like? Is everyone on the line trained effectively? A great kitchen manager is consistent with all of their tasks. 

  4. Leadership Style. Define the type of leadership your kitchen team works best with. What is your head chef’s leadership style like, and who would they best work alongside? What about your general manager? 

  5. Long-term Vision. How excited is the candidate to pursue a career with your establishment? Do they have ideas of their own?

  6. Budget and Salary. How much are you paying your new manager? What benefits come with this position, and what can you afford?

After considering all these things: it’s time to make your job posting. 

Create a Job Posting for your Kitchen Management Position

Now that you have thought about what you need from a kitchen manager, you must write a job description.

How to Write a Kitchen Manager Job Description

List the job's duties and responsibilities, schedule, experience necessary, and salary range. Highlight the best aspects of your restaurant culture, team, and any special job perks, such as benefits and educational opportunities.

Kitchen Manager Job Description Sample

Read more about writing a job description for your kitchen manager here. 

Job Title: Kitchen Manager

Salary: $55,000 to $75,000 per year

Tip Income: No

Schedule: Full-Time (40 hours per week). Monday – Friday.

Role: You are an outstanding manager with significant culinary experience who will supervise the daily kitchen operations of our restaurant. As the Kitchen Manager, you will demonstrate a hands-on approach to management and safety, ensuring our kitchen team adheres to the highest quality standards.Duties:

  • A positive leader with excellent communication skills

  • Knowledgeable of all kitchen operations

  • Supervise food prep and cooking

  • Supervise, coach, and motivate kitchen employees

  • Maintain high-performance standards

  • Train employees and manage schedules

  • Keep weekly and monthly cost reports

  • Maintain sanitation and safety standards in the kitchen

  • Minimum three years experience in a professional kitchen

Advertise the Kitchen Manager Job Opening

Most new employees discover their restaurant jobs through friends (55%) or social media (50%) — with that in mind, here’s how to get the word out about your job opening. 

Unlock the Vast Talent Pool Online

In any kind of hiring, online job boards are indispensable. Platforms like Indeed and Glassdoor serve as gateways to a trove of diverse talent. Use industry-specific platforms in tandem with other websites to reach more specific candidates. 

Leverage Social Media

Beyond job boards, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn engage potential candidates while amplifying your restaurant's brand. LinkedIn is akin to a job board, yet its shareability is its advantage. Harness your network and encourage team members to spread the word.

For other social media sites, you’ll need a visually appealing post and a link to your job posting. Or, depending on character limits, you can shorten the description and add it straight to the social platform.

Utilize Employee Referrals

Pay attention to the strength of your internal squad when on the hunt for talent. Establishing an employee referral program creates a network effect, encouraging team members to bring in their connections.

Financial incentives are a compelling motivator, but if resources are tight, consider alternative perks like complimentary meals, gift cards, or recognition.

Your Next Step: Screen the Resumes

Before interviewing, there's the crucial task of sifting through the stack of resumes—a task that can be daunting without a clear screening strategy.

You’ll need to establish a set of criteria for resume screening becomes imperative. Candidate evaluation will revolve around prior experiences, qualifications, skills, and, most importantly, their potential fit within the restaurant culture. Here's a curated list of essential criteria to kickstart your screening process:

Relevant experience: Look for candidates with a proven track record in the hospitality industry, particularly in previous management and kitchen roles. Look into the types of establishments they worked in. Are they similar to your restaurant? 

Customer service skills: Evaluate resumes for any mention of customer service achievements, positive feedback, or specific instances where the candidate went above and beyond to meet customer, client, or diner needs.

Adaptability and stress management: Restaurant environments can be fast-paced and unpredictable. Seek candidates who thrive under pressure and can adapt to changing situations seamlessly. They’re used to the rhythm of a BOH. 

Team player: Assess resumes for mentions of teamwork, collaboration, or instances where the candidate worked closely with colleagues to achieve common goals.

Then select your top contenders, and move onto the interview stage. 

Conduct Interviews 

In the interview, you’ll get to the heart of your candidate before diving into a specific skillset. 

First, introduce yourself and set clear expectations for the interview. How long will this process take, and who will they speak to? Also, assure them they will have a few minutes to ask questions. 

In many cases, restaurant management requires multiple interviews. Use the first as:

Stage 1: make it a phone screen or less formal conversation with behavioral, experiential, and culture-based questions. Then move to Stage 2: A more skills-based, preferably in-person interview with all stakeholders. Stage 3: might be a trial run of the service to ensure this person works well with the whole team. 

Behavioral Questions

Behavioral questions aim to uncover past behavior as a predictor of future performance, focusing on situations relevant to a kitchen manager’s responsibilities. 

Examples of behavioral interview questions:

  • Can you describe a time when you had to handle a challenging customer or a difficult service situation? How did you resolve it?

  • Describe a situation where you had to adjust your leadership technique to solve a problem.

  • What is an issue you’ve run into during service? How did you approach it?

  • What is the first thing you think about when hiring for a new line cook?

  • What qualities make for a great manager?

Skills-Based Questions

  • Describe a situation where you had to work with a head chef to adjust a menu due to budget constraints.

  • What aspect of your skill set are you working to improve?

  • Can you discuss a time when you implemented changes to improve kitchen workflow or reduce waste?

  • What cooking techniques or skills do you believe are essential for a successful kitchen manager, and how do you ensure your team maintains these skills?

Review References and Background Checks

Part of the hiring process is reviewing references and conducting background checks. It’s an essential aspect that job candidates will expect. This way, everyone in your restaurant is trustworthy, reliable, and will contribute to a happy team dynamic.

Contacting Past Employers

Work history and references can be extremely helpful in hiring the right manager.

Previous employer questions:

  • How did [candidate] manage their time, team, and energy?

  • Were they good with budgeting and inventory management?

  • Would you rehire them?

You should always ask permission before contacting previous employers to respect a candidate’s privacy. 

Criminal Background Checks

Background checks play a crucial role in legal compliance. Just as with contacting previous employers, it's imperative to acquire consent from candidates before initiating a background check. 

While a candidate's criminal record can be assessed to determine job suitability, it should never serve as the sole grounds for disqualification.

An important note on discrimination: a candidate’s criminal record should only be used to evaluate job suitability and not be the sole basis for disqualification. 

Make the Offer

Beyond a competitive salary, the offer should showcase elements of the position that speak to the candidate’s passion.

Provide a Written Offer Letter

A written offer letter serves as a formal legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of employment. Begin by addressing the hire by name, and express your enthusiasm for having them join your team. 

Repurpose the job description you wrote earlier as the job details: specify their position and responsibilities. 

Outline a compensation package, including base salary or hourly, any bonuses or benefits, and pay frequency (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly).

Detail the terms of employment (an employee agreement contract), and start date. Include background and certification check conditions, a deadline for acceptance, and a signature line. 

Compensation and Benefits

Be prepared for the possibility of negotiation. Some candidates may want to discuss their salary or benefits. Emphasize any unique aspects that will make your offer stand out. 

Set Expectations for Start Date and Onboarding

Confirm the agreed-upon start date with your new hire, and tell them about anything they need to bring on their first day and what to expect.

Orientation and Restaurant Policies

To make your new kitchen manager feel like part of the team from day one, introduce them to as many people as possible. Give them a brief tour of the establishment, and set up one-on-one check-ins with their direct reports in the coming days. 

In the first week, share insights into the restaurant's ethos, values, and the standard of service expected. Schedule shift observations so they can better understand how the kitchen works or how other kitchen managers handle it. Once they feel confident enough to step into service, watch how they lead and delegate, then communicate what you like about their approach and any feedback.

Establish open lines for feedback and encourage the manager to share their initial observations and suggestions. Ask them to be forthright with any skill gaps within the team and discuss plans for ongoing training and skill development.

Here’s our guide on how to train new restaurant employees.

Training on Equipment and Processes

Outline a training plan, including dedicating specific shifts to learning the restaurant’s menu and operational procedures. 

Encourage your new manager to ask questions and provide feedback throughout orientation. 

A note on restaurant retention after hiring

Most restaurant employees (46%) are motivated by making money and supporting their lifestyle — while 18% of restaurant employees are motivated by career development and growth within the restaurant industry. 

Retaining any role in a restaurant involves nurturing an environment and culture that fosters growth and cultivates a sense of belonging. Management is especially important because they contribute immensely to your culture.

High management turnover leads to lots of emergency change management, which can be difficult for everyone in the kitchen. 

Hiring management that respects your team’s expertise and experience is super important; employees thrive with appreciation and recognition. And ultimately, your kitchen manager should handle and elevate your culture.

How to Create an Effective Restaurant Training Manual

Restaurant training manuals help your employees get onboarded and ready to go. Follow our downloadable restaurant training manual template to get started.

Get Access

How to Hire a Kitchen Manager

The key steps in hiring a great kitchen manager are:

  • Define who your perfect kitchen manager is. How do they contribute to your kitchen dynamic? What are their hours, and how much is their salary? What experience do they bring to the table?

  • Write a job description with those qualities in mind. Remember to include the basics, such as location, position, and experience level needed. 

  • Share that job description far and wide. 

  • Screen resumes of potential candidates after creating a list of screening criteria. Reiterate who you’re looking for and who has the qualifications to fit your needs. Choose a handful for the next step in the process.

  • Conduct phone screens and interviews with a few qualified candidates. Ask all sorts of questions that cover skills, behavior, and culture fit. 

  • Review other application materials such as cover letters, personal statements, and recommendations. Call your candidates’ references if they have any. 

  • Make an offer on your top candidate.

  • Begin the onboarding process with retention and training top of mind.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.