Chefs for London

Culinary recruitment & management company, introducing culinary trained chefs and students to London's leading restaurants.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tips for Chefs: How to successfully ace a trial shift?

What should I do to be successful in my trial shift?

Be on time  

Being late for your trial shift is one of the worse things you can do, and you will not score any points by being late. I can guarantee you, your Chef will not be impressed. 

Make sure you know exactly where the restaurant is and how long it will take you to get there. Do this a day or two before your actual trial shift. We suggest you be there 30 minutes before your shift starts. 

What you need to bring with you to your trial shift.

London restaurants do not supply you with knives and asking to borrow a knife is like committing a crime. Be prepared it shows that you are serious about your career.


Black shoes are normally the best way to go but if you have white or other colours it should not be a problem. As long as they are up to kitchen safety regulation you should be okay. 


Black or blue and white check trousers are what most kitchens will accept. 


A black or white skull cap will do.

Jackets and Aprons

Most restaurants in London will supply you with a jacket and an apron. But make sure you take one with you just in case. White jackets and black aprons should be your best bet.  

Our advice will be for you to stick to the list we provided you with above. It will help you blend in with the other chefs and look the part. Please do not go and buy yourself fancy jackets and pants with funny pictures and colours. Most kitchens are open for the customers to see the Chefs working, and you will not be allowed to wear or use your uniform. 

Kitchen tour 

The Head Chef will take you on a tour of the kitchen before you start working and introduce you to fellow Chefs. Please pay attention when he does this it will be good for you if you can remember where everything is.  It will give you more or less an idea of how they operate and where to find and store products.  Calling fellow Chefs by their names will leave a good indication that you will have no problem fitting in quickly. 

Work clean 

Your Head Chef will assign you to a station, immediately get yourself organised with some soapy water and sanitiser for your section.  Wash down the bench before you start prepping any food. Please make sure that it is not the last time you wash your bench down. After every job, you complete wash down your bench and change the cutting board accordingly. 

Do not at any point stick your fingers inside the food to taste it or use the same spoon twice. It will very easily indicate to the Head Chef what type of training you have had in the past. 


If the Chef asks you to prep something (e.g. chop onion), ask him to show you exactly how he wants it done and then you can follow how he did it with the remainder. A good tip will be to leave his example in front of you so you can keep checking to make sure that you are still doing it as he showed you. 

Work fast 

Do the best you can but make sure that whatever you prep is exactly how the Chef wants it or better. The quality of your end product is more important than the time you did it in. 
Taking a bit longer to complete a job is better than trying to show the Chef how fast you can work and end up with a product that the Chef cannot serve. 

Next job 

Immediately after you finished the job that the Chef gave you clean down your section and ask what else you can help with. Please do not stand around and do nothing – this is crucial! There is nothing that annoys a Head Chef more than chefs standing around doing nothing. 

Ask questions 

If there is something you don't know about, do not be afraid to ask the Chef to explain it to you but don't ask too many questions to the point where you are annoying the Chef while he is busy getting things ready for service. 
Tip: If you feel the need to ask a lot of questions try asking different Chefs so that you don't bother just one Chef the whole time. 

Showing initiative  

Showing initiative is great, but we will suggest you keep it to yourself on your trial shift. What you don't want to do is try and change the Chefs menu on your trial shift. Keep your ideas to yourself and observe what is going on. There might be a very good reason they don't do things your way. 

Show interest 

Taking interested in what other Chefs are preparing will not only demonstrate that you are willing to learn, it will also give you a better idea of how they do things and help you with your decision at the end of the day. However, do this in moderation. If the Chefs are busy in their section, ask if there is anything you can help them with instead. 

Be social 

Show your fellow Chefs that you are social but try and focus on the job at hand. If you start talking too much about your weekend away and not focusing on what you are doing the chances of you making a mistake is much greater.

Service start 

If you are assigned to a station like fish, meat or pastry focus on the job and make sure you constantly organise and clean your section. It will help you deliver a better service and show the Chef you can handle the situation. 

If the Chef doesn’t assign you to a station, ask him what he wants you to do during service. The chances of him telling you to join him on the pass are good. So when service starts concentrate on what he is doing, learn the plates and as service goes on start helping him with the plates, wipe down the pass, hand him sauces, etc. Don't just stand there, get involved.  

After service 

Clean down and if you are finished with your section start helping other Chefs clean down their sections. Don't stop until the whole kitchen is clean and organised.

At this point, the Chef will ask you to sit down for a meeting with you to discuss what is going to be the next step or he might ask you to stay for the late shift as well. It is usually a good thing and he wants you to see a different style of service for the night time or whatever else his reason might be. Do not say "No". If you are busy cancel whatever plans you had and make sure you stay for the late shift. It will show the Chef that you are motivated and not afraid to work hard. 

Follow these tips correctly during your trial shift and I will say 60% of the job is done and the rest will depend on your cooking abilities.  

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