115 Questions to Ask a Chef in an Interview

Picking the right chef for your restaurant is more than just finding a wizard with flavors; it’s about discovering a partner who will jive with your restaurant’s heartbeat. So, an interview isn’t just a chat; it’s your tool to peel back the layers of a chef’s resume and taste their vision for your menu.

In this guide, we’ll cook up the essential questions that help you grill into a chef’s skills and see if they have the secret ingredient your restaurant needs. Let’s get the conversation sizzling and find you a chef who’ll bring the right flavor to your table.

Understanding The Chef’s Background And Experience

About Their Culinary Education And Training

  1. What inspired you to become a chef?
  2. Can you tell me about your formal culinary education and how it has shaped your cooking style?
  3. What were the most valuable skills you learned during your training?
  4. Are there any particular chefs or culinary instructors who have been influential in your career?
  5. How do you keep your culinary skills sharp and up to date?
  6. Have you specialized in any particular cuisine or cooking technique during your education?
  7. Did you have an opportunity to study or work abroad? How did that influence your approach to cooking?
  8. What was your favorite subject in culinary school and why?
  9. How important do you think formal culinary education is in the making of a chef?
  10. Can you share an experience from your training that had a significant impact on you?
  11. After your formal education, did you pursue any additional training or apprenticeships?
  12. How did your culinary training prepare you for the realities of working in a commercial kitchen?
  13. Were there any cooking techniques or cuisines you found particularly challenging during your studies?
  14. How have you continued your culinary education after graduating from your formal training program?
  15. Did you participate in any culinary competitions or events as a student, and what did you learn from those experiences? 
  16. What was the most unexpected lesson you learned during your time in culinary school?

About Their Work History 

  1. Could you walk me through your work history and the different types of kitchens you’ve worked in?
  2. What was your role in your most recent kitchen, and what were your daily responsibilities?
  3. How have the kitchens you’ve worked in differed from one another, and what have you learned from these environments?
  4. Can you describe a particularly busy service you’ve managed and how you handled it?
  5. What’s the biggest kitchen you’ve been a part of, and how did you find your place within the team?
  6. Have you ever helped open a new restaurant or rebrand an existing one? What was that like?
  7. Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a new kitchen culture quickly.
  8. How do you approach menu planning and design in different kitchen settings?
  9. What styles of cuisine have you cooked, and which do you feel most comfortable with?
  10. What do you consider the high point of your culinary career so far?
  11. How do you approach creating a special or feature dish when given the opportunity?
  12. What’s the most memorable event or banquet you’ve had the pleasure of preparing food for?
  13. How do you stay organized during a rush, and could you give an example of how this helped you avert a crisis?
  14. In your past roles, how did you contribute to the training and development of junior staff?
  15. Can you share an instance where you had to step outside your comfort zone in the kitchen and what you learned from it?
  16. How have your previous experiences shaped your leadership style in the kitchen?
  17. What dish or menu from your past work are you most proud of and why?
  18. How have you handled dietary trends or requests for special menus in your previous kitchens?
  19. Can you discuss a time when you had to significantly adapt a recipe due to constraints, such as budget or availability of ingredients?
  20. Have you ever been part of a team that received culinary awards or recognition? What was your role in achieving this?

About Challenges They’ve Faced In Previous Roles

  1. Have you ever faced a significant challenge with a dish or a menu? How did you resolve it?
  2. Can you share an experience where you had to deal with unexpected supply issues?
  3. What was a difficult team dynamic you encountered, and how did you manage it?
  4. Describe a time when you had to work under extreme pressure. How did you maintain the quality of the food?
  5. Have you ever had to manage a situation with difficult feedback from customers? How did you handle it?
  6. Could you tell me about a time when you had to quickly adjust a menu due to unforeseen circumstances?
  7. How do you tackle the challenge of maintaining consistency in your dishes across different shifts and teams?
  8. What strategies do you employ to ensure your kitchen maintains high standards during a particularly tough service?
  9. Can you share a story of a time when ingredient quality didn’t meet your expectations and how you handled it?
  10. Have you ever encountered a problem with kitchen equipment during service? How did you work around that issue?
  11. What’s the toughest feedback you’ve received from a mentor or peer, and how did you use it to improve?
  12. Describe a time when you had to make do with a limited kitchen staff—how did you manage the workflow?
  13. Can you talk about a period when you had to juggle multiple events or catering jobs? How did you prioritize?
  14. What’s one of the hardest decisions you’ve had to make in the kitchen, and how did you decide?

Cooking Philosophy And Style

About Their Culinary Influences And Inspirations

  1. Who do you consider to be your biggest culinary inspiration, and why?
  2. Can you describe a cuisine or chef that has significantly influenced your cooking style?
  3. How do you translate your personal culinary inspirations into the dishes you create?
  4. Are there any food philosophies or movements you are particularly passionate about?
  5. How do you balance tradition and innovation in your cooking?
  6. Have you ever had a culinary epiphany — a moment where your perspective on cooking completely changed?
  7. How do you incorporate local and seasonal ingredients into your menu planning?
  8. What cookbook or culinary literature has had the most impact on you?
  9. Who has had the most influence on your cooking, and what have you learned from them?
  10. How do your personal preferences and tastes inform your professional creations?

About Their Signature Style Or Dishes

  1. Could you describe your signature cooking style in three words?
  2. What dish would you say best represents your culinary identity?
  3. How have you developed your signature style over the years?
  4. In what ways do you think your style sets you apart from other chefs?
  5. What techniques or ingredients do you favor in your cooking?
  6. Can you walk me through the process of creating one of your signature dishes?
  7. How do you ensure that your personal style is reflected in every dish you serve?
  8. What dish do you enjoy preparing most, and why does it resonate with you?
  9. If you were to mentor a young chef, what key elements of your style would you want to impart?
  10. How do your signature dishes evolve with changing trends and customer preferences?

About Culinary Food Trends

  1. How do you stay informed about current food trends, and how have they influenced your menus?
  2. Can you give an example of a recent food trend you’ve embraced in your kitchen?
  3. What’s your approach to balancing trendy foods with classic dishes on your menu?
  4. How do you decide which food trends are worth following for your menu?
  5. Are there any food trends you are skeptical about or choose not to follow?
  6. How do you gauge the response of your patrons when introducing a trendy new dish?
  7. How do you blend your own style with popular trends to create something unique?
  8. Can you share a time when a food trend significantly affected your menu planning or ingredient sourcing?
  9. How do you predict which current trends have the staying power to become classics?
  10. What’s your philosophy on adapting global food trends to suit local tastes?

Leadership And Team Management

About Their Leadership Style

  1. How would you describe your leadership style in the kitchen?
  2. Can you share an experience where your leadership made a difference in a kitchen’s performance?
  3. What do you find most challenging about leading a kitchen team, and how do you address it?
  4. How do you motivate your team during a stressful service?
  5. What’s your approach to delegating tasks in the kitchen?
  6. How do you handle conflicts within your kitchen staff?
  7. Can you tell me about a time you had to mentor or coach a struggling team member?
  8. What methods do you use to ensure clear communication in the kitchen?
  9. How do you foster a culture of learning and improvement among your kitchen staff?
  10. What’s your process for evaluating the performance of your team members?
  11. In your view, what are the key qualities of a successful kitchen leader?
  12. Can you describe a situation where your leadership helped improve the kitchen’s efficiency?
  13. What is your approach to giving feedback to your team, both positive and constructive?
  14. How do you ensure that your expectations are met while also encouraging creativity among your staff?
  15. How do you keep your team inspired and passionate about their work?

About Staff Training And Development

  1. How do you approach the training of new kitchen staff?
  2. What’s your philosophy on ongoing professional development for yourself and your team?
  3. Can you discuss a successful training program you’ve implemented or been a part of?
  4. How do you keep your team updated with the latest culinary techniques and trends?
  5. How do you identify and nurture talent within your team?
  6. Can you share an experience where you helped a team member grow their skills significantly?
  7. What’s your approach to cross-training staff in the kitchen?
  8. How do you assess when a team member is ready to take on more responsibility?
  9. What strategies do you use to build a strong, cohesive team?
  10. How do you introduce a new technology or system into your kitchen?

About Operational Aspects

  1. How do you manage inventory and ordering to minimize waste and maximize efficiency?
  2. Can you describe your experience with budget management in the kitchen?
  3. What’s your strategy for menu pricing while keeping food costs in check?
  4. How do you ensure food safety and hygiene standards are consistently met?
  5. Can you walk me through how you plan and execute a large-scale event or banquet?
  6. What systems do you put in place to handle the rush hours smoothly?
  7. How do you manage your suppliers to ensure the best quality ingredients?
  8. Can you share your experience with any kitchen technology or software that helps with kitchen management?
  9. What’s your approach to reducing the environmental impact of your kitchen operations?
  10. How do you evaluate the success of a service or a menu item?

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make the chef comfortable during the interview?

Good rapport makes for a better interview. Start with lighter questions, maintain eye contact, and show genuine interest in their answers.

Tip: Smile, nod, and give verbal cues to show you're engaged.

What kind of questions should I avoid during a chef job interview?

  • Personal: Stay clear of questions that are too personal or unrelated to the job role.
  • Discriminatory: Never ask about race, religion, gender, age, or other protected characteristics.
  • Leading questions: Avoid questions that suggest a “correct” answer or put words in the candidate’s mouth.

How can I tell if a chef is creative during an interview?

  • Ask for examples: Request that they talk about a time they created a new dish or menu.
  • Menu challenge: Give them a list of ingredients you often use and ask for a spontaneous dish idea.
  • Food trends: Inquire about their take on the latest food trends and how they would implement them in your kitchen.


Selecting a chef is more than just picking a kitchen whiz. It’s about finding a leader who fits your restaurant’s vibe and handles the heat with ease. We hope this list of questions helps you uncover the best match, ensuring you find someone who can both delight the senses and steer your culinary journey in the right direction.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Share it on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Photo of author

Robby is a multimedia editor at UpJourney with a journalism and communications background.

When she's not working, Robby transforms into an introverted art lover who indulges in her love for sports, learning new things, and sipping her favorite soda. She also enjoys unwinding with feel-good movies, books, and video games. She's also a proud pet parent to her beloved dog, Dustin.