How Do I Schedule the Hiring of a Japanese Executive Chef When Opening a Japanese Restaurant?

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We frequently receive questions from restaurant owners and hiring managers about when to start recruiting a Japanese executive chef for a new restaurant.

You do not want to hire a chef too early and end up paying more than necessary, but you also want to avoid delaying the opening due to the lack of candidates. This article is written to help people who are having such a dilemma.

1.  How Long Does It Take from Starting to Recruit to the First Day of Work?

Overview and Schedule from Recruiting to the First Day

There are various ways to find a Japanese head chef: you can use magazines, online sites, job postings on SNS, or agents like us. (For the hiring methods, go to this article.)

Here is the general hiring process. After candidates see the ad and contact you or apply for the job, their Resume/CV will be reviewed, and an interview is held in person or online. Then, an offer is made, a contract is signed, and the application for a visa is submitted.

The process will go smoothly, if you can hire a Japanese chef who is already working at another restaurant in the country and has a visa that allows the person to work. Yet in many cases, you will hire a chef working in Japan or other countries, so you need to understand that it takes some time until the chef can start the job.

First of all, it takes 2 to 6 months on average after you start to recruit until the new hire signs a contract. After that, it requires about a month to prepare documents for a visa application. It varies in each country, but it may take 2 weeks or even a year between the application and the issue of the work visa.

Some countries allow your new chef to enter with a short-stay visa at first and then apply for a work visa while looking for a place to live and preparing for the new life.

A Japanese Chef Cannot Quit Easily?

According to Japanese labor laws, you can quit your job with a two-week notice if your contract does not state any specific employment period. However, the restaurant industry in Japan is understaffed and it is actually difficult to quit in just two weeks. The candidate you want is highly likely to be needed at the current workplace and may be convinced to stay longer. There is also a tacit understanding that you should not trouble the restaurant when you quit. Many people are surprised to hear how long it takes for Japanese chefs to leave their current job, but I hope you understand it as a unique custom in Japan.

2. When Should I Bring in the Japanese Chef?

When you open a Japanese restaurant, the new chef can join from an early stage and help you decide on the restaurant concept or select the location or from a later stage after some preparations have already been made for the opening.

When You Work with the Chef from an Early Stage

In this case, you work with a Japanese chef who is experienced in establishing a new restaurant, about 2 months to a year before the opening. The preparations include defining a restaurant concept, securing a supply chain of the ingredients, researching your competition, selecting a location, designing decor, choosing kitchen appliances, and creating a menu.

Until the new chef signs an employment contract, you usually ask for their help under a consulting contract. You may be able to consult online, but we recommend that you have the chef visit the restaurant at an early stage before the opening so that the restaurant image can be shared.

When You Work with the Chef Once the Restaurant Is Ready

Even though the chef joins you after some preparations are made, such as finishing the interior, obtaining permits, deciding on a menu, and hiring the local staff, it is ideal he or she enters the country at least a month before the opening.

3. What Are Skills and Personality Suitable for the Executive Chef of a New Restaurant?

When you open a new Japanese restaurant, important skills and personality for the executive chef include the following elements.

Experience in Opening a Restaurant

If you have opened a restaurant before, you know that there are so many things to do before the launch date: signing a lease, working on the interior, obtaining permits and licenses for food service and liquor, creating a menu, selecting suppliers, hiring and training the staff, etc. To handle these tasks smoothly, you should find a chef who has experience in founding a restaurant.

Flexibility to Deal with Trouble

It rarely happens that everything goes as planned when you are preparing for a new restaurant. There may be a delay in the work on the interior, you may not be able to get a liquor license, or some ingredients may turn out to be unavailable. Since some problems will certainly arise, it is better to have an executive chef who can stay calm and handle them with different approaches.

Understanding of the Taste and Service Loved by Locals

When a restaurant uses Japanese and local ingredients, and when Japanese and local staff both cook and serve to create a successful restaurant together, you should not only commit to authentic Japanese cuisine but also understand what kind of food and service are loved by locals. It is perfect if the chef has worked at a Japanese restaurant in the neighborhood, but it is probably difficult to find such a person. At least, you should look for someone who is willing to learn about the taste of the locals and work hard to satisfy them.

Team-Building Skills

Right after starting a new restaurant, the employees tend to shoulder a lot of responsibility until the business builds its momentum. It is not an exaggeration to say whether they can stay highly motivated determines the future success of the restaurant. The executive chef needs team-building skills to bring everyone together by using language and gesture to convey his or her work ethics, passion, and commitment to training the staff.

When you open a new restaurant, after finding a suitable candidate and making a job offer, you need meticulous communication to inform the person of the situation. It is also important for both the restaurant and the candidate that he or she joins the preparation at the right time, so please feel free to consult our experienced team about schedule management.

4. What If I Have a Problem in Hiring?

“I do not know what my restaurant should feature to attract Japanese chefs.”

“I have an idea of the chefs I am looking for, but I do not know how to find them.”

“We tried to recruit on our own before without success, so we want to find a truly skillful chef this time.”

“Since no staff members speak Japanese, we want to entrust the whole task of hiring Japanese chefs to someone else.”

If you have a problem in recruiting quality Japanese chefs, feel free to contact us Washoku Agent!

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