Tags Posts tagged with "Interview"

Interview

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I have recently noticed a lot of food trucks across the country have been looking for window service staff and even some discussion in message boards where vendors are seeking insight on how to hire top performers.

interview questions

Coming from my time as a recruiter (aka headhunter) in the automotive industry, I can tell you that the best answer to this question is in asking the right questions to determine the skills that the server is bringing to the table.

These questions will help you determine whether the applicant you are interviewing has the talent and personality to be a top performer in your food truck. What you can learn from the answers to these questions will help you avoid poor hiring decisions and enable you to build your staff with the best servers in town.

Here are four questions that should be included in every window server interview:

Describe Your Favorite Meal.

This will give you insight into an applicant’s ability to sell and their passion for food. If they cannot describe their favorite meal in a way that makes you salivate, how are they going to describe your food truck specials? Any applicant that fails to impress you with their description will require a great deal of time and effort to train. This should not result in an immediate rejection, but should serve as a red flag.

What Do You Like About The Mobile Food Industry?

The answer you are looking for here is one that shows a passion for the industry. Be cautious of a server that loves the ability to work with friends, get off for their band’s gigs, or make a bunch of money. These servers are looking at the industry as a means to an end, but not passionate about it. Loving the pace of the business, impacting the guests’ experience, or contributing to a team are all great answers that come from top performers.

What Would You Change About The Food Truck Industry?

This question works in much the same way as the previous one, but measures something different. The answer to this question will uncover the level of frustration and burnout a server may already have with the industry. This gives them a chance to vent their frustrations to you, before they vent them on the guest. Be wary of any answers that are critical of guests or former managers. A hostile response may indicate a server who will lower morale.

Why Do You Want To Work Here?

This question is commonly asked, but the answer is often misinterpreted. The answer to this question will give you a great idea of how they view your food truck. If they cannot tell you why your food truck excites them, then they are probably just looking for a job. While all applicants are looking for a job, those that do not hold your mobile food business in high regard will often jump ship at the next opportunity. Finding employees who are excited about your food truck will significantly decrease turnover and help insure that your new employees bring a sense of excitement to your staff.

None of us should be naive enough to believe that an applicant will be completely honest in their interview. There are always going to be exaggeration and positive spin placed on their responses. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ask questions that they are not expecting or that actually test their skills. Responses that have not been rehearsed will provide more accurate information than those that are carefully planned. If you want a more accurate answer, you need to ask a better question. These are five great questions to start with.

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tip of the dayThe point of a job interview is to make sure the candidate has the necessary skills to do the work in your food truck. But aside from references, how can you determine if a potential employee actually knows what they claims to know?

Here are three tips for finding out how deep a person’s knowledge and experience goes:

  • Ask “how” and “why.” When an interviewee relays a success story, drill down to understand as much as you can. Keep asking, “How did you do that?” or “Why?” until you get to a question the prospective food truck employee can’t answer. This isn’t always comfortable but it will shed light on their true capabilities.
  • Bring in a fellow interviewer. With two people conducting the interview, one of you can focus on asking the right questions and the other can listen attentively to responses.
  • Test them. It is common practice within the foodservice industry to have a physical test for cooks and service staff. If you are hiring a line cook, give them a recipe to follow, and let them show you how they prepare it. You may even want to eliminate particular ingredients to see if they question you on it while tasting. For servers, have them role play with you. You play a problematic customer, and see how they react.

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In a recent interview with Sarah Bennet of DMagazine, the host of the Great Food Truck Race sat down and discussed a number of issues. Most of which revolved around his new book, others on the Great Food Truck Race and the mobile food scene in Dallas.

tyler-florence

Sarah Bennett: Is there going to be a season 4 of The Great Food Truck Race? If so, what would it take for one of our Dallas food trucks to get on the show?

Tyler Florence: That’s a really good question. We’re meeting at the end of the week about it. When the show is over, we have an end-of-year wrap up/planning session. We’ll start shooting in April. We haven’t pinpointed the root of how we’re getting across the country.

SB: Have you tried any of our Dallas food trucks? What’s your favorite one?

TF: I haven’t been to Dallas in a while, probably in about two years, and my last trip was a very fast, in-and-out trip, so I have not. But here’s the thing: I think food trucks are the new answer to American fast food. The idea of raising two or three million dollars and going through red tape to open a restaurant, there’s lots of barriers to success. There’s a really easy jumping place for food trucks. It’s very hip and acceptable for new chefs to open a food truck first.

Find the entire interview <here>

 

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This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the owner of the Santa Fe based food truck, Slurp.

Rebecca Withers Chastenet

Name: Rebecca Withers Chastenet

Age: 45

Food truck name: Slurp

Location: Santa Fe, NM

Year started in the mobile food industry: late 2010

Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?

Rebecca Withers Chastenet: Serendipity, really. A wine-soaked dinner party among friends found me teaming up with 2 partners, one a chef, the other the consummate host and uber party planner. I was a dormant food writer, ready to trade my pen for an apron and do something new. A year and a half later, two of us (the chef lasted only 2 short months!) cook from scratch each morning and feed a community of friendly Santa Feans.

MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?

RWC: My family were foodies before foodies were “cool.” Mom and Dad were part of a gourmet club. My grandparents cooked and entertained with pizazz. My younger sister is a trained chef and styles food without even trying to make it look beautiful.

MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?

RWC: The ambiance. We’re housed in a 1967 Airstream Trailer on a one-way side street, but music wafts out the windows along with the scent of saffron-riddled paella, bubbling soup pots, and trailer-baked focaccia bread. Plants, prayer flags, chairs covered in adorably funky mix & match oilcloth upholstery, and a huge spoon on the roof round out the picture…

MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?

RWC: As a food writer/blogger and truck owner, I’d like to see the two collide into a book or TV project, or app.

MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?

RWC: Go for it! Put your personality into it and create your food with love. The rest will follow!

Rebecca Chastenet

Twitter: @SLURPSantaFe

Santa Fe’s ONLY Airstream eatery offering 3 from-scratch soups, trailermade bread, coffee, chai & beverages in eco take out containers weekdays from 7 to 3.

 

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This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the owner of the Denver based food truck, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs.

biker jim

Name:  Jim Pittenger

Age:  Me or the truck?

Food truck name:  Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

Location: Denver or wherever

Year started in the mobile food industry: 2005

Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?

Jim Pittenger: It was easier than becoming rocket surgeon.  That and I had pushed the safety limits of my previous job as a repo man.

MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?

JP: Probably my friend M.A. in Alaska (M.A.’s Gourmet Dogs)  He told me I should sell hot dogs on a street corner, I’d be good at putting wieners in peoples mouths.

MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?

JP: The badass wrap on the outside and the badass brats on the inside…oh yeah, we’re pretty badass at serving those things.

MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?

JP: Truck?  You mean trucks don’t you?

MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?

JP: If you’re looking for a job forget it.  However, this just might be the funnest, weirdest, most rewarding thing you can do.  The best quote I’ve ever heard about street vending is, “This is the hardest I’ve ever worked for easy money!”

Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs

Twitter: @bikerjimsdogs

Biker Jims knows his wieners.

16th & Arapahoe in Denver · http://www.bikerjimsdogs.com

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This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the co-owner of the Nashville based food truck, Riffs Fine Street Food.

B.J. Lofback

Name: B.J. Lofback

Age: 40

Food truck name: Riffs Fine Street Food

Location: Nashville, TN

Year started in the mobile food industry: 2011

Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?

B.J. Lofback: Food has been a passion of mine as long as I can remember. However, I was too opinionated to find my way in the restaurant world.  After years in digital marketing, I happened to read about Kogi BBQ in LA in 2009 and immediately set about making plans for my truck.  The idea was just too amazing not to do!  I’d been out of the food business for 12 years, but this was to be my way back in but under MY terms.

MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?

BJL: Well I’d have to say Roy Choi of Kogi.  Considering one article about his venture (or should I say adventure)  was all it took to change the direction of my life and here I am today.  Beyond Chef Choi, I would say my wife Tonya.  While she has no interest in cooking professionally, she’s amazing at everything she does.  Its effortless to her.  She taught me how to put love into my food and take it beyond creative expression.

MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?

BJL: Probably the fact that we break the cardinal rule that you must have a set menu.  Most trucks you walk up and know what you’re in for, burgers, grilled cheese, BBQ, whatever…  For us, I can’t tell you what we’re doing tomorrow much less next week.  While that’s a slight exaggeration, it is true that you might see three different menu’s in a given week.  We get bored quickly and inspired just as fast.  While some people don’t get that, the vast majority praise us for our ability to always have something they want to try!  While we definitely play our hits, you’ll catch us jamming a good portion of the time!

MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?

BJL: People ask us all the time if we plan to open a restaurant.  The answer is always “No!”  Carlos (my friend and business partner) and I got into the food truck business because we wanted to be in the food truck business!  Not because we wanted it to be a stepping stone to something else.  There is something special about being in a different place everyday and the excitement people have in searching you out or happening upon you.  I love that, it will never get old.  I hope there are maybe a couple more Riffs trucks in a couple years, but right now one is all I can handle!

MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?

BJL: A lot of people look at food trucks and think it looks easy!  How hard can it be to serve food out of a truck?? The best suggestion I can give is to say, do your research!  Talk to food truck owners (if they can stop moving long enough).  This life is just as much about marketing as it is about food.  Just because someone said to you over a dinner you cooked that you should have a restaurant or food truck, doesn’t mean you should!  This is the hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do!

Riffs Fine Street Food

Twitter: @riffstruck

Winner of Nashville’s 2011 Battle of the Food Trucks and the Nashville Scene’s 2011 Best of Nashville Writer’s Choice for Best Food Truck!

http://www.riffstruck.com

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This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the owner of the Chicago based food truck, Haute Sausage.

rich levy

 

Name: Rich Levy

Age: 37 years young

Food truck name:  Haute Sausage

Location:  Chicago, IL

Year started in the mobile food industry:  2011

 

Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?

Rich Levy: Chicago is a sausage town by nature and there needed to be a sausage truck.  Someone had to do it it was almost like a public utility, so I simply used my sausage to fill the void.  I am glad the town has been so accommodating of my sausage.

MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?

RL: The list is long and distinguished, but probably my Mom – she taught me everything I know about catering and over catering.  She is a wonderfully improvisational cook.  I am not classically trained and neither is she, she just knows what will taste good and makes it happen.

Doug Sonnenshein from Hot Doug’s definitely deserves a shout out too.  The man is a legend.

MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?

RL: Grilled encased meats on fresh baked New England brioche bread.

MC: What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself and your food truck in 2 and 5 years?

RL: I think we want to get into the frozen foods section of the supermarkets and specialty foods stores.  I want to go into manufacturing and brand development.  I am also talking to a company about doing a brick and mortar version of the truck.

MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?

RL: Do it.  Start doing not talking!

 

Haute Sausage

Twitter: @hautesausage

Chicago’s Afro-Midwestern mobile sausage wagon. Thick • Meaty • Juicy

http://wefollow.com/hautesausage

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This week’s 5 on Friday we spoke with the owner of the New York City based food truck, Rickshaw Dumpling Truck.

david weber

Name: David Weber

Age: 34

Food truck name: Rickshaw Dumpling Truck

Website: Rickshawdumplings.com

Twitter: @davidwebernyc

Truck Twitter: @rickshawtruck

Location: NYC!

Year started in the mobile food industry: 2008

Mobile Cuisine: Why did you become a food truck owner, chef?

David Weber: My business partner, Kenny Lao, and I opened the Rickshaw Dumpling truck in 2008 mostly as an R&D vehicle to learn more about the Rickshaw brand and where our customers were located around NYC.  Since February 2005, when Rickshaw Dumpling Bar opened its first store in the Flatiron district in NYC, people have been writing in asking for a stores in Midtown or the Financial district or in Tribeca or the Upper West Side or in Brooklyn.  While it would take years to roll out stores for all these locations, one truck could make a circuit of all of those locations in a week!  A truck is consistent with the Rickshaw brand and mission in that dumplings were originally a street food inAsia. While branded, differentiated food trucks were still quite new in 2008, the Rickshaw Dumpling Truck was an instant success. We took what we learned on the truck to develop smaller, more efficient stores.  The success of the truck in Midtown lead to the opening of a Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in Midtown East and a Rickshaw kiosk inTimes Square.

MC: Who has been the most influential person in your culinary career?

DW: As a former consultant and an MBA, I had a deep grounding in the business side of hospitality, however, I’ve learned a lot about the culinary side of running a business on the job and my colleagues at Rickshaw have influenced me and inspired me most.  Chef Anita Lo of Annisa instilled in me a deep respect for ingredients.  Our advisor Michael Bonadies of Bonadies Hospitality (and formerly President of 12c Museum Hotels and founder of Myriad Restaurant Group) drove home the close connection restaurants need to have to the local community.  Finally, my business partner, Kenny Lao, taught me the importance of keeping the dining experience fun for our guests.

MC: What do you think sets your truck apart from your competitors?

DW: The great thing about hospitality is that it is a collaborative industry.  People drawn to hospitality are generally very engaged, and giving.  I tend to think of other restaurateurs as colleagues rather than competitors.  Hospitality professionals understand that customers have different preferences and that different concepts meet those needs and desires differently.  Some days people feel like a burger for lunch and sometimes they feel like having sushi.  As an industry, I think we’re all working to meet those various interests as best we can.

Rickshaw is unique in New York Cityin that it is the only fast casual concept to focus specifically on dumplings.  We cook with high quality, all natural ingredients, and we get healthy food out fast, which is something that our busy customers appreciate.

MC: What was the toughest part of researching for your newly released book: The Food Truck Handbook?

DW: The toughest part of the research was actually opening and running a food truck.  Running a food truck is hard!  Writing the book was easy.  Having been seeped in the mobile food industry for the past four years gave me most of the material I needed to write it.  One of the more challenging aspects of the research was getting a deeper understanding of the regulations in different cities around theUS.  I had a team of three very resourceful researchers help me with that.

MC: What one suggestion would you give to someone planning to open a food new truck?

DW: Buy the Food Truck Handbook!  I worked hard to write a pragmatic book that is useful, easy to read and can honestly guide you through the process of planning, starting, and succeeding in the mobile food industry.  The book will really help you avoid a number of common pitfalls and put you on the fast track towards running a profitable and scalable business.

If I had to choose one thing to focus your time on, I’d say the most important constraint on your operations will be local regulations.  Take the time and energy to personally get to know the local regulators at your department of health and have a thorough understanding of what is permissible and what is not.  Once you thoroughly know local regulations, take the time to fully plan out the operations of your truck from start to finish.  What is the menu?  Where will things get made?  Where will you park?  You’ll want to be as prepared as possible to create a business that not only reflects you and your passion, but is sustainable, and contributes to the local community.

If you are interested in a chance to win a copy of David’s new book, check out this link to find out how.

 

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