January 8

How We Hire The Best Chef Teachers

Blog, Cooking, Featured

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chef wearing a mask chops veggies

By Eric Horwitz, CEO of LIFT Enrichment

A key ingredient for us to be able to teach over 5,700+ students a week at hundreds of sites is how we hire and screen the best Chef Teachers.

Service-based businesses are known to be easy to start but hard to scale. You can, in a short amount of time, hire people, purchase supplies, create curriculum and go forth into the marketplace. A lot of small businesses begin this way. However if you get a huge swarm of new clients, it can be very hard to service all of them effectively.

Meanwhile, a products-based business is difficult to start but easy to scale. You often have to take out a loan, get an office space, purchase expensive equipment, build processes, hire staff to manage it all and constantly worry about shipping, inventory and supplies. However, once the engine is going, you can ramp up production to fulfill demand.

For LIFT Enrichment, the most important thing we do is develop our operations, recruiting and onboarding teams to find the best instructors for our clients.

Currently we’re at 90 Chef Teachers! We’re pretty good at this, and next year we’ll be at 100+.

This post goes over how we hire our instructors, and in a future post I’ll go over how we train and support them.

Part 1 The Job Posting

We use Indeed.com to find our Chef Teachers in California and Texas for our school district clients.

A key element is that the job posting has to sell the position. We want to find someone who:

  • Has teaching experience, and ideally with young kids. This could be someone who worked as a camp counselor, teacher assistant, aspiring teacher, etc.
  • Loves cooking: This type of person is someone who on the weekend would rather make pasta or salmon or a steak at home rather than go out, just so they can develop their culinary skills and learn new techniques.
  • Wants a Part-time Job. We screen for people who are available in the afternoons and aren’t looking for full-time work…because those people will work for us for a few weeks or months and quit once they find what they really need.
  • Likes to put on a show. Working with kids requires a performance, love for teaching and leading a group experience. If you’re timid, shy or not comfortable in front of a group, this job isn’t for you.

Our Job posting is like a piece of marketing to get that type of person excited to work with us.

We know there is a lot of competition for people who are great at working with kids. They could teach anything from dance to science to art or cooking to children.

Part 2: We Have Prospects Make The First Move

After reviewing someone’s application, we give them a link to calendly.com so they can schedule a 15-minute phone interview with one of our Recruiters. Calendly.com is a great tool for booking meetings, and allows the other person to pick a time and date that works within the parameters of each person’s schedule.

Then it’s their job to show up on time and ready for the first interview.

Part 3: The First Interview

When the call is scheduled, our Recruiter calls the applicant and if they don’t show up, or are late, we don’t move forward.

On this call we are looking for ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM. You know instinctively when you talk to someone who would be great in front of a group of kids.

We also make sure they have no-criminal background and can work with schools.

Then we make sure their scheduling works out.

We go through their resume, and ask about why they like to cook and want to work with kids.

If they are good that leads them to

Part 4: The Zoom Interview

On this Zoom interview, the applicant has to present a dish that they made previously to our Recruiter live and on camera. They can talk about how they made the dish, why they chose it and any cool facts. It’s basically a short mock-cooking class.

It’s a chance for us to see their personality, and get a feel for how they’d be in the classroom.

Many years ago, this part of the interview was in person at my co-working space in Culver City. I’d get to lead the interview…and try the food! Chefs would walk in the door, meet for 20 minutes and present something tasty like Jamaican-style jerk chicken with Hawaiian mac and cheese.

I’ve had very good food…and some terrible food like someone who brought a vegan lasagna where the vegan cheese tasted like chalk. Another time someone made a salad where the dressing was made of greek yogurt and it was so tart and tangy I could barely stomach one bite!

If they pass the Zoom interview (which is always done by a person who wasn’t the original Recruiter…after all we have 3 Recruiters!) they get…

Part 5: Hired

Next they get an email inviting them to join LIFT Enrichment. They now have 24 hours to send us back a signed contract, their W2 and a few more documents to proceed. If they wait too long, it’s not a good fit and we move on.

This system has worked for us and keeps getting better. A key part is that it’s two different interviews done by two people, so we can detect who would be a good fit for us if they’re working anywhere from Oakland to Palm Springs to Modesto.

In a future newsletter we’ll go over the second key part of the process: Onboarding the Chef Teachers, helping them learn how to teach our classes and our ongoing support

If you are a Title-1 school district in California or Texas, let’s go over with our team how we can bring our healthy culinary workshops to you! Book a meeting with our team here.


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Eric Horwitz

About LIFT

Eric founded LIFT Enrichment in 2010 because he wanted to help young kids develop their culinary skills so they could make healthy foods for friends and family for the rest of their lives.  He has worked with kids for over 15 years and enjoys their energy and enthusiasm for learning new things.  Eric studied abroad in Italy while at UCLA and discovered a passion for cooking.  

Eric Horwitz, Ceo of Lift

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