How We Train the Employees Who Bring Our Menu To Life

You’ve visited us and enjoyed the Market Square view just outside our patio. You've eaten a delicious meal and loved it. And you've even sipped our selected whiskey barrels and cocktails and called our bar 'heaven.’

But did you know there's more than meets the eye? Behind-the-scenes, there's an intricate process that all of our back-of-the-house employees go through to create the best experience for you and your palette. There’s a lot that goes into making that experience consistent, upscale, and seamless. And it all starts with our employees. In such a constantly evolving industry - and in our buzzing Knoxville corner of the world - we understand the importance of consistent, thorough, and ongoing training for our kitchen staff. This way, you're in for an incredible experience every time you walk in.

It All Starts with the Hire

Creating the ultimate customer experience begins with our hiring process. We start with an initial interview where the applicant and our Executive Chef, Jon Gatlin, conduct a walk-through of the kitchen and discusses the basics of who we are, our history, and what we’re looking for in employees. If both parties are interested in moving onto the next step, we schedule a “work preview.” This is when the applicant agrees to come in for a few hours to complete related tasks from the job description as well as a competency questionnaire.


Things get serious during the work preview: applicants go through a battery of testing, including on knife cuts, recipe understanding and adherence, room/item placement recall, verbal communication, and restaurant jargon. The competency questionnaire tests the applicant on basic culinary education, like mother sauces and quantity measurements (how many cups in a quart, for example).

Through all of that testing, we’re evaluating a candidate on their organization, cleanliness, efficiency, attitude, and more. We love to bring on the best, and the process to find the cream of the crop can be extensive, especially during the hiring process.

Time to Train

After all of the evaluations are complete, we invite a possible candidate to schedule their initial training time in the kitchen. This is when they’ll receive the menu-specific information pack which includes information on ingredients, recipes, menu themes, and chef notes. They’ll also receive a build/prep sheet which lists every menu item they’ll be responsible for at their designated station. This document is important as it helps employees double-check their work and makes sure each dish is up to standard (and has all the appropriate ingredients).

Welcome to the Team

For one to three weeks, new employees train with a tenured team member. After the initial training, we test our candidates again using another extended competency test. Through this, we’ll point out where the new hire needs to improve and what they can focus on in the next few weeks.

From here on out, we expect our staff to constantly learn and evolve because that’s what our industry requires. We encourage their continued education by keeping track of their progress and providing ongoing educational opportunities - from daily conversations with senior staff to providing resources like documentaries and publications that can help our employees evolve their craft.

Through the whole process, one thing is consistent in all the bustle: we expect the best, and we train the best. Only through hiring the best staff do we provide the most enjoyable culinary experience for all of you!

To stay up to date on the unique Oliver Royale culinary experience, check out our Instagram and Facebook.