Applejack Hospitality

“He interviewed me in depth about who we are and who we were looking for. I really appreciate the effort he went to, to understand what we were after. Geremy found us a dream placement who fits perfectly with our culture.”

5 venues, a skills and enthusiasm shortage and the desperate quest for a ‘secret weapon’

As Director of Applejack Hospitality, Hamish Watts spends a good deal of his time juggling multiple balls and keeping them in the air. The analogy is deliberately a fun, dynamic one because at its core, Applejack is a youthful brand (think 30-somethings) with energy, joie de vivre and tons of forward-mindedness. So when it comes to recruiting the kinds of chefs needed to dish up the funky food this demanding sector seeks and follows, an equally unique recruitment agency is called for.

Trying to find the right players in a narrow market

With five individual venues to staff, Hamish has turned to various hospitality recruitment agencies as well as LinkedIn and SEEK, for lower level positions but has found innovative, excited chefs are thinner on the ground in Sydney.

“It’s currently a pretty tough market. There’s a definite skills shortage and I’m finding that chefs are no longer going through traditional methods of applying for positions themselves.”

“They now seem to put themselves out to market and canvas a larger field of potential employers.”

That being Hamish’s experience, he knew he had to procure some kind of “secret weapon”.

“We were trying to find a new Executive Chef for one of our properties and my business partner engaged some other recruiters he’d previously used, while I was on annual leave. It was obvious there were plenty of hotel-type chefs around, who’d come through more traditional channels where they’d write menus and have staff do the cooking. We wanted someone more hands-on, who could mentor and lead, to deliver a better product,” Hamish explains. “Someone youthful enough to fit with the company culture and flexible enough to mould with it. They had to be passionate, and we kept coming across the tired and jaded type. I got on the phone to Geremy and he immediately set up an appointment … to interview me!”

Recruiter interviews employer

The recruiter/employer interview process took Hamish by surprise.

“I was caught a little off guard, to be honest. I’d never been through that with a recruiter before.”

“He interviewed me in depth about who we are and who we were looking for. I really appreciate the effort he went to, to understand what we were after. Geremy found us a dream placement who fits perfectly with our culture.”

Knowing who wouldn’t be right is as important as knowing who would be

Other placements have been just as successful. “We needed a Head Chef for The Butler. A bunch of candidates came through that interested me but Geremy actually talked me out of them. He’d identified character traits that didn’t align with our business and taken the time to understand us and every candidate. He knew precisely who wouldn’t be suitable, as much as who would be.”

“That’s what sold me on Geremy.
He cares deeply about the end result.”

“And he diligently follows up, months after the placement to ensure everything is as it should be. I wasn’t even aware it was part of the service. Geremy is the real deal.”

The agency for upper level placements

Applejack Hospitality continues to engage other methods and agencies for lower end roles, however Hamish insists that Placed Recruitment is the only agency he would use for medium to upper level placements. “Absolutely; they’re my go-to agency for those,” he says. “But don’t tell too many people,” he grins. “They’re our trade secret.”

“The sheer number of warm leads – passive candidates – that Geremy has access to, along with his long-term relationships with great chefs who are quietly on the radar, is astonishing.”

“I was blown away by the quality of the high end Executive Chefs that came through on the campaign we did with Placed. To be honest, I was certain the person we were looking for simply didn’t exist. Now I know just to call Placed and get the process started.”

About Applejack Hospitality

A fun, dynamic brand, Applejack Hospitality serves up cutting-edge food and beverages, along with a super cool vibe, across five Sydney venues. “We offer some of the most fun and unique dining experiences Sydney has to offer,” Hamish says. “Everything is of exceptional quality, in a fresh and exciting environment.”

The organisation’s customer base features increasingly loyal followers in their 30s.

Applejack caters to different moods, occasions and desires. The new kid on the block is the quirky environment of the hidden away, good-times Della Hyde vintage cocktail bar and kitchen with its pronounced focus on seasonal cocktails. For light ‘n’ breezy get-togethers, it has to be the casual, brightly lit freshness of The Butler. Share plates and glam cocktails reign supreme at The Botanist, a lively, yesteryear-style tribute to early twentieth-century botanist, Gerard Fothergill. Bondi Hardware is about as far removed from a Bunnings Warehouse as could be and nails (pun intended) the quirky décor without a hint of kitsch. Its exposed brick interior and tool displays form an intriguing backdrop to an innovative menu, featuring some dazzling inclusions. SoCal is the Sydney incarnation of a Californian surf trip during which Hamish and business partner, Ben Carroll ate and drank their way around the state.