Job description

Chefs oversee and may take part in the daily food preparation at restaurants, private homes, hotels and other food establishments. They check the freshness of food and cleanliness of the kitchen work areas. Chefs plan menus and develop recipes and dish presentation ideas. They also direct and monitor the activities of cooks and other food preparation staff.

Duties

    • Check the freshness, quality and quantity of food and ingredients received
    • Assure raw and cooked foods meet safety and quality standards
    • Develop recipes and creative ideas for food presentation
    • Analyse recipes for food, preparation and overhead costs for budgeting and menu pricing
    • Inspect equipment, supplies and work areas to assure compliance with cleanliness and other standards
    • Prepare and cook foods of all types for daily menus or special occasions as needed
    • Plan and supervise activities of cooks and other food preparation staff
    • Recruit and hire staff
    • Demonstrate cooking techniques and recipe instructions to cooks and other kitchen workers
    • Keep inventory and order necessary food, supplies and equipment
    • Collaborate with restaurant owners, individual clients and staff on developing recipes and menus
    • Maintain records of operations as required

Skills, qualities and knowledge

Recipe and menu software
Accounting software
Food production and safety
Service orientation
Dexterity
Creativity
Time management
Active listening
Critical thinking
Decision-making
Instruction
Attention to detail
Dependability
Initiative
Integrity
Teamwork
Leadership

Working hours and environment

Average working hours

40hweek

Typical schedule

Full Time

Nights, weekends, holidays occasionally

Chefs work in restaurants, private homes, corporate kitchens, hotels and other food service establishments. Those who are restaurant owners and self-employed catering chefs may also spend time in an office managing budgets, salaries and other operational duties.

Chefs typically work full time, with schedules that can include early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays. You may work more than 40 hours a week.

Kitchens are fast-paced and often stressful environments, and chefs spend a lot of time standing. Injuries like burns, cuts and falls are possible but usually minor. Wearing long sleeves and non-slip shoes can help minimise risk.

Salary

Bottom 10%

$26k

Median

$48k

Top 10%

$81k

Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High School

DVM / VMD degree

Study time

2years

Chef positions typically only require a high school diploma, though many candidates pursue some form of postsecondary education. Culinary schools, community colleges and technical schools typically offer associate's degrees, with four-year bachelor's degrees available from some institutions. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) accredits academic training programmes as well as offers apprenticeship opportunities.

Many chefs train on the job, starting as line cooks or other kitchen staff and working their way up. Particularly in upscale restaurants and hotels, it can take several years of experience before you will be promoted to a head chef position.

Certification is also possible and particularly useful for corporate and personal chefs. Also offered by the ACF, certification may require work experience of up to five years, depending upon the level of certificate.

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2018 to 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 5%.

11%

No of new jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2018 and 2028, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.

15.4k

Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.

10%

Career progression

A combination of quality work and experience will assist your progression from assistant roles like sous chef up to the head chef position. Certification also helps you stand out from other candidates when applying for more lucrative roles in larger and more prestigious kitchens.

Some chefs go on to own their own business, as a personal or corporate chef, catering service or restaurant owner. Coursework in business administration is helpful in achieving this goal.