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What is a Chef

MMM, do you smell that? Working as a chef comes with some good-smelling perks, especially if you're good at what you do. Chefs are in charge of preparing food for establishments where food is served, typically restaurants.

The schedule of a chef varies widely depending on where you're cooking. Sometimes they work early mornings, late evenings, weekends and even holidays. Yes, people still want to eat your delicious food on Christmas

What Does a Chef Do

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

Learn more about what a Chef does

How To Become a Chef

Most chefs and head cooks learn their skills through work experience. Others receive training at a community college, technical school, culinary arts school, or 4-year college. A small number learn through apprenticeship programs or in the Armed Forces.

Education

Although postsecondary education is not required for chefs and head cooks, many attend programs at community colleges, technical schools, culinary arts schools, and 4-year colleges. Candidates are typically required to have a high school diploma or equivalent to enter these programs.

Students in culinary programs spend most of their time in kitchens, practicing their cooking skills. Programs cover all aspects of kitchen work, including menu planning, food sanitation procedures, and purchasing and inventory methods. Most training programs also require students to gain experience in a commercial kitchen through an internship or apprenticeship program.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Most chefs and head cooks start working in other positions, such as line cooks, learning cooking skills from the chefs they work for. Many spend years working in kitchens before gaining enough experience to be promoted to chef or head cook positions.

Training

Some chefs and head cooks train on the job, where they learn the same skills as in a formal education program. Some train in mentorship programs, where they work under the direction of an experienced chef. Executive chefs, head cooks, and sous chefs who work in upscale restaurants often have many years of training and experience.

Some chefs and head cooks learn through apprenticeship programs sponsored by professional culinary institutes, industry associations, or trade unions in coordination with the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprenticeship programs generally last 2 years and combine instructions and on-the-job training. Apprentices must complete at least 1,000 hours of both instructions and paid on-the-job training. Courses typically cover food sanitation and safety, basic knife skills, and equipment operation. Apprentices spend the rest of their training learning practical skills in a commercial kitchen under a chef's supervision.

The American Culinary Federation accredits more than 200 academic training programs at postsecondary schools and sponsors apprenticeships around the country. The basic qualifications required for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 17
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Passing grade in substance abuse screening

Some chefs and head cooks receive formal training in the Armed Forces or from individual hotel or restaurant chains.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, certification can show competence and lead to advancement and higher pay. The American Culinary Federation certifies personal chefs, in addition to various levels of chefs, such as certified sous chefs or certified executive chefs. Certification standards are based primarily on work-related experience and formal training. Minimum work experience for certification can range from 6 months to 5 years, depending on the level of certification.

Important Qualities

Business skills. Executive chefs and chefs who run their own restaurant need to understand the restaurant business. They should know how to budget for supplies, set prices, and manage workers so that the restaurant is profitable.

Communication skills. Chefs must communicate their instructions clearly and effectively to staff so that customers’ orders are prepared correctly.

Creativity. Chefs and head cooks need to be creative in order to develop and prepare interesting and innovative recipes. They should be able to use various ingredients to create appealing meals for their customers.

Dexterity. Chefs and head cooks need excellent manual dexterity, including proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing.

Leadership skills. Chefs and head cooks must have the ability to motivate kitchen staff and develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with them.

Physical stamina. Chefs and head cooks often work long shifts and sometimes spend entire evenings on their feet, overseeing the preparation and serving of meals.

Sense of taste and smell. Chefs and head cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell in order to inspect food quality and to design meals that their customers enjoy.

Time-management skills. Chefs and head cooks must efficiently manage their time and the time of their staff. They ensure that meals are prepared correctly and that customers are served on time, especially during busy hours.

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And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. The Walt Disney Company Jobs (53)
  2. Darden Restaurants Jobs (96)
  3. Whole Foods Market Jobs (96)
  4. Sodexo Operations Jobs (157)
  5. Aramark Jobs (216)
Average Salary
$47,396
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
11%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
53,047
Job Openings
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Chef Career Paths

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Average Salary for a Chef

Chefs in America make an average salary of $47,396 per year or $23 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $69,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $32,000 per year.
Average Salary
$47,396
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12 Chef Resume Examples

Learn How To Write a Chef Resume

At Zippia, we went through countless Chef resumes and compiled some information about how to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

View Chef Resume Examples And Templates

And if you’re looking for a job, here are the five top employers hiring now:

  1. The Walt Disney Company Jobs (53)
  2. Darden Restaurants Jobs (96)
  3. Whole Foods Market Jobs (96)
  4. Sodexo Operations Jobs (157)
  5. Aramark Jobs (216)

Choose From 10+ Customizable Chef Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Chef templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Chef resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume
Chef Resume

Chef Demographics

Chef Gender Distribution

Male
Male
75%
Female
Female
25%

After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among Chefs, 25.2% of them are women, while 74.8% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among Chefs is White, which makes up 59.4% of all Chefs.

  • The most common foreign language among Chefs is Spanish at 48.5%.

Job Openings

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Chef Education

Chef Majors

12.0 %

Chef Degrees

Associate

37.6 %

Bachelors

26.9 %

High School Diploma

21.5 %

Top Colleges for Chefs

1. Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,244
Enrollment
15,557

2. University of Cincinnati

Cincinnati, OH • Private

In-State Tuition
$11,000
Enrollment
25,973

3. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

4. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition
$10,610
Enrollment
40,329

5. Boston University

Boston, MA • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,948
Enrollment
17,238

6. Southwest Minnesota State University

Marshall, MN • Private

In-State Tuition
$8,612
Enrollment
2,022

7. Inter American University of Puerto Rico Ponce

Mercedita, PR • Private

In-State Tuition
$5,914
Enrollment
4,155
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Online Courses For Chef That You May Like

Chef Fundamentals: A Recipe for Automating Infrastructure
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The Chef-Certified beginners guide to developing cookbooks locally and distributing changes with a Chef Server...

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Master Customer Service using this practical customer care course...

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Learn to automate without scripting using Chef with integrated hands-on labs right in your browser...

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Top Skills For a Chef

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 13.4% of Chefs listed Customer Service on their resume, but soft skills such as Business skills and Communication skills are important as well.

  • Customer Service, 13.4%
  • Kitchen Equipment, 10.8%
  • Food Service, 7.6%
  • Menu Items, 6.8%
  • High Quality, 5.8%
  • Other Skills, 55.6%

Best States For a Chef

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a Chef. The best states for people in this position are New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Washington. Chefs make the most in New Jersey with an average salary of $64,031. Whereas in Hawaii and Massachusetts, they would average $63,481 and $56,920, respectively. While Chefs would only make an average of $54,507 in Washington, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. New Jersey

Total Chef Jobs:
402
Highest 10% Earn:
$92,000
Location Quotient:
0.71
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

2. Michigan

Total Chef Jobs:
536
Highest 10% Earn:
$72,000
Location Quotient:
0.97
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here

3. Pennsylvania

Total Chef Jobs:
723
Highest 10% Earn:
$76,000
Location Quotient:
0.87
Location Quotient is a measure used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to determine how concentrated a certain industry is in a single state compared to the nation as a whole. You can read more about how BLS calculates location quotients here
Full List Of Best States For Chefs

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Chef Videos

Becoming a Chef FAQs

How long does it take to become a Chef?

It takes 4 years of professional experience to become a chef. That is the time it takes to learn specific chef skills, but does not account for time spent in formal education. If you include the normal education requirements to complete a college degree, then it takes 7 to 9 years years to become a chef.

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