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Become A Prep Chef

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Working As A Prep Chef

  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Thinking Creatively
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Coaching and Developing Others
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $40,248

    Average Salary

What Does A Prep 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.

Duties

Chefs and head cooks typically do the following:

  • Check the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Develop recipes and determine how to present dishes
  • Plan menus and ensure the quality of meals
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas for cleanliness and functionality
  • Hire, train, and supervise cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Order and maintain an inventory of food and supplies
  • Monitor sanitation practices and follow kitchen safety standards

Chefs and head cooks use a variety of kitchen and cooking equipment, including step-in coolers, high-quality knives, meat slicers, and grinders. They also have access to large quantities of meats, spices, and produce. Some chefs use scheduling and purchasing software to help them in their administrative tasks.

Chefs who run their own restaurant or catering business are often busy with kitchen and office work. Some chefs use social media to promote their business by advertising new menu items or addressing customer reviews.

The following are examples of types of chefs and head cooks:

Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine are responsible primarily for overseeing the operation of a kitchen. They coordinate the work of sous chefs and other cooks, who prepare most of the meals. Executive chefs also have many duties beyond the kitchen. They design the menu, review food and beverage purchases, and often train cooks and other food preparation workers. Some executive chefs primarily handle administrative tasks and may spend less time in the kitchen.

Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They supervise the restaurant’s cooks, prepare meals, and report results to the head chefs. In the absence of the head chef, sous chefs run the kitchen.

Private household chefs typically work full time for one client, such as a corporate executive, university president, or diplomat, who regularly entertains as part of his or her official duties.

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How To Become A Prep 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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Prep Chef Jobs

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Prep Chef Career Paths

Prep Chef
Line Chef Head Chef Executive Chef
Assistant Food Service Director
5 Yearsyrs
Kitchen Manager Restaurant Manager
Beverage Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Executive Chef Food Service Director
Certified Dietary Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Executive Chef Director Of Food And Beverage
Clubhouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Line Chef Sous Chef Executive Chef
Culinary Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Kitchen Manager Food And Beverage Manager Catering Manager
Director Of Catering
7 Yearsyrs
Chef Head Chef Executive Chef
Director Of Food And Beverage
9 Yearsyrs
Line Cook, Prep Cook Chef Food Service Director
Director Of Food And Nutrition Services
9 Yearsyrs
Grill Cook Kitchen Manager
FOH Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Chef/Kitchen Manager Chef Manager Food Service Manager
Food Production Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Grill Cook Chef Food Service Director
Food Safety Director
9 Yearsyrs
Chef Executive Chef
Food Service Director
9 Yearsyrs
Line Cook, Prep Cook Sous Chef Executive Chef
Food Service Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Self-Employed Food Service Worker
Food Service Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Chef/Kitchen Manager Food And Beverage Manager
Hospitality Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Sous Chef General Manager
Multi-Unit Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Head Chef General Manager Food Service Director
Nutrition Director
7 Yearsyrs
Head Chef Food Service Director Clinical Dietitian
Nutrition Services Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Equipment Operator Service Supervisor
Patient Services Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Sous Chef Executive Chef General Manager
Restaurant General Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Prep Chef?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Executive Chef 5.6 years
Head Chef 3.0 years
Cooking Chef 3.0 years
Chef/Catering 3.0 years
Sous Chef 2.9 years
Banquet Chef 2.7 years
Chef 2.5 years
Sushi Chef 2.4 years
Assistant Chef 2.2 years
Kitchen Chef 2.0 years
Prep Chef 2.0 years
Line Chef 1.9 years
Pantry Chef 1.6 years
Pizza Chef 1.5 years
Top Employers Before
Cashier 9.4%
Chef 8.4%
Line Cook 7.8%
Cook 7.5%
Server 5.7%
Manager 5.5%
Prep Cook 5.1%
Sous Chef 4.9%
Internship 4.8%
Waitress 3.3%
Volunteer 2.8%
Top Employers After
Chef 12.8%
Line Cook 8.6%
Cook 8.6%
Cashier 6.8%
Sous Chef 6.4%
Internship 6.2%
Server 5.0%
Manager 4.6%
Prep Cook 3.9%
Supervisor 2.4%
Line Chef 2.4%
Barista 1.9%

Do you work as a Prep Chef?

Prep Chef Demographics

Gender

Male

63.6%

Female

34.9%

Unknown

1.5%
Ethnicity

White

63.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.2%

Black or African American

10.2%

Asian

6.6%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.4%

Italian

15.5%

French

8.3%

Chinese

6.0%

German

4.8%

Mandarin

3.6%

Japanese

2.4%

Greek

2.4%

Portuguese

1.2%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Hungarian

1.2%

Hebrew

1.2%

Albanian

1.2%

Mongolian

1.2%

Cantonese

1.2%

Korean

1.2%

Dutch

1.2%
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Prep Chef Education

Schools

Johnson & Wales University

22.1%

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts

8.7%

Culinary Institute of America

5.8%

University of Rhode Island

4.8%

University of Massachusetts Amherst

4.8%

University of Phoenix

4.8%

Valencia College

3.8%

Saint Louis Community College

3.8%

West Virginia University

3.8%

Kent State University

3.8%

College of DuPage

3.8%

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts

3.8%

Anne Arundel Community College

3.8%

Wake Technical Community College

3.8%

Boston University

3.8%

Clark College

2.9%

Edison State Community College

2.9%

University of Tennessee - Knoxville

2.9%

Art Institute of Washington

2.9%

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

2.9%
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Majors

Culinary Arts

27.1%

Business

14.1%

Hospitality Management

6.9%

General Studies

5.3%

Graphic Design

5.1%

Criminal Justice

4.6%

Psychology

4.0%

Management

3.4%

Liberal Arts

3.2%

Communication

3.2%

Food And Nutrition

3.0%

Education

2.6%

Health Care Administration

2.6%

Political Science

2.4%

Computer Science

2.2%

English

2.2%

Finance

2.2%

Marketing

2.2%

Biology

2.0%

Engineering

2.0%
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Degrees

Other

37.5%

Bachelors

31.1%

Associate

18.7%

Certificate

7.8%

Diploma

2.3%

Masters

2.2%

License

0.2%

Doctorate

0.1%
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How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Prep Chef?

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Top Skills for A Prep Chef

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  1. Kitchen Equipment
  2. Dishes
  3. Customer Service
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Included heavy operation of kitchen equipment.
  • Help the kitchen staff and chef prepare fresh dishes for customers, as well as bust tables and clean dishes.
  • Provide quality customer service to individuals starting a healthy lifestyle.
  • Store food in designated containers and storage areas Execute all sanitation, health and safety standards in the workplace.
  • Prepared hot and cold food items.

How Would You Rate Working As a Prep Chef?

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Top Prep Chef Employers

Jobs From Top Prep Chef Employers

Prep Chef Videos

White House Chef - Career Spotlight

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