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  1. Chef Frank Powell Pd. 5 5/24/13

  2. What They Do • Chefs and head cooks typically do the following: • Check freshness of food and ingredients • Supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and other food preparation workers • Develop recipes and determine how to present the food • Plan menus and ensure uniform serving sizes and 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 inventory of food and supplies needed to ensure efficient operations • Monitor sanitation practices and ensure that kitchen safety standards are followed • Chefs 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 duties.

  3. Work Environment • Chefs work in restaurants, hotels, private households, and other food service facilities, all of which must be kept clean and sanitary. Kitchens are usually hot, crowded, and filled with potential dangers. Hazards may include slips, falls, cuts, and burns, but these injuries are seldom serious. Chefs and head cooks usually must stand for long periods of time and work in a fast-paced environment. • Most chefs and head cooks work full time, including early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and holidays. Many executive chefs regularly work 12-hour days because they oversee the delivery of food supplies early in the day and use the afternoon to plan the menu and prepare any special items for dishes.

  4. How To Become One • A growing number of chefs and head cooks receive formal training at community colleges, technical schools, culinary arts schools, and 2-year or 4-year institutions. Students in culinary programs spend most of their time in kitchens practicing their cooking skills. These programs cover all aspects of kitchen work, including menu planning, food sanitation procedures, and purchasing and inventory methods. Most formal training programs also require students to get experience in a commercial kitchen through an internship, apprenticeship, or out-placement program. • Some chefs and head cooks train in mentorship programs, where they work under the direction of experienced chefs. Executive chefs, head cooks, and sous chefs who work in fine-dining restaurants have many years of training and experience. • Some chefs receive formal training through the armed forces or from individual hotel or restaurant chains. • Although not required, certification can show competence and lead to advancement and higher paying positions. The American Culinary Federation certifies pastry professionals, personal chefs, and culinary educators in addition to various levels of chefs. Certification standards are based primarily on work-related experience and formal training. The minimum work experience for certification can range from 6 months to 5 years, depending on the level of certification.

  5. What Qualities Do You Need To Have • Business skills. Executive chefs must understand the business of restaurant work. They should be skilled at administrative tasks, such as accounting and personnel management, and be able to manage a restaurant efficiently and profitably. • Creativity. Chefs and head cooks need creativity to develop and prepare interesting and innovative recipes. They must be able to use different ingredients and create appealing dishes for their customers. • Leadership skills. Chefs and head cooks must have the ability to motivate kitchen staff and develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with them. Because the pace in the kitchen can be hectic during peak dining hours, chefs must be able to communicate their orders clearly and effectively. • Manual dexterity. All chefs and head cooks need excellent manual dexterity, including proper knife techniques for cutting, chopping, and dicing. • Sense of taste and smell. All chefs and head cooks must have a keen sense of taste and smell in order to inspect food and design meals that will be to customers’ liking. • Time-management skills. Chefs and head cooks need to be able to efficiently manage their time and the time of kitchen staff. They must have menus ready when kitchen staff start preparing meals. And when customers are waiting for food, they must keep the kitchen running efficiently.

  6. Pay • The median annual wage of chefs and head cooks was $40,630 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,260, and the top 10 percent earned more than $70,960. • The median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of chefs and head cooks in 2010 were as follows: • Traveler accommodation, including hotels and motels $47,350 • Other amusement and recreation industries 47,340 • Special food services 42,380 • Full-service restaurants 38,520 • Limited-service eating places 27,840 • The level of pay for chefs and head cooks varies greatly by region and employer. Pay is usually highest in upscale restaurants and hotels, where many executive chefs are employed, as well as in major metropolitan and resort areas.

  7. Job Outlook • Employment of chefs and head cooks is projected to experience little or no change from 2010 to 2020. Population and income growth is expected to result in greater demand for more high-quality dishes at a variety of dining venues, including many up-scale establishments. However, employment growth will be tempered as many restaurants, in an effort to lower costs, use lower-level cooks to perform the work normally done by chefs and head cooks.

  8. Similar Occupations • Bakers • Cooks • Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers • Food Preparation Workers • Food Service Managers

  9. Who To Contact For More Information • For career information about chefs, including a directory of 2-year and 4-year colleges that offer courses or training programs, visit • National Restaurant Association • American Culinary Federation • For information about becoming a personal or private chef, visit • American Personal & Private Chefs Association