Chefs and head Chefs 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
Average Hours/Working Schedule
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.
Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine are primarily responsible 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 employees. Some executive chefs are primarily occupied by administrative tasks and spend little time in the kitchen.
Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They supervise the restaurant’s cooks, do some meal preparation tasks, and report results to the head chefs. In the absence of the head chef, sous chefs run the kitchen.
Personal chefs plan and prepare meals in private homes. They also may order groceries and supplies, serve meals, and wash dishes and utensils. Personal chefs are often self-employed or employed by a private cooking company, preparing food for a variety of customers.
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.
Salary/Wage Potential (What is the average 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.