Head Chef/Cook Salary
The average Head Chef & Cook in the United States can expect to rake in roughly $12.49 per hour. Residence is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by tenure. Most workers in this position report high levels of job satisfaction. Unfortunately, some people in this line of work are without benefits — the greater part lack coverage. On the flip side, over a third have medical insurance and nearly one in four receive dental plans. The figures in this overview were provided by individuals who took PayScale's salary questionnaire.
|Salary||$20,142 - $58,335|
|Bonus||$80.54 - $14,899|
|Total Pay (|
XTotal Pay combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime pay and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable for this job. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).)
|$19,177 - $43,451|
|Hourly Rate||$8.92 - $17.23|
|Hourly Tips||$0.00 - $2.57|
|Overtime||$11.89 - $25.96|
|Bonus||$80.54 - $14,899|
|Total Pay (||$19,177 - $43,451|
Job Description for Head Chef/Cook
Head chefs/cooks are responsible for overseeing the quality of food as it leaves the kitchen. They must ensure that their kitchens meet the health standards set in place by governmental agencies. Additionally, they are responsible for making sure that other kitchen personnel follow food safety guidelines and meet hygiene standards. Head chefs/cooks must understand how kitchen equipment functions and ensure that it is operable and in safe working condition. Additionally, a head chef/cook often supervises the rest of the kitchen staff. Head chefs/cooks are typically responsible for ordering, inventorying, and keeping detailed records of food items and their costs. They must have experience creating menus that assist owners in attracting and maintaining clientele. They also may be responsible for setting menu prices.Read More...
Head chefs/cooks' work environments vary widely; some work in small kitchens with a small number of staff, while others may work in multi-kitchen operations supervising a large number of kitchen staff. This job is usually salaried and offers benefits. Compensation varies depending on restaurant style, location, and the head chef/cook's job experience. This job often requires chefs to work on weekends and/or holidays. Depending on the restaurant's hours, they may work either very early in the morning or very late into the evening.
To be a head chef/cook, individuals must have previous experience with ordering, preparing, and cooking food in a professional setting and with managing a kitchen. Head chefs/cooks often possess either a culinary education obtained at a specialty school or years of experience working in kitchens. These individuals must have a high energy level, as the job demands that they spent a lot of time on their feet. This job also requires strong communication skills and the ability to solve problems quickly in high-pressure situations.
Head Chef/Cook Tasks
- Manage kitchen operation including food purchases and preparation, record keeping, quality standards, and sanitation.
- Train employees in cooking methods, plate presentations, portions, and cost control.
Common Career Paths for Head Chef/Cook
Head Chefs & Cooks do not often transition into Hotel Executive Chef roles. The role averages $60K per year. Head Chefs & Cooks moving up in their careers tend to step into positions as Executive Chefs or Sous Chefs. The median paychecks in those roles are $26K higher and $8K higher, respectively.
Popular Skills for Head Chef/Cook
Survey results suggest that Head Chefs & Cooks put a wide range of professional skills to use. Most notably, skills in Inventory Management, Order Inventory, Menu Planning, and Team Leadership are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 4 percent and 15 percent. Those listing cooking as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Customer Service and Food Safety also typically command lower compensation. Most people familiar with Food Preparation also know Menu Planning.
Pay by Experience Level for Head Chef/Cook
Median of all compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime) by years of experience.
Experience and pay tend to be weakly linked for Head Chefs & Cooks — those with more experience do not necessarily bring in higher earnings. Relatively untried employees who have less than five years' experience make $24K, but folks with five to 10 years under their belts enjoy an appreciably larger median of $28K. People with 10 to 20 years of experience make an average of about $30K in this role. Head Chefs & Cooks with more than 20 years of experience report incomes that are only modestly higher; the median for these old hands hovers around $31K.
Pay Difference by Location
Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago — America's three largest cities — boast salaries well above the national rate for Head Chefs & Cooks. The lowest-paying market is San Diego, which sits 17 percent below the national average.
Related Job Salaries
Key Stats for Head Chef/Cook
Rated 4 out of 5
based on 132 votes.