Head Chef/Cook Salary
For Head Chefs & Cooks, hourly average wages total $12.32 per hour. Residence is the biggest factor affecting pay for this group, followed by career duration. Although more than half lack health benefits of any kind, over a third do enjoy medical insurance, and one in four get dental coverage, too. Job satisfaction is high and work is enjoyable for most Head Chefs & Cooks. This overview is based on answers to PayScale's salary questionnaire.
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
- Train employees in cooking methods, plate presentations, portions, and cost control.
- Manage kitchen operation including food purchases and preparation, record keeping, quality standards, and sanitation.
Common Career Paths for Head Chef/Cook
It's not very common for Head Chefs & Cooks to move on to become Hotel Executive Chefs. Average pay for a Hotel Executive Chef is $60K annually. The most common next step for a Head Chef & Cook is to become an Executive Chef or a Sous Chef. The former position pays an additional $26K per year on average, and the latter position pays $8K more per year.
Head Chef Job Listings
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Popular Skills for Head Chef/Cook
Survey results imply that Head Chefs & Cooks put a diverse skill set to use. Most notably, skills in Inventory Management, Team Leadership, Menu Planning, and Order Inventory are correlated to pay that is above average, with boosts between 5 percent and 15 percent. Those listing cooking as a skill should be prepared for drastically lower pay. Customer Service and Training also typically command lower compensation. Those educated in Food Preparation tend to be well versed in 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. Those in the early stages of their career can expect to make around $24K; however, individuals with five to 10 years of experience bring in $28K on average — a distinctly larger sum. On average, Head Chefs & Cooks make $30K following one to two decades on the job. Individuals who report more than two decades of experience seem to make only slightly more than folks in the 10-to-20 year range; the more senior group sees median earnings in the comparatively modest ballpark of $31K.
Pay Difference by Location
Professionals in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York — the three largest American cities — enjoy a comfortable lifestyle with compensation above the national average. Those in the field find the lowest salaries in Cleveland, 17 percent below the national average. Houston and Atlanta are a couple other places where companies are known to pay below the median — salaries are 12 percent lower and 2 percent lower, respectively.