What Are the Typical Job Duties of a Chef?

Chefs cook meals, create menus, and oversee kitchen staff in restaurants. Read on to learn more about what is required of chefs in and out of the kitchen. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Chefs are in charge of planning menus and creating meals in restaurants and a variety of other settings. The typical job duties of chefs also depend on the specific kitchen and what kind of support team a chef has to work with. According to the College Board (www.collegeboard.com), sous, pastry, and cuisine chefs do the cooking, while executive chefs primarily plan menus and supervise the kitchen staff.

Important Facts About Chefs

On-the-Job TrainingInternships and apprenticeships offered
Work EnvironmentWork settings other than restaurants include cafeterias, hotels, private households
CertificationNot required, but can increase pay
Similar Occupations Baker, food service manager, food preparation worker

Duties and Responsibilities

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), chefs are in charge of measuring, mixing, and cooking ingredients according to recipes. A chef must know how to operate and use various equipment, including pans, pots, cutlery, ovens, grills, slicers, boilers, grinders, and blenders. While chefs are expected to have extensive knowledge in the culinary arts, many take on a managerial role in the kitchen. Chefs can oversee kitchen workers, order food supplies, estimate food requirements, and maintain quality assurance on various dishes. Chefs have the following additional duties:

  • Creating recipes and preparing meals
  • Hiring staff
  • Balancing a restaurant's books
  • Doing public relations
  • Planning menus
  • Filling orders
  • Catering to customers

Job Requirements

Chefs don't typically work in a '9-to-5' environment. Chefs often work late nights, holidays, and weekends. To keep up with the fast pace and intensity of working in a kitchen, chefs must have stamina and be able to think quickly on their feet. Plus, a chef must be aware of changing culinary trends. Creativity is also a plus, especially for chefs who create new recipes and innovative ways to prepare food. While a college degree isn't required in order to become a chef, the BLS reports that many individuals opt to attend cooking schools. Several prospective chefs are participating in culinary arts degree programs that take two or four years to complete, according to the BLS.

Employment and Salary

Job opportunities afforded to chefs are expected to grow by nine percent between 2014 and 2024, according to the BLS. The BLS additionally published the median annual salary earned by head cooks and chefs as $41,610 in May 2014. Chefs working in Washington DC, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, and Massachusetts earned the most money in 2014. Those working in the first three locations in that list made an average of over $55,000 annually, per the BLS.

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