What Is a Salad Chef?

Explore the career requirements for salad chefs. Get the facts about education, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Salad Chef Do?

Salad or pantry chefs are usually responsible for the preparation of salads and other cold appetizers in restaurants. They oversee lower-level cooks who also work on cold foods, and they make sure that all ingredients are fresh, all equipment is working and that the final product is presented in an appealing way. In addition, salad chefs are responsible for developing and testing new recipes for the restaurant's salad menu.

Read the chart below to find out more about this versatile position.

Degree Required Some advanced positions may require a bachelor's or associate's degree
Training Required On-the-job training
Job Growth (2012-24) 9% for chefs and head cooks*
Average Salary (2014) $45,920 for chefs and head cooks*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Salad Chef?

A salad chef is also called pantry chef, and salad chefs often work in an area of a restaurant known as a garde manger. It is in the garde manger where cold dishes, including salads, are prepared and kept. Your job could be very different depending on what kind of restaurant you work in. In casual restaurants, your job may be to prepare basic salads. In upscale restaurants, your job may be more like a sous chef, which could require substantial experience and often involves intensive preparation work.

The general responsibility of a salad chef is to stock and prepare cold foods in a restaurant. In addition to salads, this could include meat trays, vegetable platters and cheese arrangements. You could also be responsible for preparing cold soups, fresh fruit, dips, relishes and butters. In some situations, you might also prepare garnishes, ice sculptures and leftovers.

What Education and Skills Do I Need?

Some salad chef positions are entry-level, while others are more advanced; this often depends on the reputation and the volume of the restaurant. For entry-level positions, you may not need any education beyond a high school diploma. For advanced positions, you might need a culinary degree that includes garde manger courses or a specialized culinary certificate in garde manger. Culinary degrees are available at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.

Garde manger courses might also train you in hors d'oeuvres, canapés, smoking, pâtés and aspic work. You could also learn how to make butter sculptures, timbales, mousses and tallow sculptures. Other essential training could teach you to fill in at other food stations, take inventory, work on culinary teams, maintain sanitation and train other food workers. You might learn food theory or participate in hands-on training, which takes place in a kitchen.

How Much Money Will I Make?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average pay for chefs and head cooks was $45,920, as of 2015. Positions in more upscale restaurants or professional garde manger positions, especially those that require you to have specialties, may pay more.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a salad chef, you may want to think about becoming an executive chef or a sous chef. The executive chef holds the top position in the restaurant's kitchen, overseeing and contributing to the preparation of all menu items, including appetizers, main dishes, desserts and beverages. The sous chef is the second-in-command. Another job option within the food service industry is a position as a baker. Although no formal training is required for this job, bakers can hone their skills by completing a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree program in culinary arts or baking/pastry arts.

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