What Is the Job Description of an Executive Chef?

Executive chefs oversee a restaurant's kitchen staff, handle administrative tasks, prepare meals, and plan menus. You need to have strong cooking skills, the ability to manage others, and the ability to create dishes that will keep customers satisfied. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Executive chefs, also called head cooks, manage the kitchen staff, and direct meal preparation. As an executive chef, you are held accountable for all food service operations. While other chefs usually handle the cooking of meals, you must ensure that the food produced in the kitchen is presented properly and is of uniform quality. In certain cases, you may prepare entrees and other dishes that require a high level of precision and skill.

Aside from overseeing the kitchen, it is your responsibility to decide serving sizes, plan the menu, and order supplies. In addition, you are responsible for filling job vacancies, taking an active role in employee development, and dealing with food vendors. An executive chef position often requires more administrative duties related to kitchen operations as opposed to cooking and meal preparation.

Important Facts About Executive Chefs

Required Education No formal education required
Professional Certification Available through American Culinary Federation
Work Environment Restaurants and other eateries, private households, amusement parks
Similar Occupations Bakers, cooks, food preparation workers, food service managers, food and beverage service

Skills Required

Many employers will want you to have a passion for food and to be highly skilled in cooking the type of food made in their kitchen. You may also need to have a lot of energy because it is common for executive chefs to work 12-hour days. Schedules are often irregular and include nights, weekends, and holidays. In addition to being an excellent cook, you also need to be a good communicator, delegator, and planner. You need to have exceptional organization skills and be able to work within a budget.

Education and Training

Executive chefs often have a formal culinary arts degree combined with on-the-job experience. A degree in culinary management can be earned at community colleges, technical schools, colleges, universities, or cooking schools. Programs typically teach you about food preparation and handling, basic culinary techniques, and kitchen business operations.

It is also common to be promoted within a company to an executive position after working as an assistant chef or cook. On-the-job training may be offered to help cooks develop the skills needed to become an executive chef.

Apprenticeships are another way to develop the skills needed for this job. In an apprenticeship, you learn as you work under the guidance of an executive chef. Formal classroom training is also included in an apprenticeship program.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the employment of chefs and head cooks is expected to grow 10 percent during the 2016-2026 decade. Although the public is expected to continue its demand for high-quality food and restaurants, changes in the industry and limitations to business budgets are forcing lower-level chefs and food service workers to do much of the labor once exclusive to head cooks and chefs.

The median annual salary earned by chefs and head cooks was reported as $48,460 in May 2018 by the BLS. The Bureau reported that such cooks and chefs working in restaurants earned an average of $48,740 annually in 2018. Individuals working in Hawaii, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia earned the most money in the nation, averaging more than $65,000 a year.

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