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Chef or Head Cook

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All About Chefs and Head Cooks

Career Description Direct and may participate in the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts.

Daily Life Of a Chef

  • Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
  • Recruit and hire staff, such as cooks and other kitchen workers.
  • Record production or operational data on specified forms.
  • Order or requisition food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
  • Collaborate with other personnel to plan and develop recipes or menus, taking into account such factors as seasonal availability of ingredients or the likely number of customers.
  • Prepare and cook foods of all types, either on a regular basis or for special guests or functions.

Things a Chef Should Know How to Do

These are the skills Chefs and Head Cooks say are the most useful in their careers:

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Management of Personnel Resources: Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

Time Management: Managing one’s own time and the time of others.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

  • Cook
  • Salad Chef
  • Bread and Pastry Baker
  • Banquet Chef
  • Head Baker

Chef Employment Estimates

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 146,500 jobs in the United States for Chef or Head Cook. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 9.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 14,100 new jobs for Chef or Head Cook by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 20,300 job openings in this field each year.

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The states with the most job growth for Chef are Utah, Arizona, and Washington. Watch out if you plan on working in West Virginia, Maine, or Vermont. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Chef Salary

Chefs and Head Cooks make between $26,320 and $81,150 a year.

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Chefs and Head Cooks who work in New Jersey, Hawaii, or District of Columbia, make the highest salaries.

How much do Chefs and Head Cooks make in different U.S. states?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $48,360
Alaska $51,990
Arizona $43,240
Arkansas $45,780
California $51,400
Colorado $50,980
Connecticut $58,830
Delaware $59,330
District of Columbia $65,780
Florida $52,350
Georgia $52,890
Hawaii $74,510
Idaho $38,590
Illinois $51,800
Indiana $49,450
Iowa $42,280
Kansas $40,510
Kentucky $50,930
Louisiana $45,730
Maine $52,200
Maryland $53,040
Massachusetts $56,330
Michigan $52,230
Minnesota $51,990
Mississippi $48,330
Missouri $54,300
Montana $48,290
Nebraska $44,180
Nevada $56,290
New Hampshire $53,610
New Jersey $70,260
New Mexico $50,220
New York $56,020
North Carolina $50,690
North Dakota $46,320
Ohio $41,070
Oklahoma $44,410
Oregon $46,790
Pennsylvania $57,630
South Carolina $40,820
South Dakota $48,280
Tennessee $47,750
Texas $53,170
Utah $43,590
Vermont $45,590
Virginia $54,760
Washington $57,680
West Virginia $54,500
Wisconsin $47,210
Wyoming $54,590

What Tools & Technology do Chefs and Head Cooks Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Chefs and Head Cooks may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Email software
  • Facebook
  • Delphi Technology
  • Internet browser software
  • Culinary Software Services ChefTec
  • Axxya Systems Nutritionist Pro
  • SoftCafe MenuPro
  • EGS CALCMENU
  • ADP eTIME
  • Menu planning software
  • ReServe Interactive
  • Sage MAS 90 ERP
  • GNOME Gnutrition
  • IPro Restaurant Inventory, Recipe & Menu Software
  • Barrington Software CookenPro Commercial
  • CostGuard

How do I Become a Chef?

Individuals working as a Chef or Head Cook have obtained the following education levels:

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What work experience do I need to become a Chef?

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Chefs and Head Cooks Sector

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The table below shows the approximate number of Chefs and Head Cooks employed by various industries.

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Similar Careers

Those who work as a Chef or Head Cook sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:

References:

Image Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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