Chefs and head chefs are highly sought-after professionals in the food service industry. They are responsible for overseeing the preparation and service of meals, ensuring efficient operations, and training and developing other kitchen staff. Chefs and head chefs can be found working in restaurants, private homes, hotels, casinos, or other food service locations. To become a chef or head chef, you generally need a high school diploma and work experience.
Many employers now accept candidates from community colleges, culinary arts schools, or technical schools. Alternatively, you can still be called a chef without a formal education, but you would have years of experience in the restaurant industry. Chefs and head chefs tend to work full time and often have to work early in the morning, late at night, on weekends and holidays. The work can be frantic and fast-paced, so chefs must be able to juggle numerous orders at once while still preparing delicious food for each customer.
All cooking and food preparation areas must also be kept clean and hygienic. Salaries for chefs and head chefs tend to be higher in restaurants and luxury hotels, where many executive chefs work, as well as in major metropolitan and tourist areas. Chefs who work in fine-dining restaurants, as well as head chefs and sub-chefs, usually arrive at work before the restaurant opens and leave work long after it closes at night. A chef or head chef is responsible for planning the menu, maintaining the budget, setting the prices of the menu items, preparing the food, buying supplies, ensuring the quality of the service, ensuring safety and managing the staff.
To ensure high-quality dishes, these establishments hire experienced chefs to oversee food preparation. Executive chefs and chefs who run their own restaurant need to know how to budget supplies, set prices and manage workers to make the restaurant profitable. Trainees devote the rest of their training to learning practical skills in a commercial kitchen under the supervision of a chef.