Executive Chef Job Description
Executive chefs are responsible for all daily food preparation, hiring cooking staff, and planning menus. Restaurants, hotels, and professional kitchens of all types hire executive chefs. Executive chefs often work evening and weekend hours and on holidays, because these are the times when kitchens are the most active. This is a supervisory position, so good leadership skills are required in addition to strong cooking skills.
Executive Chef Duties and Responsibilities
Executive chefs are responsible for all the food coming out of a kitchen, so need a strong knowledge of food. Kitchens seek professionals who demonstrate the following abilities:
Develop Menus and Create New Recipes
Executive chefs create menus and come up with new recipes as needed to replace old, outdated dishes with new and exciting options.
Adhere to Food Safety Regulations
Executive chefs must follow food safety regulations, because improperly stored or prepared food isn’t just a health violation, it can be potentially fatal to people eating it. The chef must also stay up-to-date on new health code regulations and begin following them the moment they are issued.
Hire and Train Cooking Staff
Executive chefs interview, hire, and train all cooking and kitchen staff, as well as fire staff members that are underperforming in their duties.
Monitor Daily Food Inventory and Order Items
Executive chefs order all food inventory and kitchen items as needed, monitoring the daily food supply to ensure that all ingredients are available as needed for recipes.
Executive chefs are responsible for the quality of all food leaving the kitchen and all inventory entering the kitchen.
Keep All Kitchen and Stock Areas Clean
Executive chefs see that all cooking, food preparation, and storage areas are clean and hygienic at all times.
Write Cost Analysis Reports
Executive chefs write cost analysis reports for all inventory and kitchen equipment needed and submit them to the restaurant manager or owner.
Inspect Kitchen Equipment
Executive chefs ensure all kitchen equipment and tools are operating at their peak and order new items as necessary.
Manage Kitchen Staff
Executive chefs write staff schedules and host staff meetings to brief employees on kitchen practices and changes.
Stay-up-to-Date on Culinary Trends
It’s necessary for executive chefs to be aware of food trends and what’s popular in the culinary world, tailoring menus to suit.
Executive Chef Skills and Qualifications
Executive chefs possess a finely-honed sense of taste, but they are also supervisors responsible for the kitchen staff. Kitchens hiring executive chefs seek out professionals who display the following:
- Cooking – executive chefs can cook anything at any time and know how to use ingredients to create tasty meals
- Leadership – executive chefs are managers responsible for the kitchen staff
- Time management – it takes a good sense of time management to create delicious meals in a timely fashion and ensure that appetizers and entrees make it to tables quickly
- Basic computer knowledge – most restaurants use special software to keep track of food orders and inventory
- Finance – a wasteful kitchen is not profitable, so executive chefs are required to have a basic financial knowledge to produce food as inexpensively as possible
Executive Chef Tools of the Trade
Executive chefs use certain tools frequently in order to perform their jobs:
- Spreadsheets (Google, Microsoft Excel)
- Kitchen equipment (stoves, food warmers, tongs, utensils)
Executive Chef Education and Training
Most kitchens look for executive chefs who have an associate’s degree in culinary arts. A degree in business administration is highly desired as well. However, having a lot of experience in the foodservice industry can make up for not having a formal education.
Executive Chef Salary and Outlook
In 2016, the median pay for chefs and head cooks was $43,180 per year, about $20.76 hourly. Research conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 146,500 executive chef jobs available in 2016, and through 2026 this industry is expected to grow by 10 percent. That’s slightly faster than the national average.
Health insurance and retirement benefits are generally not provided to executive chefs, though some bonuses and profit-sharing revenue may be offered.
Executive Chef Helpful Resources
Become a better, more successful executive chef by making use of these resources:
ChefQuant – A Practical Guide to Data Analysis and Modeling for Restaurant Owners, Managers, and Executive Chefs – This book offers a practical approach to being an executive chef, covering topics such as menu planning, pairing wine with food, and managing food inventory.
American Culinary Federation – Consult this website to learn about the latest culinary trends, to find seminars and workshops for chefs, and to learn more about getting accredited as a chef.
French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew – Read this book to learn more about French and other culinary techniques, including using kitchen tools that make the job easier.
United States Chef Association – This website provides certification for chefs and information about career advancement opportunities.
Private Cuisine: An Executive Chef’s Secrets to Gourmet Cooking Made Easy – Easy enough for cooking novices to understand, this book is for all those who want to hone their cooking skills, taking their culinary skills to a gourmet level.
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