If you spend any amount of time watching television, you have likely seen shows such as Chopped or Cutthroat Kitchen. While these glorify the title of executive chef, how much do you know what is an executive chef? This executive chef job description shows that they act as the manager of the kitchen and complete tasks such as hiring and payroll. That’s in addition to creating the signature dishes of a restaurant.
It turns out that the reality television shows do not accurately portray an executive chef job description. Use this article as a guide to identify their responsibilities and essential skills, and learn about required education and experience. Additionally, you can see the typical work schedule, and know if there is a positive job outlook.
What Does an Executive Chef Do?
The executive chef is essentially the creative director and manager of the restaurant. They have the final say in a lot of decisions such as hiring, food ordering, menu planning, and marketing. One of the most important things an executive chef does is the training of the line cooks. They can make the best dish, but if the line cooks cannot make the dish, then it will result in a varied dining experience. The executive chef reports to the general manager or owner of the restaurant.
Almost all executive chefs began their career as line cooks. The typical education is an associate’s degree in culinary arts or a related field. Most students will go to culinary school. Executive chefs work long hours and regularly work more than 40 hours a week. The median executive chef job salary is $74,891 according to StarChefs.
Executive Chef Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities
While the actual responsibilities of an executive chef will vary according to where they work, there are some underlying similarities between all of these positions. Take these resume builders and make them your own when applying for an executive chef position.
- Locate the source of food for menu items and strive to provide local food whenever possible.
- Create the standard and feature menus and describe these in a way that makes them appetizing.
- Train all staff and observe line cooks preparing the dishes.
- Take inventory of kitchen items and make efforts to reduce waste.
- Visit customers throughout their dining experience and make sure that everything is satisfactory.
- Monitor hygiene of staff and ensure that food is safe and healthy.
- Rectify situations when a customer is not happy with their meal.
Executive Chef Required Skills
- Food preparation skills. The most important skill for any chef is the ability to use their knife. Knife cuts make dishes uniform and the taste consistent. Also, they must also prepare meat in the same way and use the same treatments to produce uniform meals.
- Leadership skills. Executive chefs are the leader of the kitchen. As such, they must be able to instill confidence and motivation in their staff. Leading by example and keeping a professional atmosphere are vital parts of being an active leader in the kitchen.
- Time management skills. When people go to a restaurant, they are likely hungry and want their food in a timely manner. Therefore, executive chefs must be able to create processes that cut down on the time it takes to make a meal while still delivering excellent food. In the kitchen, this the Mis en Place.
- Creativity skills. Chefs are always pushing the boundaries of what they can prepare and how to prepare it. Having the confidence to take risks and try to use an ingredient in a different way or introduce a new food are imperative to creating a culinary experience for the customer.
How to Become an Executive Chef
The most common career path for an executive chef to take is to begin their career as a line cook. After, they progress to higher positions as they gain more responsibility. Those who do not complete an apprenticeship program will earn their associate’s or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. One of the absolute requirements for executive chefs is that they have several years of experience.
Education & Training Requirements
The bare minimum requirement in the executive chef job description is to have their high school diploma. Many of these professionals will pursue some form of higher education. Completing an apprenticeship program is a very normal part of the educational experience for chefs. This can come in a fine dining establishment, in a catering service, or in the military.
The basic coursework covered in a higher education program is all aspects of kitchen work, sanitation procedures, and managing inventory. There are over 200 programs at higher education institutions certified by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
However, they require no certificates or licenses to practice as an executive chef. Certificates can show a certain level of expertise and experience, though. The ACF issues a certification for executive chefs. This includes a written exam and a performance-based assessment in which chefs taking the exam have to prepare meals. The minimum requirements for this certification are 150 hours of continuing education credit, one course in nutrition, one course in food safety and sanitation, and one in supervisory management, and five years as a sous chef.
An executive chef job description will call for someone who has several years of experience. Most of them have worked in the industry for over 20 years before they obtain their position. Working in a restaurant kitchen is an intense and stressful experience. Executive chefs need to be intimately aware of this environment so that they can effectively manage the kitchen employees. The food service industry typically promotes from within. Thus, executive chefs could begin their career as a line cook at the same restaurant that they become the executive chef.
It is very common for executive chefs to participate in an apprenticeship program. These programs are two years long. During the program, the apprentice will complete 1,000 hours of in-class instruction and 1,000 hours of paid time in the kitchen.
The work schedule in the executive chef job description is demanding and not flexible. They will have to work in the morning, during restaurant hours, in the evening, on weekends, and on holidays. They do not spend all of their time cooking. Instead, they spend some time managing the business and establishing partnerships to purchase food.
It is very common for an executive chef to work more than 40 hours a week. Their work environment is potentially hazardous because of the risk of cutting oneself with a knife or burning oneself with a hot pan. Approximately 5 percent of executive chefs are self-employed. While these chefs set their own hours, they also have to take care of the business side of the job such as marketing to and billing clients.
The expected job growth for executive chefs is 9 percent through the year 2024. There is high turnover in the restaurant industry. This means that there may be more than anticipated job openings in certain areas. Their job growth depends on the economy. When people do not have dispensable income, one of the first things that gets eliminated is the eating out budget.
The job market will be very competitive in industries where the pay is highest, and the restaurant is of superior quality. According to an article in the Washington Post, executive chefs are drawn to work in the Las Vegas area. The median executive chef salary, according to StarChefs, is $75,596. In Las Vegas, the median wage is $85,000 a year. However, excellent chefs will draw a nice salary anywhere in the country. Hotels have more flexibility in how much they pay their executive chefs because their profit is not limited to restaurant sales.
An executive chef job description shows that they have to have a passion for cooking. The hours are long, and it takes an extensive amount of work experience to make it to the level of executive chef. However, the earning potential can increase significantly for a sought-after executive chef. The executive chef salary is relatively high at $75,596. However, this has to be put into perspective when considering it takes 20 years to achieve the role of executive chef.