What do Chefs and Head Cooks Do?
As culinary masters of the restaurant dining experience, chefs and head cooks utilize their skills to make magic in the kitchen. Most chefs are in charge of directing food preparation while seasoning and approving items before they leave the kitchen. Some also help to plan the restaurant’s menu as well as pricing the items, ordering needed supplies and keeping an accurate record of kitchen stock.With so many people spending time eating out, the growth in this field is expected to increase exponentially over the next few years. Across the United States, there is an estimated upsurge of around 2,470 chef job openings projected over the next few years averaging out to a 5% overall rise.
Chefs and Head Cooks Skills and Abilities
To be successful in running a restaurant kitchen, you need to have excellent organizational, customer service and processing skills, as well as the obvious knowledge of food production and creativity. In addition to these must-have skills, your ability to manage both your time and those underneath you is invaluable in this field as keeping your workspace running efficiently is vital to a prosperous eatery.
Chefs and Head Cooks Duties
Head cooks and chefs aren’t only responsible for creating and putting out dishes. While exceptional food presentation and production are two of the main duties in this line of work, a chef has many other operational activities as well. You will need to be prepared to manage your crew, perform various human resources responsibilities, coordinate the budget for food and other supplies and keep an accurate pantry record. Some of the other duties required of you would include:
- Monitoring proper sanitation practices and food handling safety
- Exercising creativity in the kitchen
- Planning menus and various dishes
- Writing purchase orders and coordinating deliveries
- Demonstrating food techniques to kitchen staff
- Training employees in restaurant standards and preparations
- Effectively solving problems that arise
- Exhibiting exceptional communication and decision-making abilities
Chefs and Head Cooks Tools and Technology
Head chefs utilize a wide variety of tools in order to create diverse dishes and run a tight ship. Cooks should have an in-depth knowledge of all commercial kitchen tools, including:
- Boning knives, saws and other cutlery
- Meat, bread and other slicing machines
- Plane and box graters, fruit zesters and food shredders
- Ranges and ovens, both gas and electric
- Fridge, meat and pocket thermometers
In addition to these common utensils, employees in this field require familiarity in several software programs which store and load recipes, keep track of inventories, plan menus, analyze meal nutritional values and compile spreadsheets.
Education and Training for Chefs and Head Cooks
As with any job, becoming a chef requires specific training and knowledge. Most in this career field have a high school diploma or more, but, with this profession, experience is very advantageous. Having the talent and skill from on-the-job training and previous employment will generally give you the capability that you need to take on the job of head cook.
Chefs and Head Cooks Salary
When it comes to salary in the culinary field, amounts vary greatly depending upon experience, natural talent and ambition. The national average of cook salaries falls right around $20 an hour, or $41,600 annually, with the low end falling close to $11 an hour and the highest being in the $35 per hour range.
Chefs and Head Cooks Jobs by Geography
Starting a career in this line of work in Arizona, Utah or Texas is an excellent idea as these are the top three states with the largest percentage of growth in chef jobs across the nation. While the District of Columbia, New Jersey and Delaware offer the highest median wages for those in this field, make sure to also look for the job that best suits you and your culinary style.