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Head chef Kitchen manager, executive chef

Head chefs oversee restaurants’ staff, food and budgets.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £50,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 40 or more per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need:

  • a passion for food
  • experience of running your own section in a professional kitchen
  • a qualification in food safety
Most head chefs work their way up from kitchen assistant to trainee chef, then section chef.

You could prepare for this role by taking a course in professional cookery that combines classroom-based study with practical experience and placements. 

You could also take an advanced level apprenticeship.

The Hospitality Guild has more information about becoming a head chef.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent cooking skills
  • leadership and management skills
  • organisational skills
  • the ability to control a budget and work with figures
  • the ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions
  • the ability to stay calm and overcome any food production problems

3. What you'll do

You’ll organise and manage the work of the kitchen staff, decide which tasks need to be done and share these among the team. You’ll also be involved in the some of the preparation and cooking of food.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning menus
  • making sure food is of the right quality and price
  • managing stock
  • ordering food from suppliers
  • controlling a budget and keeping accurate records
  • managing health and hygiene procedures
  • organising the staff duty rota
  • recruiting, training and developing staff

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000 to £18,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 or more

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work shifts, involving early mornings and late nights, weekends and public holidays.

Working in a kitchen is hot and humid. You’ll be on your feet most of the time and working under pressure. You’ll also work at a desk when planning menus. 

You’ll wear a uniform and hat for hygiene reasons and protection.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could go on to manage larger kitchens and more staff.

You could also set up your own business, running your own restaurant or franchise.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016