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A career as an executive chef

April 21, 2009

Executive chefs make most of the restaurant’s administrative decisions. These decisions include designing the menu, setting prices, reviewing food and beverage purchases, and planning special menu items. Most executive chefs are also responsible for interviewing and hiring prospective kitchen workers and investing in employee development and training.

Annual earnings of chefs and head cooks in full-service restaurants, May 2007
[Chart data—TXT]

During mealtime, the chef may do administrative work or, depending on how busy the restaurant is, help the cooks in the kitchen. Executive chefs can’t oversee everything that occurs during mealtime, so they must delegate some tasks to sous chefs or cooks.

After the day’s cooking shifts are complete, the executive chef gives and receives feedback from cooks, initiates cleanup, and logs the day’s sales.

BLS data show that in May 2007, there were about 50,000 chefs and head cooks—the occupation that includes executive chefs—employed in full-service restaurants in the United States. They had a median annual wage of $34,970 in May 2007, with the lowest earning 10 percent making $20,720 or less. However, chefs and head cooks may also earn bonuses, based on sales volume and revenue. The highest paid 10 percent earned $60,770 or more.

Employment of chefs and head cooks is projected to grow 8 percent overall during the 2006–16 decade, more slowly than the average for all occupations. But most of the new jobs for these workers are expected to be in full-service restaurants.

These data are from the Occupational Employment Statistics program and the Employment Projections program. For more information, see "More than food and drink: Careers in restaurants," by Drew Liming, Occupational Outlook Quarterly, Spring 2009.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, A career as an executive chef at (visited May 18, 2024).

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