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The role

Chefs prepare food using a variety of cooking techniques. In large kitchens they normally work as part of a team responsible for one particular area, such as bread and pastries, or vegetables. The head chef, also known as the executive chef, runs the entire kitchen.


Chefs carry out a variety of tasks including:

  • planning menus
  • dealing with suppliers
  • managing the budget
  • organising staff
  • monitoring and maintaining the quality of food produced in the kitchen
  • making sure the kitchen works within relevant hygiene, health and safety guidelines


How to become a chef

Some employers want new recruits to possess a good general standard of education, possibly including GCSEs in subjects such as English and maths.
An alternative or addition to the GCSE route is a course that combines classroom-based study with work placements, such as:
Level 2 Certificate in Hospitality and Catering Principles (awarded by EDI and City & Guilds)
BTEC HND in Professional Cookery
foundation degree in Culinary Arts Management
Another way of pursuing a career as a chef is through an apprenticeship scheme.


Skills and knowledge required


  • a keen interest in food and cooking
  • the ability to work under pressure as part of a team
  • high standards of cleanliness and hygiene
  • the ability to manage multiple tasks
  • creativity and imagination for food presentation


Salary Expectations

A trainee (commis) chef may start on around £12,200 a year
Section chefs (chefs de partie) can earn up to £16,000
A second chef (sous chef) may earn around £22,000
Head chefs can earn up to £30,000
An executive head chef in a top hotel can earn between £40,000 and £50,000

The hours

Very early starts and late nights are all part of a days' work. Shift work at weekends and during public holidays are also the norm. Part-time, casual and seasonal work is often available.


Useful websites – the sector skills council for hospitality, travel, leisure and tourism


online magazines