What are the different types of chefs? (With salaries)
Updated 23 September 2023
A pair of hands slices a tomato on a cutting board, with dishes holding other food on either side. There's also a list with the title "What are the different types of chefs?" and these jobs:
• Roast chef
• Vegetable chef
• Fish chef
• Meat chef
Being a chef can be a fast-paced and stimulating job. There are various types of chefs and they each have their own duties and areas of speciality. Learning about the different types of chefs, what they do and the various possibilities that exist in the field can help you decide if being a chef is the right path for you. In this article, we look at 15 of the different types of chefs and their responsibilities.
What are the different types of chefs?
'Chef' is not a one-size-fits-all term, as there are many types of chefs. For example, some chef roles like executive chefs, head chefs and sous chefs, specifically manage other chefs. There are also chefs dedicated to a particular type of food, including meat chefs, vegetable chefs and fish chefs. There are also chefs that oversee certain cooking styles, like roast, fry and saucier chefs. Here are five types of speciality chefs that typically work in a kitchen:
Roast chef: A roast chef prepares and cooks meat and vegetables in an oven. They roast, braise, broil or use other methods to prepare food, monitor them throughout the cooking time and may also create complimentary sauces.
Vegetable chef: A vegetable chef handles most of the dishes that involve vegetables and establishes the best method of preparing the vegetables, such as roasting, steaming, sauteing or frying. Their duties may include discovering ways to prepare several vegetables for the same dish, preparing soup dishes and developing various sauces or toppings to accompany vegetable dishes.
Fish chef: A fish chef typically prepares all the fish-based meals for the restaurant and establishes which fish are in season, the best methods of preparing them and what sides would pair well. A fish chef may fry, roast, steam or sauté fish and prepare some cuts of fish to be consumed raw.
Meat chef: A meat chef cooks all the meat required for dishes and establishes the best cut of meat for each dish, inspects the quality of the meat and prepares it accordingly. A meat chef typically decides the best ways to prepare a cut of meat and may also decide which side dishes and sauces pair best with the various types of meat.
Saucier: A saucier, or sauce chef, is usually third in kitchen command and works under the direction of the head chef and the sous chef. Their speciality is to develop sauces to accompany each of the dishes served to customers, which can include salad dressings, pasta sauces, stews, stocks and gravy.
What is the difference between a chef and a cook?
Though there are some similarities in these roles and some people may use the terms cook and chef interchangeably, a chef and a cook are not the same. Chefs usually have a minimum of a few years of experience working in kitchens and manage and organise a kitchen or a specific area of the kitchen. A chef may also plan a restaurant's menu, experiment with new recipes and ingredients and develop new dishes to introduce to the menu.
A cook is typically an entry-level worker employed in a more casual setting, such as a fast-food restaurant. They usually follow specific recipes with little deviation. It's possible for a cook to become a chef with some experience and commitment to the role. Many chefs have also undergone specialised training, such as attending a culinary school to work in a high-quality kitchen. Though formal education is not a requirement to become a chef, those who graduate from a culinary school can have more opportunities available to them and may have a higher earning potential.
Related: 10 Essential Chef Skills
Jobs for chefs
Below is a list of the types of roles a chef might find in a kitchen. A chef's salary depends a lot on the restaurant they work in, their level of training, areas of speciality and the area of the country in which they work:
1. Fry chef
National average salary: £12,371 per year
Primary duties: A fry chef operates fryers to cook meat, vegetables and sometimes cheese, monitoring them during cooking. They may also prepare various foods before they're fried by breading them, battering them or freezing them. A fry chef can develop sauces to accompany these dishes.
2. Commis chef
National average salary: £18,286 per year
Primary duties: A commis chef is an entry-level chef who works under the other chefs to gain experience and learn more about working in a kitchen. Responsibilities include helping chefs prepare meals when required, making sure workstations are clean and providing chefs with the equipment or ingredients. A commis chef may achieve promotions as they gain more experience working in a kitchen.
3. Butcher chef
National average salary: £20,842 per year
Primary duties: A butcher chef is typically responsible for preparing the meat so that it's ready for different workstations. They establish the needs of other chefs in the kitchen, prepare the correct types of meat and the right cuts for each shift. They may also inspect the quality of meat, overseeing inventory and curing or storing the meat.
National average salary: £22,722 per year
Primary duties: An expediter takes care of the final preparations for plates before they're served to customers. Though they're not technically a chef, they have an important place in a kitchen. Expediters match all orders with dishes, ensuring all dishes are accurate and prepared correctly. In a smaller kitchen, sometimes the executive or head chef will fulfil the role of the expediter.
National average salary: £23,223 per year
Primary duties: A Chef de Partie helps to get the kitchen ready for mealtimes. They may arrive earlier to chop vegetables, bake bread and prepare food that is easily made ahead of time. They also establish the day-to-day kitchen necessities and retrieve chilled goods from the fridge or freezer so that they're ready to use.
Related: What Is a Chef de Partie?
6. Pastry chef
National average salary: £25,739 per year
Primary duties: A pastry chef, also known as a pâtissier, prepares baked goods, such as pastries, bread and desserts. They usually bake the dough and batter and decorate baked goods like cakes, croissants, pastries, eclairs, puff pastry and bread. Pastry chefs work somewhat independently from other chefs and typically make unilateral decisions. They're usually a senior member of the kitchen staff and have attended a culinary school to become a specialist.
7. Sous chef
National average salary: £27,161 per year
Primary duties: A sous chef works directly with the executive or head chef to ensure the other chefs carry out their duties, finish orders and meet the requirements of the restaurant. They are the second in command and are in constant communication with all chefs. They ensure that the chefs have everything they need, such as ingredients and equipment. Sous chefs are more directly involved with food preparation than the head chef.
8. Pantry chef
National average salary: £27,387 per year
Primary duties: A pantry chef manages the stock in the fridge and preparing cold dishes. They're often employed in larger restaurants that have numerous cold storage areas. They require a specific individual to be accountable for monitoring the levels of supply and making sure that all the food is fresh. Pantry chefs may order stock, provide chefs with cold items and also prepare some cold dishes, such as salads.
9. Head chef
National average salary: £31,298 per year
Primary duties: In some kitchens, a head chef is similar to an executive chef. They oversee and manage kitchen activities, including maintaining inventory, ordering supplies and training new employees. A head chef may also uphold relationships with wholesalers, supervise kitchen staff and communicate with other members of staff and customers.
10. Executive chef
National average salary: £38,772 per year
Primary duties: An executive chef manages all kitchen activities. They supervise the kitchen during their shift and ensure each chef carries out their respective duties within an appropriate time. They rarely cook the food but oversee other chefs, taste dishes before they're sent to customers and review the presentation of the final plates. Executive chefs usually create the menu and introduce new dishes and ingredients. It often requires years of training and experience to become an executive chef.
Average salary for a chef
The average salary for a chef is £24,211 per year. This can vary based on their job role, location, experience and skill sets. As there are varying types of chefs and specialities, knowing the position you want to pursue can help you narrow your focus to one of the many jobs available.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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