Head Chef Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Head Chef, or Chef de Cuisine is a culinary expert who oversees the operations and staff of a restaurant or other dining facility’s kitchen. Their duties include creating and maintaining a kitchen’s budget, assigning tasks to other Chefs and ensuring customer satisfaction by expediently dealing with any issues that may arise.

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Head Chef duties and responsibilities

The exact duties of a Head Chef depend on the size of the establishment they work for. Head Chefs who work in a smaller environment often have a more hands-on role and may need to take on duties that a Sous Chef would normally handle. In generally their main duties and responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that kitchen staff adhere to quality, hygiene and cleanliness standards
  • Staying up-to-date with culinary trends and kitchen processes
  • Dealing with suppliers and ensuring that they supply quality goods at affordable prices
  • Managing the inventory and ordering stock as needed
  • Overseeing the maintenance of kitchen equipment and organising repairs when needed
  • Handling staff issues, such as sick leave and attendance, and taking disciplinary action when necessary
  • Developing new dishes and overhauling menus to attract more clientele 
  • Ensuring that guests receive excellent service and enjoy their culinary experience
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What does a Head Chef do?

Head Chefs are the main Chefs in a restaurant. Head Chefs don’t cook directly, nor are they involved in the daily activities in a kitchen. They typically leave the day-to-day running of a kitchen in the hands of the second in command , the Sous Chef. The Head Chef’s main concern is ensuring that a kitchen runs smoothly and profitably. A Head Chef also hires, trains and manages an establishment’s kitchen staff.

Head Chef skills and qualifications

The job of a Head Chef often involves interaction with people, whether they’re interviewing staff, dealing with suppliers or giving orders to other Chefs so they need to posses excellent interpersonal skills. In addition, a successful Head Chef will also have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that can include: 

  • The ability to constantly perform well in a high-pressure and fast-paced environment
  • Excellent organisational skills to ensure the smooth running of a kitchen
  • In-depth knowledge of all the sections in a kitchen to efficiently manage operations
  • Strong leadership skills to effectively manage and motivate a kitchen team
  • Solid financial acumen, including the ability to manage a budget
  • Creativity and superior culinary skills to create exceptional dishes for an establishment’s menu
  • Computer literacy, including a working knowledge of relevant software programs, such as a point-of-sale system and Microsoft Office
  • Business acumen to make sound decisions regarding things like menu prices and kitchen processes

Head Chef experience requirements

The level of experience a Head Chef needs depends on the position. Generally, the industry values candidates who have extensive on-the-job experience in a variety of kitchens and different types of restaurants. Some employers prefer candidates with two to three years of proven experience as a Head Chef, Sous Chef or experience in managing a culinary team. In addition, candidates may need to show financial knowledge and a proven ability to run a profitable kitchen.

Head Chef education and training requirements

There are no fixed education and training requirements for this occupation. Whereas some candidates obtain a position as Head Chef after years of on-the-job experience in the kitchen, others choose to qualify themselves. Relevant qualifications include a foundation degree, higher national diploma or a degree in culinary arts, hospitality management or professional cookery. Candidates can also develop their skills through college courses, such as a Level 3 Diploma in Advanced Professional Cookery or a Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts. Another way to gain valuable skills and experience in the field is through a Senior Culinary Chef Higher Apprenticeship.

Head Chef salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Head Chef in the UK is £30,329 per year. Salaries vary, depending on factors like location and employer.

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Head Chef job description FAQs

What are the hours of a Head Chef?

Head Chefs, just like other kitchen staff and often split shifts. The job typically requires long hours, which normally adds up to more than 40 hours a week and generally include working evenings, weekends and on bank holidays.

Which companies tend to employ Head Chefs?

Head Chefs typically work in restaurants, hospitals, cruise ships, hotels, resorts, schools and military bases.

What's the difference between an Executive and a Head Chef?

Executive Chefs typically only work at high-end or large restaurants. These professionals have an administrative and executive function and don’t work with staff or deal with kitchen matters. In contrast, Head Chefs set menus, order food supplies and hire and manage kitchen staff.

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