How to become a Head Chef

What is a head chef?

A head chef is a highly skilled professional cook who oversees the operations of a restaurant or dining facility. Their responsibility is generally controlling the whole kitchen, from managing kitchen staff and controlling kitchen costs to liaising with suppliers and creating menus.

How to become a head chef?

You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in culinary arts, hospitality management, professional cookery. A course with industry placements will help you to gain experience and may give you an advantage when looking for work.

You could also do a college course like a Level 3 Diploma In Advanced Professional Cookery or Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts.

Most head chefs work their way up after starting in a job like a kitchen assistant, before working as a section chef and building up their skills and experience. You’ll also need a qualification in food safety.

Head chef duties

Head chef duties are diverse and depend on the employer and specialty, but some responsibilities are common to most:

  • Construct menus with new or existing culinary creations ensuring the variety and quality of the servings
  • Ultimately responsible for ensuring the kitchen meets all regulations including sanitary and food safety guidelines
  • Ensure that all food preparation is in accordance with regulatory guidelines
  • Be fully in charge of hiring, managing and training kitchen staff
  • Control and direct the food preparation process and any other relative activities
  • Managing and working closely with other Chefs of all levels
  • Look for ways to reduce spoilage of infrequently used items

Head chef skills

To be an effective head chef, you’ll need certain skills and competencies. The following are often cited in job vacancies:

  • Ability to lead and inspire a team
  • Strong passion for the art of food design
  • Experience of dangerous equipment such as knives
  • Competent level of English spoken and written
  • Ability in dividing responsibilities and monitoring progress
  • Exceptional proven ability of kitchen management
  • Exceptional proven ability of kitchen management

How to find a head chef job

These jobs are advertised online, in local newspapers and at your local jobcentre. To find all the head chef jobs near you, you need to:

  • Search for head chef jobs on popular job websites such as; Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library
  • Use the DWP’s Find A Job Service
  • Check local newspapers and local Facebook groups, especially groups dedicated to local jobs

Head Chef Job Titles

When you search for head chef jobs online, be aware that the jobs might be advertised using a different job title. Popular job titles for head chef jobs include;

  • Executive chef
  • Chef de Cuisine
  • Kitchen Manager

What does a head chef do?

The job of a head chef varies depending on the job role and the company you’re working for. Check the duties and responsibilities of head chef job advertisements to find jobs that best suit your skills and experience. 

The day-to-day tasks of a head chef include;

  • Plan menus and create new dishes
  • Research and find new ingredients and catering equipment
  • Present new ideas to restaurant managers and owners
  • Make sure food is of the right quality and price
  • Control a budget and keep accurate records
  • Organise and supervise the team preparing and presenting food
  • Manage health and hygiene procedures
  • Recruit, train and develop staff
  • Manage stock and order food from suppliers
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