what is a chef?

A chef is a professional who oversees food preparation. You use your culinary skills to manage a kitchen and ensure restaurant customers receive the best services. Unlike other kitchen employees, a chef is involved in cooking and kitchen management. That means you plan menus, research new dishes for the restaurant and experiment with different ingredients to provide a unique experience for visitors.

As a chef, you require impressive culinary skills and food preparation expertise to coordinate work activities in the kitchen. Since you are responsible for both flavour and presentation, you need creativity to ensure the dishes taste great and look appetising. Aside from cooking preparation and coordinating kitchen staff, you also perform administrative duties like ordering ingredients, sourcing vendors and managing food stock. You work with the restaurant manager to set food prices and determine the cost of the dishes.

Your duties differ depending on the size of the establishment. When you work in a large high-end restaurant, you may take up a managerial role and only cook when devising new dishes for the menu. In less formal establishments, a chef's duties are managing food stock, cooking and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy.

Chefs work in any establishment that prepares food, from snack bars to hotels, cafes, restaurants, cruise ships and companies offering catering services.

chef jobs

average salary of a chef

The average salary of a chef is $65,000 per year. When you are an entry-level chef, your remuneration package is $60,000 annually, while experienced chefs take home over $70,000 annually. Your salary depends on your responsibilities and rank in the company you work for. For instance, head chefs earn between $75,000 and $95,000 annually since they perform supervisory roles. On the other hand, chef de parties earn an average salary of $58,000 as they work under the head chef.

how to increase your salary as a chef

A chef's remuneration package depends on various factors, including responsibilities, work experience and company size. For instance, head chefs earn more since they take up additional responsibilities like inventing new dishes and ordering inventory. Chef de Parties are paid less as they are junior kitchen staff whose role is to cook and serve dishes based on the recipes provided.

When you have extensive experience and culinary mastery, you can negotiate a better remuneration package due to the skills you bring to the table. Working for large restaurants can be rewarding as they have the resources to pay better salaries than snack bars and less formal establishments.

Want to know what you will earn as a chef? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

chef salary

types of chefs


Some of the types of chefs include:

  • executive chefs: You manage all the kitchen activities as an executive chef. While you don't cook the meals, you taste the dishes before they are served to customers. You also review the plate presentation and develop new menu items.
  • butcher chefs: as a butcher chef, you prepare the meat before it moves to different workstations. You prepare various meat types and cuts based on the menu to ensure the chefs have well-prepared meat for customer orders.
  • pastry chefs: as a pastry chef, you prepare baked goods and desserts. Your job is to mix the batters, prepare dough for various pastries and desserts, and ensure customers receive their desserts on time.
  • Chef de Partie chefs: as a commis chef, you are a junior-level worker who assists in meal preparation. Your job is to shadow chefs and assist at various workstations. You prepare ingredients and clean the work areas.
types of chefs
types of chefs

working as a chef

Working as a chef is an exciting and fast-paced job that involves numerous responsibilities. Read on for details on the specific tasks, work schedules and career prospects involved in the role.


education and skills


While chefs don't require formal education, you may require some training to improve your culinary skills and prepare for managerial roles. Some courses to explore are a Certificate III in commercial cookery or completing an apprenticeship as part of the Certificate III in patisserie VET course, or a Certificate III in bread baking.

When you complete your apprenticeship, you should develop your cooking skills by working in entry-level positions. Some chefs also specialise in a cooking style or further their studies with a Certificate IV in commercial cookery to improve their leadership skills.

chef skills and competencies

Some of the skills and competencies of a chef include:

  • organisation skills: you should be organised to plan workflows in the kitchen and ensure food is prepared promptly. Lack of organisation can lead to mixing up orders or menu items and presenting the wrong dishes to customers.
  • multitasking skills: you cook a range of food items on the menu and perform other tasks. Multitasking skills help you coordinate the various elements of food preparation.
  • creativity: you rely on creativity to develop a unique menu and create impressive food presentations. You are also in charge of the décor, seating arrangements and tableware to enhance the dining experience.

FAQs about working as a chef

Here are the most asked questions about working as a chef:

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