How Much Money Does Chefs Make?

If you are interested in cooking different types of food you may want to turn this into a career. In this post we will answer the question “how much money does chefs make?” It seems that a lot of people are looking for a career as a chef as this question is asked a lot.

Once you become a professional chef, different opportunities are likely to present themselves to you. Where you are located in the world has a significant bearing on the amount that you can earn as a professional chef. If you live in the United States, the average salary for a chef varies from one state to another.

Are Chefs and Cooks the same?

Many people believe that a chef and a cook are the same thing but this is not the case. You need to understand the difference because it has a significant impact on what you can earn. If you take a look at a professional kitchen, you will see that there are different roles that different people perform.

You can consider a cook to be somewhere between entry-level and mid-level in the professional kitchen hierarchy. A cook will follow recipes to the letter and will not deviate from them. There is actually a hierarchy of different cooks in a large professional kitchen.

Usually, at the bottom end of the scale are the “prep” cooks. These people are responsible for food preparation as the name suggests. After this you will probably see a “fry” cook and then a cook that grills food or cooks specific types of food such as fish. A good chef often has the opportunity to advance to a chef position with the right experience and determination.

Chefs are higher ranking than cooks in a professional kitchen. Their responsibilities are often wide-ranging and usually include the management of junior employees. A chef will probably be responsible for menu planning and is likely to have some free reign over the creation of new dishes. It is usual for a chef to have a lot of experience behind them.

So, how much money does Chefs make?

We will use the United States as the benchmark for salaries in this post. The hourly national rate for a chef is just over $15 per hour. There are different types of chef which we will discuss in more detail below.

This is important because the hourly national rate for an executive chef is more than twice a regular chef at over $31 per hour. Similarly, a sous chef has a national hourly rate of more than $23 per hour and a head chef has a national hourly rate of over $23.50 per hour.

Another important factor is the location. A chef in New York City will be on a much higher hourly rate than one in Fleet, Michigan for example. Major cities usually command much higher rates of pay for chefs.

At the time of writing this post, the national annual pay rates for chefs in the US is as follows:

  • Entry-level chefs earn between $19,000 and $57,000 per annum
  • Mid-level chefs earn between $22,000 and $55,000 per annum
  • Experienced chefs earn between $22,500 and $57,000 per annum
  • Late career chefs earn between $24,000 and $61,000 per annum

Again, this will vary from one location to another. The highest salaries will be in the major cities but of course the cost of living in these cities is higher than elsewhere. This will apply in other countries too. If you take the UK for example, a chef in central London will earn more than one in the provinces.

Different Types of Chef

There are different types of chef in professional kitchens and they will earn different salaries. If you are an executive chef then you will be in charge of the activities in the kitchen. You will spend most of your time managing and a small amount of time cooking.

Executive chefs are usually the highest earners as they are responsible for recruiting and managing kitchen employees, the purchase of stock for the kitchen and the day-to-day management. They are responsible for ensuring that the customers receive the finest food and will conduct “taste tests” regularly.

In smaller kitchens you may find that the executive chef is called the head chef. They have the same responsibilities, but the kitchen is smaller so they are not paid as much as executive chefs.

Then there is the chef de cuisine who is in charge of food preparation and cooking. These tend to be very experienced chefs and they may have other responsibilities too such as recruitment. A sous chef is a specialized chef and is often the second in command at a large kitchen.

Final Words

We have answered the question “how much money does chefs make?” in this post. Becoming a chef can be a very rewarding career and there is the opportunity to earn good money at all levels. If you are just starting out you will need to gain experience as a cook first.

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