Skip to Main Content

What Is an Executive Chef and How to Become One

What Does an Executive Chef Do?

An executive chef is the head of the entire kitchen operation of a restaurant. Executive chefs manage inventory, budgeting, menu planning, training, plating, and all kitchen staff, from sous chefs to dishwashers. They ensure the high standard of food quality and that service runs smoothly and efficiently. Executive chefs are the highest level of level of management in the kitchen, and they are ultimately responsible for its success or failure.

How Do You Become an Executive Chef?

To become an executive chef, you must undergo serious culinary training and have years of experience. You begin by obtaining a high school diploma and then, apply to a culinary arts program or find an apprenticeship in a quality kitchen. You must learn the basics of cooking, purchasing, menu planning, presentation, and health codes. With this experience, you are ready to begin working as a line cook, eventually aiming for promotion to sous chef and then executive chef.

What Are Executive Chef Career Paths?

There are a few career paths to becoming an executive chef. Many executive chefs work for years as sous chefs, line cooks, and even kitchen assistants in order to gain the level of skill required. Many culinary professionals opt for a culinary arts degree program at the start of their career. Some simply gain experience on the job over time. The expertise, cool-headedness, and leadership skills an executive chef must have can only be gained through years of experience.

How Many Hours Does an Executive Chef Work?

Executive chefs work notoriously long hours. It is not uncommon for an executive chef to work on inventory, ordering, training, and menu planning throughout the day, and then work in the kitchen for the entire evening. While this a very demanding career, it is also very rewarding for those who are passionate about food and thrive while working under pressure.

What Skills Do You Need to Be an Executive Chef?

Executive chefs must possess many skills beyond just cooking. The ability to creatively and create recipes and execute them consistently and quickly is just the beginning. Executive chefs are also businesspeople, managing ordering, staffing, and budgeting to maintain profit margins. They are also people managers with excellent communication and organizational skills. They are experts in sanitation and quality. They also must have the ability to work under pressure.

Executive Chef Job Description Sample

With this Executive Chef job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Executive Chef role.

Job Summary

We are looking for a highly-experienced and creative Executive Chef to join our fast-paced restaurant. You will create new menu items, train and direct all kitchen staff, maintain quality control during meal preparation and service, and manage inventory and purchasing. Administrative duties include documenting food costs and meeting budget targets for kitchen supplies. You must have proven success in the kitchen as a confident, effective, and efficient leader who can motivate and work collaboratively with kitchen staff.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Create new recipes and design overall menu, including specials each week
  • Order and arrange pickup or delivery of foods for the week
  • Coordinate and direct all food preparation, from prep through service
  • Monitor the quality of all food and beverages
  • Track, record, and maintain inventory stock including foods, beverages, and kitchen supplies
  • Oversee repairs of kitchen appliances
  • Hire and train new kitchen staff
  • Maintain a clean kitchen and follow all state food safety and sanitation laws

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Culinary Arts degree preferred
  • 5+ years experience in a head chef or managerial kitchen position
  • American Culinary Federation certification preferred
  • ServSafe certification
  • Vast knowledge in culinary arts, including any new up and coming food trends
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills
  • Proven leadership and creative abilities inside the kitchen

We updated our online Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy effective April 26, 2023 to reflect new product and service offerings, and include additional obligations for employers that use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to protect personal data. By continuing to use our website or Services, you consent to the updated Terms of Use and acknowledge that you have read the Privacy Policy, and Cookie Policy.