A chef is in charge of the preparation of food in a kitchen setting, creating great tasting food, and ensuring it reaches customers on time.
They lead a team of kitchen staff and are responsible for ensuring the kitchen runs efficiently throughout each food service, while meeting quality and hygiene standards.
This detailed guide includes a full chef job description and everything else you need to know about chefs, including salaries, skills, responsibilities and more.
- Chef job description
- How much do chefs earn?
- What does a chef do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs chefs?
- Which junior jobs progress to chef roles?
Chef job description
Chef |Birch Restaurant
About Birch Restaurant
Here at Birch Restaurant, we’ve created a name for ourselves by sourcing and serving food straight from the forest to the plate. Our innovative, award-winning menu is changed weekly, and is centred on “root to stalk” dining.
About the role
We are looking for a chef to join our busy kitchen based in Dorset. You will oversee a team of 12, and work closely with the front-of-house manager to ensure great tasting food is served efficiently to our customers.
- Develop and plan our weekly menu inspired by local, seasonal produce
- Oversee the preparation and production of dishes throughout each service, ensuring they meet our high-quality standards
- Lead our culinary team of 12 kitchen staff, including ongoing training and mentoring
- Help the team with food preparation and plating during busy periods
- Monitor stock levels, order ingredients and manage suppliers
- Oversee the kitchen budget and ensure steps are taken to minimise overhead costs and food wastage
- Adhere to all health and safety regulations, including safe preparation and storage of food and maintaining a safe work environment
- Monitor kitchen equipment and organising repairs or replacements when needed
Location & commitments
- Permanent, full time position
- May be required to work weekends, evenings and holidays
- Based at our restaurant in Dorset
- Extensive experience working in restaurant kitchens, ideally with a plant-based focus
- Solid understanding of different culinary techniques and flavour profiles
- Experience managing a team of kitchen staff
- Awareness and understanding of culinary trends
- Knowledge of health and safety regulations
- Basic computer skills including Microsoft Office
- Culinary school diploma preferred
Contact us to apply
If you’d like to join our passionate team, please send your CV and cover letter to our restaurant manager Chris at Chris.Ryan@birch-restaurant.co.uk
How much do chefs earn?
Salaries for chefs are in line with the rest of the hospitality industry, with an average salary of £27,000
Chef salaries in the UK
- Low: £22,492
- Average: £27,000
- High: £32,500
Chef salaries will vary depending on;
- The type of food being prepared – e.g. simple sandwiches, Italian cuisine, fine dining etc.
- The type of establishment – e.g. is the role in a Michelin-starred restaurant? Local pub? Or a school canteen?
- The size of the kitchen – e.g. is the chef working independently in a small kitchen or supervising a large team of kitchen staff?
- General salary factors – Such as level of candidate experience and location
For example, chefs working in large fine dining establishments in major cities will be required to possess a more advanced skillset and culinary knowledge, so will be paid more than a chef working in a mass-catering venue or local pub.
Keep in mind that these figures are averaged out and don’t take into account any additional benefits or bonuses that may come with the job.
What does a chef do?
Breaking down the job description jargon, here are the typical tasks and responsibilities that a chef will carry out in an average work week;
- Planning menus – Designing menus and dishes that fit with the venue’s style and brand
- Overseeing meal preparation – Supervising the production of all dishes delivered by the venue to the customers
- Quality control – Reviewing dishes before they are served, and tasting food as it is being prepared to ensure it meets appropriate quality standards
- Food preparation – Supporting kitchen staff with food preparation during busy periods
- Supervising staff – Overseeing a team of kitchen staff, including preparing rotas, recruiting and training
- Budget management – Being responsible for the kitchen budget, including the ordering of ingredients and reducing wastage
- Vendor management – Sourcing the best food produce available within set budgets and managing relationships with suppliers
- Health and safety – Ensuring a safe work space, and training staff in health and safety regulations to reduce accidents and risk of foodborne illnesses
- Maintaining equipment – Monitoring quality of kitchen equipment, and organising repairs and replacements when required
What do chefs need?
Chefs need a range of skills, experience, knowledge and sometimes qualifications in order to carry out the job effectively.
Exact requirements will often depend on the venue and the size of the kitchen team, but here is a general summary of what’s required.
Chefs will need differing levels of experience depending on their seniority. These are the main chef career stages
- Commis chef (junior) – This is the entry level for chefs and can be gained straight from school or college (especially after any kind of culinary training) or after gaining some more junior experience such as kitchen porter or dish washer
- Chef de Partie (mid level) – This role involves managing a particular station in the kitchen (such as fish, poultry, pastry etc.) and will require a few years of experience as a Commis chef
- Head chef (senior) – This is the most senior role in the kitchen, managing all other chef staff, and so requires many years of experience within the industry
Chefs need to be able to run kitchens in busy and sometimes stressful situations, so need to possess the following:
- Creativity: Applying knowledge of food preparation and trends to plan and deliver exciting dishes
- Leadership: Directing and inspiring teams of kitchen staff and leading by example
- Multi-tasking: Overseeing a large numbers of orders throughout each shift and ensuring each dish is prepared to a high standard
- Stress management: Working in a high-pressured environment with competing priorities
- Attention to detail: Enforcing quality control to ensure that all dishes served are consistent and meet the standards of the establishment
And the more industry specific “hard skills” include:
- Cooking skills: Solid abilities in chopping, food preparation, frying, sauce creation and understanding of flavours
- Food produce knowledge: A sound understanding of all produce including meat, fish, vegetables etc. and their seasonality
- Kitchen process: Knowing how a kitchen needs to operate in order to run effectively and safely
- Food and safety knowledge: Understanding of health and safety regulations including how to prepare and store food, and ensuring the kitchen is a safe place to work for employees
It is not essential to have formal qualifications when working as a chef, with many chefs working their way up from other kitchen staff jobs or apprenticeships.
However, venues like fine-dining catering companies and Michelin-starred restaurants will often expect candidates to have completed a diploma at a respected culinary school.
Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery
City & Guilds offers this qualification for experienced chefs already working in the industry, who are looking to improve their existing skills. It covers topics such as developing working relationships with colleagues, food safety and health and safety of the working environment. There is also the opportunity to specialise in areas of cooking like fish preparation or healthy dishes in the optional units.
Le Cordon Bleu Grand Diplôme
This nine-month course is highly respected and covers all the techniques of classical French cuisine. Students can choose between the Diplôme de Cuisine or the Diplôme de Patisserie.
Leiths diploma in food and wine
A three term diploma from the world renowned Leiths school of food and wine provides students with a sound and broad understanding of food, wine and restaurant business management, through practical sessions and tests.
What is expected of chefs?
Typically, chefs will be expected to commit to the following;
- Long hours – It’s not uncommon for chefs to work 12-hour shifts, covering both lunch and dinner services
- Regular evening or weekend work – In line with venue opening times
- Location – Normally based at a restaurant or catering venue
- Physical demands including being on your feet for extended periods of time in a hot kitchen
- Uniform – Chefs will normally have to wear chef whites, or a similar outfit provided by the employer
Chefs usually work in restaurants or private companies so have access to a number of benefits, including things like:
- Training and development
- Optional pension plans
- Medical insurance
- Free meals during shifts
- Corporate discounts (in bigger organisations)
Who employs chefs?
Chefs can be employed anywhere food is being prepared and served to paying customers.
Restaurants are the most common employer, but there are a range of industries that need help with catering.
Typical chef employers include:
- Pubs and gastropubs
- Education settings like schools, colleges and universities
- Healthcare settings like hospitals and residential homes
- The Armed Forces
- Private catering companies
- Cruise ships
- Office complexes with onsite catering
- Wealthy individuals and families
Which junior jobs progress to chef roles?
The career pathway to becoming a chef is linear, with most employees in the industry holding these roles before becoming a chef.
The commis chef is the most junior member of the food preparation team, and usually assists a chef de partie on a specific section. They will help with preparing and cooking elements of dishes.
Chef de partie
Also known as a station chef or line cook, the chef de partie is responsible for the running of one section of the kitchen, for example the grill or the fry. They can also be in charge of the preparation and cooking of one core ingredient such as fish or vegetables.
The sous chef is the kitchen’s second in command, and assists with the running of the entire service. They are more hands on than the head chef in terms of food preparation, but will be starting to learn more about operations and administration.
Which senior jobs do chefs progress to?
Chefs or head chefs have many options for career progression both inside and outside the kitchen.
The executive or group chef is the highest rung in the kitchen hierarchy, and is a predominantly management role. Executive chefs may oversee the operations of multiple restaurants or venues, and focus more on menu design and the restaurant’s than actual cooking.
The restaurant manager role is responsible for overseeing the operations of both front of house and kitchen teams. They report to a general manager or owner, and can manage large teams of staff and operational budgets for the entire venue.
Chef job description – conclusion
Working as a chef can be a highly rewarding career path, bringing together a passion for cooking and working within a tight-knit team.
It is also an in-demand role with plenty of opportunities to constantly learn and improve skills and techniques.