Executive Chef Salary Overview

Becoming a well known or highly desired food expert takes years of experience, plenty of creativity, self confidence, and a willingness to take risks, to some extent. There are many talented chefs around the world, who keep restaurant patrons coming back again and again. But, the role of the lead chef requires a balance of skill sets, including the ability to manage the kitchen staff and other aspects of maintaining the kitchen properly.


The executive chef salary will be based on several factors, such as education, experience, size of the restaurant or eating establishment, and the region where the chef is working. Education and training is often required in a formal setting, for an individual to become a head chef in a restaurant. There are many culinary programs available through private institutes and public universities. Today, many restaurant owners expect their chefs to have some formal culinary training. A head chef is expected to have formal training, years of cooking and food service experience, as well as some management training.

In today’s economy, a head chef can make from $30,000 to $60,000. Salary will depend on the size of the establishment, the level of experience in food service, and often, the recommendations of previous employers. Those with excellent references are likely to be offered more money than those with years of work history, who have few references or mediocre recommendations. It is expected that as an individual working in this position gains experience, the level of compensation will increase.

However, many organizations, including restaurants, will put raises and salary increases on hold, even for top performers. A person seeking more exposure or higher earnings may gain experience in a smaller establishment, then seek new opportunities in a larger restaurant. Timing, experience, and willingness to take on new roles will affect the chef’s ability to move up and earn more money as he or she progresses.

Learning new skills is not just for newcomers. this applies to any profession. A person looking to take on the roll of a head chef will need to be willing to learn other areas of restaurant management, such as controlling costs, working within budgets, considering new menu items, and learning new ways of cooking. These are skills best learned from other professionals working in the restaurant industry and are often acquired best, through hands on experience. Theory and concepts of management may be taught in culinary programs, but it doesn’t take the place of acquiring real world experience.

There are many ways to become a head chef in a popular restaurant. Working hard, gaining new experience, and showing a willingness to take on additional roles is one way. Another way is to take courses in restaurant management, even if a culinary program has already been completed.

Even with the right education, there are additional skills that must be developed, like time management, creativity with menus, understanding current trends in food preferences and desirable menu items, and being able to understand local markets. A head chef can do well, with a positive outlook and the willingness to learn and develop additional skills.