Head chef

Head chefs oversee restaurants’ staff, food and budgets.

Annual Salary

£16,000 to £50,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

40 or more

What's it all about?

You’ll organise and manage the work of the kitchen staff, decide which tasks need to be done and share these among the team. You’ll also be involved in the some of the preparation and cooking of food.

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • planning menus
  • making sure food is of the right quality and price
  • managing stock
  • ordering food from suppliers
  • controlling a budget and keeping accurate records
  • managing health and hygiene procedures
  • organising the staff duty rota
  • recruiting, training and developing staff

You’ll need:

  • a passion for food
  • experience of running your own section in a professional kitchen
  • a qualification in food safety

Most head chefs work their way up from kitchen assistant to trainee chef, then section chef.

You could prepare for this role by taking a course in professional cookery that combines classroom-based study with practical experience and placements. 

You could also take an advanced level apprenticeship.

The Hospitality Guild has more information about becoming a head chef.

£16,000 to £50,000

Starter salary: £16,000 to £18,000

Experienced salary: £20,000 to £30,000

These figures are a guide.

40 or more

You’ll usually work shifts, involving early mornings and late nights, weekends and public holidays.

Working in a kitchen is hot and humid. You’ll be on your feet most of the time and working under pressure. You’ll also work at a desk when planning menus. 

You’ll wear a uniform and hat for hygiene reasons and protection.

With experience, you could go on to manage larger kitchens and more staff.

You could also set up your own business, running your own restaurant or franchise.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You’ll need:

  • excellent cooking skills
  • leadership and management skills
  • organisational skills
  • the ability to control a budget and work with figures
  • the ability to work under pressure and make quick decisions
  • the ability to stay calm and overcome any food production problems
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