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Chef Salary Range

Posted by: Ira Sider, July 07, 2012

Chefs hold a unique position because of the number of levels that go along with this career. While all chefs are people who make food or manage food preparation for a living, the exact way in which this is done varies dramatically. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs make, on average, $40,630 annually. However, this number changes quite a bit when other factors are taken into consideration.

There are a number of factors that go into determining a chef salary. First, and perhaps most important, is the level of the person in the kitchen. The higher up a person is in the kitchen, the more likely they are to have an increased base pay. Experience is another major factor in determining how much a professional in this career will make. And finally, determining the exact title of the person will show how much he or she will likely earn.

  • Executive – This is the head cook in the kitchen and the person in charge of creating menus and recipes and ensuring the food that arrives on the customer’s table is up to snuff each and every time. Because people in this position do not always actually make the food, but instead are the ones who manage the people who are doing the cooking, they typically make more, as there is more responsibility on their shoulders. People in this position can make between $50,000 and $85,000 annually. This is dependent on the size and quality of the restaurant.
  • Sous – This is the person who is second in command in the kitchen and who takes over when the head cook is not around. This person holds the same responsibilities as far as the quality of food preparation when he or she is managing the kitchen. The starting salary for this position is $35,000 to $40,000. As the person becomes more experienced, he or she has the opportunity to run his or her own kitchen or receive a raise.
  • Assistant – Different than the sous chef, this person helps the executive of the kitchen in planning menus and ordering enough food to be prepared for each day. This person must be well versed in the workings of the kitchen and be familiar with the creations of the head cook so that he or she can develop menu items to complement these dishes. The starting salary of the assistant in the kitchen is approximately $35,000. However, this number can increase as one becomes more experienced.

The pay levels of each of these various types of chefs change depending on their experience, as well as their level in a specific kitchen. Because kitchens themselves vary in size, the number of restaurant employees and the number of customers being served each day determines how much a chef will make. 


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