Reality television series often portray famous chefs to be tough, funny, quirky and creative. Although these "made for television" chefs are good in front of the camera, their successes started by combining their personality and drive to make them famous. Any chef can succeed in the profession if his personality matches the qualities needed to do the job.
Because chefs often create food and menus both visibly and tastefully appealing, they must be very creative. Chefs need to be creative to make their cuisine stand out and to attract customers who return to enjoy their food again. Chefs work in very competitive businesses, and to stay ahead of the field, creativity is required.
Leadership and Teamwork
Chefs oversee and direct kitchens, and they direct and hire other food service workers. Food preparation requires teamwork to produce quality dishes in a timely manner to ensure customers' satisfaction. Chefs also oversee the sanitation of the kitchen and ensure that workers are following safety procedures. Without strong leadership skills and working as a team with the entire staff, a chef will not be successful.
No chef can please everyone, so it's crucial for chefs to focus on every customer's request or complaint to keep them as customers. Although chefs create menus to please a variety of customers' tastes and needs, mistakes can happen and customers may complain. Accepting requests and complaints with grace to ensure the customer is satisfied with their experience makes a successful chef.
Chefs often work unusual hours, and in some cases, long hours, because they often work early mornings or late evenings to accommodate customers. Even when chefs aren't working, the best chefs visit other restaurants to learn new cooking styles and tastes. Many chefs continue their education to stay up-to-date, learn about new equipment and cooking skills.
Careers and Salary
Among over 90,000 chefs and head cooks employed in the United States in 2011, the average salary was $46,600 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hourly wages were $22.40 per hour. Although job openings are plentiful in this field, getting jobs in upscale food establishments is competitive.
2016 Salary Information for Chefs and Head Cooks
Chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $43,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, chefs and head cooks earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $59,080, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 146,500 people were employed in the U.S. as chefs and head cooks.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chefs and Head Cooks
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chefs and Head Cooks Occupational Employment and Wages
- Chefs.com: Seven Personality Traits of a Culinary Professional
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chefs and Head Cooks
- Career Trend: Chefs and Head Cooks
Elvis Michael has been writing professionally since 2007, contributing technology articles to various online outlets. He is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in information technology at Northeastern University.