How to Hire an Executive Chef

Does your growing hospitality business need an executive chef? Executive chefs manage everything from menus and inventory to daily kitchen operations.

Here are some tips to help you find great executive chef candidates and make the right hire for your business.

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Executive chefs searching for jobs on Indeed*

69,174

Job seekers that clicked on executive chef jobs

2,034

Total number of employers with active jobs

4,280

Executive chef jobs that received clicks

What is the cost of hiring?

  • Common salary in US: $63,381 yearly
  • Typical salaries range from $20,000$130,000 yearly
  • Find more information on Indeed Salary

*Indeed data (US) – March 2021

As of March 2021, executive chef jobs in the U.S. are very competitive compared to other job markets, with an average of 16 job seekers per job. 

Why hire an executive chef?

The need for new staff can affect both your existing team and your bottom line. A great executive chef hire can help your business:

• Develop menus, pricing and plating experience
• Handle all purchases of food, kitchen supplies and dining features
• Hire, train and maintain a knowledgeable kitchen staff

What are the ranks of executive chefs?

An executive chef oversees kitchen staff in restaurants, hotels, senior living facilities and on cruise ships. Many executive chefs start their careers at lower ranks and work their way up to executive and supervisory levels. Here are the most common ranks of chefs from lowest to highest. 

  • Line cook: Line cooks assist head and executive chefs with prep work such as cleaning and chopping vegetables. They plate meals for servers to bring to customers, and they’re sometimes responsible for preparing appetizers and desserts. 
  • Sous chef: A sous chef or second chef oversees kitchen assistants and line cooks. They prepare menu items per head chef instructions, and they assist head chefs with the preparation of main courses. Sous chefs handle kitchen closing duties, and they perform side work tasks such as stocking ingredients for the chefs on the next shift.
  • Executive chef:  An executive chef, also referred to as a head chef, oversees the entire kitchen staff. They create and prepare original recipes for menu items, and they delegate food prep tasks to sous chefs. Executive chefs are sometimes responsible for hiring kitchen employees, and they order supplies from restaurant vendors. 

Where to find executive chefs

To find the right executive chef for your business, consider trying out a few different recruiting strategies. 

  • Hire from within. If you currently run a busy restaurant or cafe, it’s a good place to start looking for an executive chef. Consider moving your sous chef up a position, or think about training a current line cook or kitchen assistant for the job.
  • Browse social media sites. In today’s digital world, many chefs post their recipe creations on social media pages. Conduct a search for chefs on some of the popular platforms to find candidates.
  • Post a help wanted sign in your restaurant window. In many cases, a help wanted sign is the only tool a restaurant owner needs to find candidates, as it makes it easy for customers who frequent your restaurant to apply.
  • Post your job online. Try posting your executive chef job on Indeed to find and attract quality executive chef candidates. 

What are the ranks of executive chefs?

An executive chef oversees kitchen staff in restaurants, hotels, senior living facilities and on cruise ships. Many executive chefs start their careers at lower ranks and work their way up to executive and supervisory levels. Here are the most common ranks of chefs from lowest to highest. 

  • Line cook: Line cooks assist head and executive chefs with prep work such as cleaning and chopping vegetables. They plate meals for servers to bring to customers, and they’re sometimes responsible for preparing appetizers and desserts. 
  • Sous chef: A sous chef or second chef oversees kitchen assistants and line cooks. They prepare menu items per head chef instructions, and they assist head chefs with the preparation of main courses. Sous chefs handle kitchen closing duties, and they perform side work tasks such as stocking ingredients for the chefs on the next shift.
  • Executive chef:  An executive chef, also referred to as a head chef, oversees the entire kitchen staff. They create and prepare original recipes for menu items, and they delegate food prep tasks to sous chefs. Executive chefs are sometimes responsible for hiring kitchen employees, and they order supplies from restaurant vendors. 

Writing an executive chef job description

A thoughtful description is important in finding qualified executive chef candidates. An executive chef job description includes a compelling summary of the role, a detailed list of duties and responsibilities and the required and preferred skills for the position.

When writing your executive chef job description, consider including some or all of the following keywords to improve the visibility of your job posting. These are the most popular search terms leading to clicks on executive chef jobs, according to Indeed data. 

  • Executive chef
  • Chef
  • Food service director
  • Chef manager
  • Culinary
  • Private chef
  • Restaurant
  • Kitchen manager
  • Food service manager
  • Food service

Interviewing executive chef candidates

Strong candidates for executive chef positions will be confident answering questions regarding:

• Demonstrated ability to develop a successful kitchen menu
• Maintaining kitchen inventory and purchasing without waste
• Creating regular, delicious recipes that appeal to diners

Need help coming up with interview questions? See our list of executive chef interview questions for examples (with sample answers).

FAQs about how to hire an executive chef

What does an executive chef wear?

Executive chefs are typically required to wear uniforms that consist of dark-colored or black pants that are different from the uniforms line cooks and sous chefs wear. This helps distinguish the position from other kitchen staff. A chef’s coat or apron may also be required, and hair coverings must be worn per local and state laws. 

How do I keep my executive chef happy?

A few ways to keep your executive chef happy include keeping the kitchen well-stocked to prevent problems during busy times, providing positive encouragement on new recipe ideas and making sure the kitchen is fully staffed. You can also conduct periodic check-ins to ensure kitchen employees are supporting the executive chef and performing their job duties as instructed. 

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