Executive Chef Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

An Executive Chef, or Head Chef, is responsible for overseeing kitchen staff and ensuring the quality of food items. Their duties include hiring and training staff to cook their dishes, expediting orders to maintain a steady flow of dishes and creating dishes to add to the menu.

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Executive Chef duties and responsibilities

Executive Chefs complete a variety of creative, organizational and leadership tasks to ensure a kitchen runs optimally and patrons’ meals are satisfactory. Their responsibilities frequently include:

  • Developing unique and cuisine-appropriate menus
  • Collaborating with the Restaurant Manager to set item prices
  • Staying current on developing trends in the restaurant industry 
  • Maintaining the kitchen and surrounding areas in conditions that meet the company standards and health code regulations
  • Monitoring inventory and purchasing supplies and food from approved vendors
  • Hiring, training and supervising kitchen staff
  • Assisting and directing kitchen staff in meal preparation, creation, plating and delivery
  • Identifying and introducing new culinary techniques
  • Preparing meals and completing prep support as needed
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What does an Executive Chef do?

Executive Chefs typically work for restaurants, but they can also work for catering businesses or private households. They use their culinary expertise and leadership abilities to maintain a clean and orderly kitchen environment. Their job is to promote food safety by teaching their staff about proper storage and shelf-life. They may also travel to meet with potential food suppliers and check the quality of their produce.

Executive Chef skills and qualifications

Executive Chefs use a variety of culinary skills and soft skills to lead kitchens and provide excellent meal service to patrons. These skills include:

  • Expert knowledge of the restaurant or organization’s cuisine
  • Advanced culinary skills including food preparation, flavor pairings and other cooking best practices
  • Ability to develop unique recipes
  • Current knowledge of trends in the restaurant industry
  • In-depth knowledge of federal, state and local food handling regulations
  • Comfortable training, directing and supervising kitchen staff
  • Exceptional leadership skills, including motivation and goal-setting
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Time management and organization

Executive Chef salary expectations

An Executive Chef makes an average of $66,177 per year. Salary may depend on a candidate’s level of experience, education and geographical location.

Executive Chef education and training

Most Executive Chef candidates have completed a professional certification, diploma or degree in culinary arts, culinary science or pastry arts from a culinary school or technical college. Other candidates have completed their education through specialized apprenticeship or training programs, often those that teach both the basics of culinary creation and of a specific cuisine or cooking style. In addition to education, many candidates earn a ServSafe certification that demonstrates their understanding of best practices and regulations for safe food handling practices. 

Executive Chef experience requirements

Depending on your organization, facility or restaurant, the experience required for an Executive Chef may vary. For new, up-and-coming restaurants, an experienced Executive Chef with more than five years of kitchen leadership experience may be desirable. Those looking for new ideas or willing to train the right candidate may consider candidates with less experience in leadership but a few years working as a Sous Chef or other cooking professional. Restaurants in a specialized cuisine or cooking style would benefit from candidates with years of experience and/or training in that cuisine or style.

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Frequently asked questions about Executive Chefs


Is there a difference between an Executive Chef and a Head Chef?

There is technically a difference between the job titles “Executive Chef” and “Head Chef,” but it ultimately depends on the restaurant owner’s preferences or the size of the restaurant. For example, sometimes restaurants only hire an Executive Chef or Head Chef position. In this situation, Executive Chef and Head Chef mean the same thing. In contrast, a restaurant might decide to hire an Executive Chef and a Head Chef. In this situation the roles are different and the Executive Chef has a more senior position. 

The Head Chef leads kitchen staff and works alongside them to cook and prepare orders, while the Executive Chef expedites orders and tastes them before sending them out to the dining area. Further, the Executive Chef focuses on ordering produce and more managerial aspects of the job. They may also teach the Head Chef how to cook and prepare new items so the Head Chef can go on to teach the rest of the staff.


What are the daily duties of an Executive Chef?

On a typical day, an Executive Chef arrives to work early in the morning to receive shipments and store them away. They review inventory lists to make sure they received everything they need and answer emails in the office. The Executive Chef may also use their time before service to experiment with new dishes.

Throughout the day the Executive Chef remains at the expediting counter, tasting dishes before they go out and applying garnishes to each dish. After service ends, they assist the kitchen staff with their chores. They also use this time to go through the storeroom and walk-in freezer. They straighten up the area and make a note of inventory needs.


What qualities make a good Executive Chef?

A good Executive Chef is someone who has a passion for cooking and uses their leadership to enforce quality food production. They also value cleanliness and organization within their kitchen which sets an example for the rest of the staff. Executive Chefs also have excellent customer service skills that help them engage with restaurant-goers and correct dishes to their customers’ liking.


Who does an Executive Chef report to?

An Executive Chef typically reports to the Restaurant Manager or directly to the Restaurant Owner. If the Executive Chef owns the restaurant, then they’re their own boss and only need to ensure that they comply with food laws and regulations. 

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