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Head Chef

Lead and supervise a commercial kitchen, from menu design to management of a chef team.

What's it like to be a Head Chef?

A Head Chef is a senior chef who is the leader of a kitchen, usually in a small to medium-sized business.

Tasks and duties

  • Plan, design and cost menus, liaise with supplier and manage kitchen budgets.
  • Supervise kitchen staff and resolve issues as they arise.
  • Work closely with restaurant manager, chef team and customer service to ensure the business runs smoothly.

Head Chefs usually take on a supervisory role within the kitchen, which means that they have significant duties beyond food preparation.

A Head Chef is similar to an Executive Chef, and it is unlikely that a Head Chef and an Executive Chef would be working within the same kitchen.

What can I earn as a Head Chef?

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The most common salary for a Head Chef is between $55k and $65k
Source: SEEK job ads

How to become a Head Chef

SEEK Learning
To become a Head Chef in Australia, you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in cooking while also gaining a TAFE qualification in cookery. Employers generally require that you have completed year 10.
  1. Complete an apprenticeship or traineeship. Full-time apprenticeships usually last for 36 months. Concurrently, complete a qualification in cooking, such as a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (or equivalent).
  2. Once you’ve gained your qualification, ensure you have a food safety supervisor certificate.
  3. Work your way up the kitchen ladder to become a Commis Chef, then Chef de Partie, Sous Chef and then a Head Chef.

Explore commercial cookery qualifications

Find a course in commercial cookery to get started on your path to becoming a Head Chef.

20 institutions offering this qualification
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Source: SEEK job ads and SEEK Profile data

What skills are employers looking for?

Employers want:

  • Communication skills
  • Innovation
  • Team work
  • Food safety supervisor certificate
  • Menu planning & costing

Shortlisted applicants:

  • People management
  • Integrity
  • Time management
  • Team work
  • Creative thinking
Source: SEEK job ads and SEEK Profile data

How do Head Chefs rate their role?

Latest reviews from 52 Head Chefs surveyed on SEEK

Work-life balance
3.4
Job satisfaction
4.1
Career progression opportunities
3.9
Job security
4.0
Pay / Salary
3.4
Variety of work
4.2

Latest reviews

AllPositiveNegative
Nov 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
city and guilds
Experience
5 – 9 years
Organisation size
Medium (20-199 employees)
Specialisation
chef vegan
The good things
great to meet people,try food and drink from around the world. always find work any were in the world
The challenges
always dealing with other staff problems. long days and very stressful. but if it goes well very rewarding.
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
chef hospitallity 3
Experience
10+ years
Organisation size
Small (1-19 employees)
The good things
Its interesting to reflect about my role as head chef . I have worked many kitchens as head chef and theres not one i didnt enjoy . Being a chef is a lifestye choice You have to like socalising late a...
The challenges
Long hours , night work .split shifts weekend work .... expect plenty .your weekend will more than likely be monday tuesday finding the right workers for your kitchen will be difficult Some chefs have...
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Teaching Diploma
Experience
10+ years
Organisation size
Medium (20-199 employees)
Specialisation
Teaching
The good things
I have the opportunity to pass on my many years of trial and error.
The challenges
I find the modern day employee is not very loyal and generally always looking for a larger salary.
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Master of accounting
Experience
5 – 9 years
Organisation size
Medium (20-199 employees)
The good things
Very exciting role with a full freedom to showcase your food talent and skill.
The challenges
It’s a very challenging role but nevertheless very rewarding
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine
Experience
5 – 9 years
Organisation size
Large (200+ employees)
Specialisation
Bulk catering
The good things
Depending on area you are in it’s great when given tasks that show off your hidden talents. In most cases staff are generally well natured and fun to work with. Job satisfaction when recognised for ...
The challenges
Long hours always on your feet. Pay rates are not great unless you land yourself a great package deal. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of doing repetitive work.
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Certificate IV in Hospitality
Experience
5 – 9 years
Organisation size
Small (1-19 employees)
Specialisation
Hospitality
The good things
Learning something new everyday, overcoming my own flaws and learning from my mistakes when new to the role. Coming to the understanding that the job is about passion, pride in your work, learning fro...
The challenges
Initially the pressure of making budget, doing a proper stocktake, politcs (unhappy staff can really cause issues), managing people, understanding the difference between working to improve the busines...
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
head chef
Experience
10+ years
Organisation size
Large (200+ employees)
The good things
working aged care the hours are great the work is pretty basic cooking with no stress
The challenges
working with people who are unskilled
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Commercial cookery 3
Experience
10+ years
Organisation size
Medium (20-199 employees)
The good things
Challenging yet fulfilling role, lots of pressure to perform tasks and have consistency everyday. Freedom of expression in food and ingredients is rewarding and mentoring aspiring youth into competent...
The challenges
Challenging in ordering, menu planning, staying with current trends, adhering to budgets with staff rostering,food costing. Liasing with suppliers, management and potential clients. Large commitment t...
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Trade certificate lll commercial cookery
Experience
10+ years
Organisation size
Small (1-19 employees)
Specialisation
Hospitality
The good things
My role as a head chef is exciting some day never a dull moment always busy and satisfying and can be stressful at times
The challenges
Must be organised, good team work environment, communication skills, and remain calm in stressful times
Oct 2018
Reviewer's Qualification
Diploma of Accounting
Experience
5 – 9 years
Organisation size
Large (200+ employees)
The good things
If you are passionate about cooking it can be an exceptionally rewarding experience and career. You can never out of work. You can get work anywhere including overseas.
The challenges
There are many challenges being Head Chef. It is very high responsibility and sometimes can be stressful. You have to get the job done regardless of what's optical. Sometimes can take a lot out of you...
Source: SEEK Role Reviews

Working hours for Head Chefs

Overtime
Weekends
Shift work
Late nights
Often
Sometimes
Never
Source: SEEK Role Reviews from 52 Head Chefs

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