Head Chef: job description, salary, training, and latest mission offers
A Head Chef is the culinary leader responsible for overseeing kitchen operations in a restaurant, hotel, or catering service.
They play a pivotal role in the culinary world, being accountable for various aspects of food preparation, presentation, and quality control. It takes a significant amount of hard work to become a Head Chef, especially for those who have advanced through the ranks, starting from positions such as Assistant Head Chef or Sous Chef.
Head Chef: job description
Head Chef job descriptions outline that they are responsible for managing multiple tasks, not just those related to the kitchen.
While a Sous Chef may oversee daily kitchen operations, the Head Chef holds overall responsibility. On any given day, their role involves quality control, team management, training and development, health and safety, financial responsibilities, menu development, liaising with suppliers, and coordinating with other staff outside the kitchen.
Additionally, there may be opportunities for cooking, depending on the Head Chef's desire for hands-on involvement and available time.
What are the responsibilities and duties of a Head Chef?
The responsibilities and duties of a Head Chef are diverse and demanding. They include:
- Menu development: Head Chefs, alongside Sous Chefs, are responsible for creating menus that ensure a balance of flavors and a variety of dishes. While menus might be fixed in chain restaurants to align with budgetary guidelines and brand consistency, in other settings, there is the opportunity to create a new menu daily.
- Kitchen staff management: Overseeing the entire kitchen staff, including Sous Chefs, Chefs de Partie, Line Cooks (or Demi Chef de Partie), and Kitchen Porters.
- Quality control: Ensuring that every dish leaving the kitchen meets quality standards is a top priority, even with a Sous Chef to check dishes.
- Training and supervision: Head Chefs are responsible for training and supervising their team, aiding in the development of their culinary skills, and ensuring adherence to health and safety, hygiene, and other mandatory training.
- Inventory and budget management: Managing suppliers and ingredients, controlling costs, and staying within budgetary constraints are vital for any kitchen's profitability.
- Food safety and hygiene: Enforcing strict food safety and hygiene standards to maintain a clean and safe kitchen environment is essential to avoid risking a low rating.
- Customer satisfaction: Ultimately, Head Chefs work diligently to ensure diners have a memorable experience and that the kitchen lives up to its standards and reputation.
What qualities define a Head Chef?
Successful Head Chefs possess a unique set of qualities:
- Creativity: The ability to innovate and create new dishes and menus.
- Leadership: Strong leadership skills are necessary to manage and motivate kitchen staff.
- Culinary Skills: Exceptional culinary skills and knowledge of various cuisines are essential.
- Organization: Excellent organizational skills are crucial for efficient kitchen management.
- Stress Management: The capacity to handle high-pressure situations calmly is vital.
- Adaptability: Being adaptable to changing culinary trends and customer preferences.
The latest mission offers for Head Chefs across London
If you're a Head Chef seeking short-term work and flexibility, follow these three simple steps to begin receiving mission proposals:
- Register as self-employed Head Chef before signing up for Brigad.
- Download the app and sign up in minutes; it's free, and there's no commitment required.
- Create and personalize your profile to start receiving mission proposals. You're free to decide whether to accept or decline them.
How to find a Head Chef with Brigad ?
Finding a qualified Head Chef is a difficult task. It becomes even more challenging when you need to hire a Head Chef with the right experience, capable of operating as a skilled manager and creating amazing dishes in a busy restaurant environment.
To find a qualified Head Chef with the Brigad app, 3 steps are sufficient:
- Create an account on the Brigad app or website (free registration and no commitment)
- Set up your missions in a few clicks specify the required skills, dress code, equipment, duration, payment method, and more.
- Submit your mission and let the algorithm handle the rest!
Once you set up a mission, it's sent to talents with the relevant skills in your area.
When a talent accepts, you'll be notified and can then connect with them directly.
All talents undergo a strict vetting process to ensure the best match.
UK companies that are hiring Head Chefs through Brigad
Trusted by over 10,000 businesses to reinforce their teams, Brigad is widely used by both large groups and independent businesses in every sector of the hospitality industry.
The platform offers a connection with thousands of highly qualified, self-employed hospitality professionals such as Head Chefs.
UK Head Chef salary ranges
The salary of a Head Chef in the UK varies depending on factors such as experience, location, and the type of establishment. In larger cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham, and in chain restaurants and hotels, Head Chefs typically earn more than those working in smaller pubs or restaurants in the countryside.
On average, a Head Chef can earn anywhere from £29,000 to £37,000, often including bonuses and benefits. More experienced Head Chefs in prominent establishments can earn up to £42,000.
How to become a Head Chef?
Becoming a Head Chef is a dream for many individuals working in restaurants or hotel kitchens as Line Cooks, Crew Member, or Pastry Chef. This goal is achieved through hard work and proving oneself in the culinary field. Professional, accredited qualifications, such as The Diploma in Professional Cookery, can be beneficial, although it's also possible to work up the ranks without formal training.
More chefs are now earning qualifications to better understand the business aspect of the profession.
After progressing to the position of Sous Chef, demonstrating the necessary skills, competencies, aptitudes, and culinary flair is crucial to be considered for a Head Chef role.
Equally important is the ability to create menus that resonate with customers, manage and train staff, and select ingredients that align with both the menu and budgetary constraints of the kitchen’s culinary creations.
When all these skills are mastered and a Head Chef position becomes available, whether in the current establishment, elsewhere, or through new opportunities like those offered by Brigad, it marks the right time to take the next step in one's career.
How to become a freelance Head Chef?
To become a freelance Head Chef, follow these essential steps:
- Register as a Sole Trader with HMRC: This is a crucial first step, requiring minimal paperwork and enabling legal self-employment.
- Obtain a UTR Number from HMRC: Secure your Unique Taxpayer Reference number, necessary for tax purposes and identification as a sole trader.
- Meet Eligibility Requirements: Ensure you're eligible for self-employment in the UK, especially important for non-EU international students who may face restrictions.
- Manage Your Tax Affairs: Be responsible for submitting an annual self-assessment tax return based on your income and expenses.
- Maintain Accurate Financial Records: Keep detailed records of all your income and expenses for tax purposes.
- Understand Tax Obligations: Familiarise yourself with tax bands and VAT requirements as they apply to self-employed professionals.
As a self-employed Head Chef, you have the opportunity to explore diverse working options. This includes the ability to combine freelance projects with long-term contracts, providing a varied and dynamic career path. You also enjoy significant work flexibility, allowing you to select your work schedule and locations that best align with your personal goals and preferences.
Additionally, it's important to stay informed by regularly consulting official government resources for any updates or new information related to self-employment.
Why choose the position of Head Chef ?
Being a Head Chef comes with perks, such as a higher salary than in more junior roles, creative fulfillment, and the prospect of more exciting opportunities in the future.
However, as many new Head Chefs soon learn, the role involves more than just cooking and creating culinary masterpieces. It comes with long hours, stress, and a focus on the financial aspects of the kitchen, including budgets, wages, and profit margins. The position of Head Chef is managerial in nature.
The key to keeping any kitchen operational for an establishment is ensuring it turns a profit, which means spending more time looking at spreadsheets than in any previous kitchen role.
What are the working conditions for a Head Chef ?
Working conditions for Head Chefs vary depending on the establishment. They often work long hours, and it’s not unusual for them to work from before the kitchen opens until after it closes, sometimes for 12 or more hours a day.
Weekend work is frequently required, as that’s when restaurants, pubs, and hotel F&B operations are usually busiest, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
It’s important for Head Chefs to have a real passion for the job, encompassing not only food and cooking but also managerial aspects. These include juggling budgets, hiring, training, and supporting staff, working with suppliers, and coordinating with other front-of-house teams as needed, such as the Restaurant Manager, Front of House Manager, or Bar Manager.
Typical working hours of a Head Chef
Head Chefs are well aware that their work often involves long, irregular, and unsociable hours, which are common in the hospitality sector.
For those who have been in this line of work for several years, the desire for a change of pace, more flexibility, and a better work-life balance (to avoid consistently finishing work at midnight or later) might arise.
Brigad offers a solution, connecting Chefs with missions that better suit their desired lifestyle and earnings as self-employed Head Chefs.
What career progression is possible for a Head Chef ?
Career progression for a Head Chef can take several paths, offering opportunities for both professional growth and diversification within the culinary industry. Here are some potential avenues:
- Executive Chef: This is a step up from the Head Chef role, often involving overseeing multiple restaurants in a chain or hotels, setting overall culinary standards, and having a more strategic role in menu development and business aspects.
- Restaurant owner or Entrepreneur: Many Head Chefs aspire to open their own restaurant or food-related business, leveraging their culinary skills and industry knowledge to establish a unique dining experience.
- Culinary Director: In this role, a chef moves beyond kitchen operations to a more administrative position, overseeing the culinary aspects of large corporations, hotel chains, or restaurant groups.
- Consultant Chef: Some Head Chefs transition into consultancy, offering their expertise to help new restaurants with menu design, kitchen layout, staff training, and operational efficiency.
- Television or Media Chef: With the growing popularity of cooking shows and food-related media, skilled chefs can become personalities or experts on television, in online platforms, or in print media.
- Culinary Educator or Trainer: Teaching at a culinary school or conducting workshops and classes can be a rewarding career path, passing on skills and knowledge to the next generation of chefs.
- Research and Development Chef: Working for food manufacturers or large restaurant chains, R&D chefs focus on developing new products, recipes, and techniques.
- Food Stylist or Writer: Combining culinary skills with creativity, some chefs move into food styling for photography or writing cookbooks and culinary articles.
Each of these paths offers unique challenges and rewards, allowing Head Chefs to leverage their experience, creativity, and leadership skills in various sectors of the food and hospitality industry.
Head Chef Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions about being a head chef.
What’s the difference between a Head Chef and an Executive Chef?
The terms "Head Chef" and "Executive Chef" are often used interchangeably, but there are some distinctions between the two roles.
A Head Chef is typically responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of a single kitchen, such as a restaurant or hotel. They oversee menu creation, supervise kitchen staff, maintain food quality, and handle kitchen logistics. Head Chefs usually report to the restaurant or kitchen manager.
On the other hand, an Executive Chef usually has more responsibility in a larger restaurant chain or F&B operation. Executive chefs usually oversee multiple kitchens within a restaurant group, hotel chain, or catering company. Executive Chefs are responsible for setting the culinary direction, standardizing menus, managing budgets, and ensuring quality and consistency across all outlets. They often have a more strategic and managerial role within the culinary hierarchy.
While both Head Chefs and Executive Chefs are culinary leaders, the key difference lies in the scale and scope of their responsibilities, with the Executive Chef overseeing a larger culinary operation. Smaller restaurants don’t normally have an executive chef, with the head chef being in overall charge of the kitchen or kitchens.
What is the difference between a Head Chef and a Sous Chef?
A Sous Chef usually works under a head chef, having a more hands-on role with cooking, food presentation, quality control, training, and managing staff. Head chefs are more managerial, although they often play an active role in kitchens and are supported by a skilled sous chef.
Do Head Chefs actually cook?
In many cases, it depends on how hands-on or not a head chef wants to be. Or how small the kitchen operations and staff levels are and how competent the team a head chef is working with. Some prefer to leave the cooking to a sous chef and the team, whereas others want to put their personal, signature touch to every dish that leaves their kitchen.