In Summary - Chef
Chefs typically work in the following Career Sectors:
Videos & Interviews
David Kehoe, Chef
David Kehoe is the Executive Head Chef in the Tower Hotel in Dublin. When he completed his Leaving Cert he went to study in Athlone IT on a 2 year fulltime professional cookery course. He also is qualified in HACCP (Food Safety Mgmt) up until management level. He was one of the chef presenters on "Corrigan Knows Food", which was on RTÉ1 television.
Videos on the Web
- Chef- from: Youtube Search
The Work - Chef
Chefs work in all kinds of places, from pubs to cruise liners. In general, those working in a hotel or restaurant kitchen are called chefs (those in schools and colleges, business canteens or hospitals are cooks). Their job is to prepare and cook meals.
The Head Chef (Chef Patron) is responsible for the running of the whole kitchen. In some kitchens (for example, in a small pub) the chef might work alone or with the help of only one or two staff. But some kitchens (e.g. in major hotels) are huge, and might have dozens of staff, with a number of specialist chefs working under a head chef.
Chefs may specialise in an area of cooking such as preparing and cooking vegetables (Chef entremettier) or pastry preparation (Chef pastissier). Others may specialise in a type of cooking such as Thai, vegetarian or seafood.
Chefs also have ranks. Starting with the trainee chef; the Commis chef (assistant); the Chef de partie (section leader); the Sous chef (deputy head) and the Chef de cuisine (head chef) all the way up to Executive Chef.
Executive Chef - The most senior role within any kitchen. This is the person responsible for all aspects of the kitchen, for all the kitchen staff and who is ultimately responsible for their own and their staff’s key performance indicators.
Head Chef - In smaller business the Head Chef is analogous to an Executive Chef. In larger and more complex catering operations this position is immediately beneath the Executive Chef.
Sous Chef - Operating immediately above Chef De Partie level and reporting directly to, according to context, either a Head Chef, or Executive Chef the Sous Chef’s responsibilities are an almost equal distribution of the operational and the supervisory.
Chef De Partie - responsible for a specific section within the kitchen and while this job is overwhelmingly operational in larger kitchens it often involves a supervisory component too.
The higher-ranking chefs may also have other duties, including things like book-keeping, organising training and stock control. Menu planning and recruitment will normally be jobs for the head chef. The chefs at the lower end, especially the trainees, will do a lot of the preparation of food, as well as tasks such as cleaning floors and emptying rubbish bins.
In a small kitchen, where there are only one or two chefs, they will tend to do all the preparation and cook a range of dishes, right through from starters to sweets. They will also do more of the administration.
Regardless of the kind of food outlet, it is the menu and the standard of cooking that will make people want to eat there. So chefs need to be aware of current eating trends, food fashions and nutritional information, to put together menus that will attract customers.
Chefs are responsible for ensuring that the food is maintained at a high quality and looks appetising to the customer. They must also have full knowledge of the regulations and law surrounding food preparation and hygiene as well as observing health and safety procedures.
Related career opportunities in the food sector include restaurant management, food promotion, writing, styling, and product development.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Monitor sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.
- Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
- Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
- Instruct cooks or other workers in the preparation, cooking, garnishing, or presentation of food.
- Supervise or coordinate activities of cooks or workers engaged in food preparation.
- Inspect supplies, equipment, or work areas to ensure conformance to established standards.
- Order or requisition food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
- Determine production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
- Check the quantity and quality of received products.
- Determine how food should be presented and create decorative food displays.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Training and Teaching Others Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Coaching and Developing Others Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Developing and Building Teams Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
Interests - Chef
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalist's interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.
Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results and prefer action to talking and discussing.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Creative people are drawn to careers and activities that enable them to take responsibility for the design, layout or sensory impact of something (visual, auditory etc). They may be atrracted to the traditional artistic pursuits such as painting, sculpture, singing, or music. Or they may show more interest in design activities, such as architecture, animation, or craft areas, such as pottery and ceramics.
Creative people use their personal understanding of people and the world they live in to guide their work. Creative people like to work in unstructured workplaces, enjoy taking risks and prefer a minimum of routine.
Kitchens are hot, busy and noisy (especially the big ones where lots of people are shouting instructions at once). Head chefs usually demand very high standards of work from their staff.
To do this job, you'll need to enjoy cooking, cope with the heat, have a lot of stamina and be able to stay calm under pressure. You'll also need to be well organised and quick thinking. And you'll need to take a long-term view because the training can be long - you'll generally get the chance to do the more creative aspects of cookery only when you have enough experience.
Team work skills are important as you will have to work in conjunction with senior and junior chefs, there must also be good communication between the waiting staff and chefs/cooks to ensure a proper service. You need to be able to give clear instructions to others, as well as take instruction well yourself.
If you are managing other chefs/cooks you should have skills in communication, leadership, teamwork, problem-solving and dispute resolution. You must be able motivate staff to work precisely and consistently. A cheerful but firm, authoritative manner is necessary. You need to be able to work within agreed budgets, time frames and to plan and prioritise work.
Entry Requirements - Chef
The official entry route for a Chef is through undertaking an apprenticeship.
To become a chef you need to do a full-time college course, or find a kitchen to take you as a trainee, with day or block release college course.
At further education level, QQI Level 5 Certificate courses are available in Culinary Arts, Professional Cookery and Hotel and Catering
Courses are available at Level 6, 7 and 8 at a number of the Institutes of Technology in Culinary Arts, Culinary Studies, and Professional Culinary Practice. Courses may be two-year higher certificate level, 3-year ordinary Level or four-year honours degree level 8.
Culinary Arts courses combine all aspects of practical cookery tuition with academic subjects such as Food Science, Product Development, and Entrepreneurial Studies.
After qualification, most chefs take a job in a kitchen and work their way up the ranks. Progression, requires hard work and dedication.
Chefs have a rigid career ladder: Trainee chef; Commis chef (assistant); Chef de partie (section leader); Sous chef (deputy head), Chef de cuisine (head chef) and Executive Chef (Chef Patron).
There are hundreds of courses available across Ireland to help you get started in the Tourism and Hospitality Sector. If full-time education doesn’t suit, you can also avail of some great apprenticeship programmes in the industry.
New Traineeship programmes have been introduced this year to address the increasing demand for chefs in the Irish context. IT Tralee now offer the National Traineeship in Professional Cookery. Like an apprenticeship, this is a Day Release Programme over 2 years (NFQ Level 6). The traineeship is designed to enable chefs to learn on the job while formalising their training on a day release basis in college. You must be in current employment or gain employment in an approved hotel, bar or restaurant prior to commencing the programme. Trainees who successfully complete the programme will be eligible to apply for year two of a relevant Higher Certificate or BA in Culinary Arts programme where available. Institutes of Technology registration criteria apply.
Private courses include the Professional Three Month Certificate Cookery Course run by Dublin Cookery School,Blackrock which is widely recognised as a credible and practical route to acquiring the expertise and skills needed to pursue a career in the food industry.
Last Updated: March, 2016
Pay & Salary - Chef
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 18k - 90k
Executive Head Chef: 60 - 90
Head Chef: 48 - 80
Sous Chef: 40 - 48
Pastry Chef: 28 - 36
Chef de Partie: 28 - 36
Commis Chef 4th Year : 24 - 26
Commis Chef: 18.5 - 22
Tourism Insight 2016 Figures: Chef 20k - 75k
Excel Recruitment Hotel and Catering Salary Survey 2019
Last Updated: May, 2019
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Chef
Employment growth was high for this occupation; while chefs are employed across a variety of sectors, issues in attracting chefs relate to the hospitality sector. Employment permits have been expanded to allow for certain chef occupations. There is also evidence of issues with retention for entry level chefs. There has been a substantial increase in supply in recent years (+80% compared to 2012) but this has not been sufficient to offset demand.
National Skills Bulletin 2018
Useful Contacts - Chef
Restaurant's Association of Ireland
Irish Hotels Federation
Dublin Cookery School