Chefs and Head Cooks Career Video
Description: Direct and may participate in the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts.
Some people think the words "chef" and "cook" mean the same thing, but in the restaurant world, there's a big difference. Chefs are more highly skilled and better trained than most cooks, and have more responsibility for designing the meals that make a restaurant's reputation. But it's not just about the food. This job requires good organizational and management skills. Sometimes called a head cook, the chef supervises the entire kitchen staff and keeps track of supplies and schedules. A chef should have a highly refined and inventive sense of taste. He or she creates the menu items and often prices them too. Advancing in this field may depend as much on limiting food costs and supervising less-skilled workers, as it does on creating a memorable menu. To keep things running smoothly in a hot, noisy kitchen, chefs need to be expert multi-taskers. The work is fast-paced and a missed detail can result in time lost and wasted food, not to mention an unhappy customer. Chefs are on their feet for hours at a time, often working evenings, weekends and holidays. While many cooks learn skills on the job, chefs and head cooks usually hold degrees in the culinary arts from a recognized cooking school. Many employers look for safe food handling certificates as well. Chefs advance by moving to new jobs and learning new skills, sometimes opening their own restaurants. And while only a few ever get their own cooking show, they're always delighted to accept your compliments.