Description of Kitchen-Based Culinary Jobs and Salaries.


The culinary world is a vibrant tapestry of different types of chefs, each with unique job titles, roles, and responsibilities. From executive chefs to pastry chefs, these professionals contribute their expertise to create delightful culinary experiences.

In this article, we will explore the various types of chefs in the kitchen hierarchy and specialist chef roles, their specific roles and responsibilities, the work environments they thrive in, the qualifications needed, qualities for excellence and the salary progression within approximately 2-5 years in each role.

For easy reference, we’ve included a table summarising the information in this article.

Chef jobs from high to low in the kitchen hierarchy.

Below are chef jobs available according to the traditional kitchen hierarchy, where chefs start as entry-level commis chefs and move to executive chefs.

It’s important to note that the exact hierarchy may vary depending on the organisation and the size of the kitchen. There may be additional positions in larger establishments, such as Junior Sous Chefs or Station Chefs, who oversee specific stations within the kitchen.

However, the hierarchy outlined below represents the general progression of positions from entry-level to top management in a professional kitchen.

Commis Chef:

Key Role: Entry-level position in a professional kitchen.

Responsibilities:

  • Assists in basic food preparation tasks,
  • Follows instructions from senior chefs.
  • Learns and develops foundational culinary skills.
  • Assists in food preparation, following instructions from senior chefs.
  • Learns and develops foundational culinary skills.

Work Environment:

  • A fast-paced kitchen environment
  • focuses on learning and gaining practical experience.

Qualifications: Culinary education or relevant experience is preferred but not always required.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Eagerness to learn and improve,
  • Willingness to work hard and take on new challenges,
  • Attention to detail.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments, and other culinary settings, often as an apprenticeship or starting position for culinary career growth.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $25,000 to $35,000 annually. After 2-5 years, commis chefs can earn $30,000 to $40,000 or more, based on experience and establishment.

Demi Chef de Partie or Station Chef

Key Role: Assists the Chef de Partie in managing a specific kitchen section and prepares and cooks dishes.

Responsibilities:

  • Assists in food preparation, follows instructions from senior chefs, and ensures quality and consistency.
  • Responsible for a specific section or station in the kitchen.
  • Prepares and cooks dishes according to the chef’s specifications.
  • Oversees the work of commis chefs in their section.

Work Environment:

  • Fast-paced kitchen environment.
  • Collaborates with other kitchen staff.
  • Learns and develops culinary skills.

Qualifications: Culinary education and some practical experience in the kitchen.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Enthusiasm to learn and grow.
  • Willings to take instructions and work well withing a team.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments, and other culinary settings.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from$30,000 to $40,000 per year$35,000 to $45,000 annually. After 2-5 years, station chefs can earn or more, based on experience and establishment.

Chef de Partie or Line Cook

Key Role: Manages a specific section or station in the kitchen, responsible for food preparation and overseeing junior cooks.

Responsibilities:

  • Prepares and cooks dishes according to the chef’s specifications, supervises and trains junior cooks, and ensures quality and consistency.
  • Manages a specific station or section in the kitchen.
  • Prepares, cooks, and plates dishes with precision and consistency.
  • Trains and supervises junior cooks and commis chefs.

Work Environment:

  • Fast-paced, high-pressure kitchen environment requires strong teamwork and coordination within the section.

Qualifications: Culinary education and several years of experience in the kitchen, expertise in specific cuisine or cooking techniques.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Attention to detail, excellent culinary skills, ability to work efficiently under pressure, and strong communication skills.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments, and other culinary settings.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $35,000 to $45,000  annually. After 2-5 years, line chefs can earn $40,000 to $50,000 per year or more, based on experience and establishment.

Sous Chef or Assistant Chef

Key Role: The second-in-command to the executive chef, managing kitchen operations, supervises staff and supports the executive chef.

Responsibilities:

  • Assisting with menu planning, recipe development, and kitchen staff management.
  • Overseeing food preparation, quality control, and presentation.
  • Monitoring inventory and ensuring proper storage and utilisation of ingredients.
  • Handling administrative tasks, such as scheduling and cost control.

Nature of the work environment:

  • The work environment of a sous chef is fast-paced, intense, and high-pressure.
  • They work long and irregular hours, including weekends, holidays, and evenings.
  • The kitchen can be physically demanding, with high temperatures and a fast-paced atmosphere.
  • Collaboration and effective communication are vital as they interact with the executive chef, kitchen staff, and suppliers.
  • They must handle multiple tasks simultaneously, ensuring smooth operations and timely food production.

Qualifications:

  • A culinary education or extensive practical experience in the culinary field is necessary.
  • In-depth knowledge of various cooking techniques, food preparation, and culinary trends.

Qualities for excellence:

  • Strong leadership skills to motivate and guide kitchen staff.
  • Excellent organisational abilities, with the capacity to handle multiple tasks and prioritise effectively.
  • Attention to detail and a commitment to maintaining high food quality standards.
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills to foster a positive work environment.
  • Adaptability and flexibility to adjust to changing kitchen demands.
  • Problem-solving abilities to address issues promptly and efficiently.
  • Time management skills to ensure efficient workflow and meet deadlines.

Work opportunities: Sous chefs work in various culinary settings, including restaurants, hotels, and catering companies.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $45,000 to $60,000 annually. After 2-5 years, sous chefs can earn $50,000 to $70,000 or more, based on experience and establishment.

Executive Chef

Job Title: Executive Chef or Head Chef

Key Role: The top-ranking chef responsible for overseeing all culinary operations.

Responsibilities:

  • Menu planning and development.
  • Supervising kitchen staff and ensuring high-quality food production.
  • Managing inventory, ordering supplies, and maintaining kitchen hygiene.
  • Developing and enforcing culinary standards and procedures.

Work environment:

  • The work environment of an executive chef is fast-paced, demanding, and high-pressure.
  • They work long and irregular hours, including weekends, holidays, and evenings.
  • The kitchen can be a physically demanding space, with high temperatures and a fast-paced atmosphere.
  • Collaboration and effective communication are essential as they interact with staff, management, and suppliers.
  • The work environment is dynamic, requiring adaptability and the ability to handle stress effectively.

Qualifications:

  • A culinary education from a reputable culinary school or extensive practical experience is necessary.
  • Proven experience in various kitchen positions, showcasing a solid foundation in culinary skills.

Qualities for excellence:

  • In-depth knowledge of different cuisines, cooking techniques, and flavour profiles.
  • Strong leadership and management skills to inspire, motivate and guide a team of kitchen staff.
  • Excellent organizational abilities, with the capacity to handle multiple tasks and prioritise effectively.
  • Exceptional culinary skills, constantly striving for creativity and innovation.
  • Effective communication and interpersonal skills to foster a positive work environment.
  • Excellent problem-solving abilities to handle unexpected challenges in the kitchen.
  • Attention to detail and a commitment to maintaining high food quality standards.
  • Business acumen and financial management skills to ensure profitability.
  • Passion for the culinary arts and a dedication to continuous learning and improvement.
  • Ability to handle pressure and work well under tight deadlines.
  • Flexibility and adaptability to adjust to changing customer preferences and industry trends.

Work Opportunities: Opportunities for executive chefs exist in fine-dining restaurants, luxury hotels, resorts, cruise ships, and large-scale establishments.

Salary: Starting salaries can range from $70,000 to $90,000 per year. After 2-5 years, they can earn $80,000 to $120,000 or more, depending on experience, reputation, and the establishment’s size.

Specialist Chef Jobs.

Below are job descriptions of chefs in specialist roles.

Specialist chefs focus their skills and expertise on specific areas of cuisine, such as pastry, sauces, grilling, or vegetarian cuisine. They bring a depth of knowledge and precision to their specialised roles, creating culinary delights and elevating the dining experience with their expertise.

Pastry Chef

Job Title: Pastry Chef or Pâtissier

Key Role: Specialises in preparing desserts, pastries, and baked goods and is responsible for creating and executing pastry menus.

Responsibilities:

  • Creating and executing pastry recipes, including cakes, pastries, and bread.
  • Creating dessert recipes.
  • Overseeing dessert menu development and presentation.
  • Managing pastry staff, ensuring quality and consistency.
  • Monitoring inventory and ordering pastry-specific ingredients.
  • managing pastry kitchen operations.

Work Environment: Bakeries, patisseries, and high-end restaurants; requires precision, creativity, and attention to detail.

Qualifications: Culinary education with a focus on pastry and baking.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Strong knowledge of pastry techniques,
  • Creativity in flavour combinations and presentation,
  • Precision in measurements and techniques.

Work Opportunities: Bakeries, patisseries, high-end restaurants, hotels, and resorts.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $40,000 to $55,000 annually. After 2-5 years, pastry chefs can earn $50,000 to $70,000 or more, based on experience and establishment.

Saucier or Sauce Chef

Key Role: Prepares sauces, dressings, and gravies, ensuring flavour, consistency, and execution of hot dishes.

Responsibilities: Preparing and seasoning sauces, overseeing cooking processes, managing sauté station.

Work Environment: Restaurants, hotels, and fine dining establishments; require high-heat cooking and attention to flavours.

Qualifications: Culinary education and expertise in sauce preparation.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Strong understanding of flavours and seasonings,
  • Ability to multitask and work under pressure, and attention to detail.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, fine dining establishments, banquet facilities.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $40,000 to $50,000 annually. After 2-5 years, you can earn $45,000 to $60,000  or more, based on experience and establishment.

Garde Manger Chef or Pantry Chef

Key Role: Manages the cold food section, responsible for salads, charcuterie, and food preservation.

Responsibilities: Preparing and presenting cold appetisers, salads, and cured meats, overseeing pantry operations.

Work Environment: Restaurants, hotels, and banquet facilities; requires organisation and skill in food preservation.

Qualifications: Culinary education with knowledge of cold food preparation.

Qualities for Excellence:

  • Presentation creativity.
  • food safety and preservation techniques and knowledge.
  • Attention to detail.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, banquet facilities, catering companies.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $40,000 to $50,000 annually. After 2-5 years, you can earn $45,000 to $60,000 or more, based on experience and establishment.

Grill Chef or Grillardin.

Key Role: Specializes in grilling and cooking food over an open flame or grill.

Responsibilities:

  • Prepares grilled meats, vegetables, and seafood.
  • Monitors grill temperatures and ensures proper cooking techniques.
  • Manages grill station.

Work Environment: Restaurants, steakhouses, and outdoor cooking venues; involves high heat and open-flame cooking.

Qualifications: Culinary education with experience in grilling techniques.

Qualities for Excellence: Understanding grilling techniques and temperatures, multitasking ability, and attention to flavours.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, steakhouses, outdoor cooking venues, and barbecue establishments.

Salary: Starting salaries typically range from $40,000 to $50,000 annually. After 2-5 years, you can earn $45,000 to $60,000 or more, based on experience and establishment.

Tournant Chef or Relief Chef.

Key Role: Covers various stations in the kitchen, providing support and filling in where needed.

Responsibilities: Assisting in different kitchen stations, ensuring smooth operations and maintaining quality.

Work Environment: Restaurants, hotels, culinary establishments; Fast-paced kitchen environment requires adaptability and versatility.

Qualifications: Culinary education and experience in various kitchen positions.

Qualities for Excellence: Ability to quickly adapt to different stations, strong multitasking skills, and teamwork.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, culinary establishments, cruise ships.

Salary: Starting Salary varies based on location and establishment, typically ranging from $25,000 to $35,000 annually. After 2-5 Years, with experience and expertise, you can earn $30,000 to $45,000 annually.

Sous Vide Chef:

Key Role: Specialises in the precise cooking technique of sous vide, using vacuum-sealed ingredients cooked at specific temperatures.

Responsibilities: Prepares and cooks food using sous vide techniques and maintains quality and consistency.

Work Environment: Modern kitchen with sous vide equipment and attention to detail in temperature control.

Qualifications: Culinary education and experience with sous vide cooking.

Qualities for Excellence: Knowledge of temperature control, timing, and precision in cooking methods.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, hotels, and culinary establishments emphasising modern techniques.

Salary: Starting salary varies based on location and establishment typically range from $30,000 to $40,000 annually. Within 2-5 Years, with experience and expertise, you can earn $40,000 to $55,000 annually.

Sushi Chef (Itamae):

Key Role: Specializes in sushi-making, preparing and presenting sushi and sashimi dishes.

Responsibilities: Prepares raw fish, rice, and other ingredients; creates sushi rolls and nigiri; and maintains quality and presentation.

Work Environment: Sushi bar or dedicated sushi station, attention to detail in knife skills and craftsmanship.

Qualifications: Culinary education or apprenticeship in sushi-making.

Qualities for Excellence: Expertise in fish selection, precision in sushi preparation, and creativity in presentation.

Work Opportunities: Sushi bars, Japanese restaurants, high-end dining establishments.

Salary: Starting Salary varies based on location and establishment, typically ranging from $35,000 to $50,000 annually. Within 2-5 Years, with experience and expertise, you can earn $50,000 to $70,000 annually.

Vegetarian Chef/Vegan Chef:

Key Role: Specializes in creating vegetarian and plant-based dishes, adapting recipes to accommodate dietary preferences.

Responsibilities: Designs and prepares vegetarian menus, sources quality ingredients, and ensures flavours and textures.

Work Environment: Restaurants, health-conscious establishments, adaptability to vegetarian cooking techniques.

Qualifications: Culinary education with a focus on vegetarian cuisine or plant-based cooking.

Qualities for Excellence: Creativity in vegetarian flavour profiles, knowledge of alternative protein sources, and adaptability in recipe development.

Work Opportunities: Restaurants, vegetarian-focused establishments, wellness retreats.

Salary: Starting Salary varies based on location and establishment typically range from $30,000 to $45,000 annually. In 2-5 Years, with experience and expertise, you can earn $40,000 to $55,000 annually.

Butcher

Key Role: Specializes in meat preparation, including cutting, trimming, and portioning.

Responsibilities: Ensures proper handling and storage of meat and prepares cuts according to specifications.

Work Environment: Butcher shops, meat departments, or restaurant kitchens with meat-focused menus.

Qualifications: Knowledge of different cuts of meat, experience in meat handling and processing.

Qualities for Excellence: Precision in cutting and portioning, knowledge of meat quality and sourcing.

Work Opportunities: Butcher shops, meat markets, speciality food stores, restaurants.

Salary: Based on location and establishment, starting salaryis typically around $25,000 to $35,000 annually. Salary within 2-5 years, with experience and specialisation, can range from $30,000 to $45,000 or more.

Sommelier:

Key Role: Specialises in wine selection, pairing, and knowledge of different types of wines.

Responsibilities: Assists customers in choosing wines, curates wine lists, and educates staff on wine service.

Work Environment: Fine dining restaurants, hotels, and wine bars.

Qualifications: Wine certification programs (such as Court of Master Sommeliers), extensive knowledge of wines and viticulture.

Qualities for Excellence: Exceptional palate, deep wine regions and varietals knowledge, strong communication and customer service skills.

Work Opportunities: Fine dining establishments, upscale resorts, and the wine industry.

Salary: Starting Salary can vary significantly, ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 annually. In 2-5 years, with experience and reputation, sommeliers can earn $60,000 to $100,000 or more, especially in high-end establishments.

Chocolatier

Key Role: Specializes in creating artisanal chocolates and confections.

Responsibilities: Developing recipes, tempering chocolate, and creating unique flavours and designs.

Work Environment: Chocolate shops, pastry departments, and confectionery companies.

Qualifications: Culinary education focusing on pastry or chocolate, experience in chocolate tempering and moulding.

Qualities for Excellence: Creativity in flavour combinations, artistic skills in chocolate decoration, and attention to detail.

Work Opportunities: Chocolatier shops, pastry departments, speciality food stores.

Salary: Starting Salary is typically around $30,000 to $40,000 annually, depending on location and experience. Salary in 2-5 years can increase to $40,000 to $60,000 or more as skills and reputation grow.

Molecular Gastronomy Chef:

Key Role: Specializes in utilising scientific techniques and ingredients to create innovative and visually stunning dishes.

Responsibilities: Experimenting with molecular techniques, developing unique recipes, and pushing culinary boundaries.

Work Environment: Innovative restaurants, culinary labs, research and development kitchens.

Qualifications: Culinary education focusing on molecular gastronomy, strong knowledge of food science.

Qualities for Excellence: Creativity in molecular techniques, understanding of flavour pairing, ability to balance artistry and taste.

Work Opportunities: Cutting-edge restaurants, food innovation companies, and culinary research institutions.

Salary: Starting Salary varies widely depending on the establishment and location, typically around $40,000 to $60,000 annually. Within 2-5 years, with experience and success, molecular gastronomy chefs can earn $60,000 to $80,000 or more, especially in renowned establishments.

Descriptive table of various chefs and salaries.

The table below outlines the roles, responsibilities, qualifications, work environment, initial salary, and salary progression within 2-5 years for various chef positions found in a kitchen.

Just so you know, the approximate salary ranges can vary based on location, experience, establishment, and industry trends.

Chef Position
Role and ResponsibilitiesQualifications NeededWork EnvironmentInitial Salary RangeSalary Range within
2-5 years
Commis ChefAssists in food preparation and follows instructions from senior chefs.Culinary education or relevant experience preferred.Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments.$25,000 – $35,000 per year.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.
Demi Chef de PartieManages a specific section or station in the kitchen and assists senior chefs.Culinary education and some practical experience are required.Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.$35,.000 – $45,000 per year.
Chef de PartieOversees a specific section, prepares dishes, and supervises junior cooks.Culinary education and several years of experience are required.Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments.$35,000 – $45,000 per year.$40,000 – $50,000 per year.
Sous ChefAssists the executive chef, oversees kitchen.Culinary education and significant industry.Restaurants, hotels, catering establishments.$45,000 – $60,000 per year.$50,000 – $70,000 per year.
Executive Sous ChefSupports the executive chef in managing the kitchen and ensures efficiency.Culinary education and extensive experience in top kitchens.Fine dining restaurants, luxury hotels.$55,000 – $70,000 per year.$65,000 – $90,000 per year.
Executive ChefOverall responsibility for menu creation, kitchen management, and quality.Culinary education, extensive experience, and leadership skills.Fine dining restaurants, luxury hotels.$70,000 – $90,000 per year.$80,000 – $120,000+ per year.
Pastry ChefSpecialises in pastry and dessert preparation and menu development.Culinary education with a focus on pastry and baking.Bakeries, patisseries, high-end restaurants.$40,000 – $55,000 per year.$50,000 – $70,000 per year.
SaucierPrepares sauces and dressings, ensuring flavour and consistency.Culinary education and expertise in sauce preparation.Restaurants, hotels, fine dining establishments.$40,000 – $50,000 per year.$45,000 – $60,000 per year.
Garde Manger ChefManages the cold food section, prepares salads, and oversees food preservation.Culinary education with knowledge of cold food preparation.Restaurants, hotels, banquet facilities.$40,000 – $50,000 per year.$45,000 – $60,000 per year.
Grill ChefSpecialises in grilling and cooking food over an open flame or grill.Culinary education with experience in grilling techniques.Restaurants, steakhouses, outdoor cooking venues.$40,000 – $50,000 per year.$45,000 – $60,000 per year.
Tournant ChefCovers various stations, supports where needed.Culinary education.Restaurants, hotels, cruise ships.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.$35.,000 – $50,000 per year.
Sous Vide ChefSpecialises in cooking with sous vide technique.Culinary education, expertise.Restaurants, hotels, culinary labs.$40,000 – $50,000 per year.$50,000 – $70,000 per year.
Sushi Chef (Itamae)Prepares and presents sushi and sashimi.Culinary education, experience.Sushi bars, Japanese restaurants.$35,000 – $45,000 per year.$40,000 – $60,000 per year.
Vegetarian ChefSpecialises in vegetarian and plant-based cuisine.Culinary education, knowledge, experience.Restaurants, speciality food stores.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.$35,000 – $50,000 per year.
ButcherPrepares and handles various cuts of meat.On-the-job training, knowledge.Butcher shops, restaurants.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.$35,000 – $50,000 per year.
SommelierWine selection, pairing, and service.Wine certification, expertise.Fine dining restaurants, hotels.$40,000 – $60,000 per year.$60,000 – $100,000+ per year.
ChocolatierCreates artisanal chocolates and confections.Culinary education, experience.Chocolate shops, pastry departments.$30,000 – $40,000 per year.$40,000 – $60,000 per year.
Molecular Gastronomy ChefApplies scientific techniques to create innovative dishes.Culinary education, expertise.Innovative restaurants, culinary labs.$40,000 – $60,000 per year.$60,000 – $80,000+ per year.

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