Career Advice on How to Become A Chef or Head Cook

General Career Information

The term “head cook” does confuse many people.  However, head cooks usually do not cook heads.  On occasion, they are known to cook lobsters, often alive, which still have their heads attached of course.  While this is most certainly uncool, it is not the same as cooking a head. 

One of the basic requirements for being a chef or head cook is to first go out and get lots of tattoos, especially on one’s forearms.  The exact reasons behind this relatively modern phenomenon are somewhat murky, but are nonetheless a key element in the practice of the craft.  Once at least one forearm is properly covered in tattoos, it is possible to begin learning how to cook food and prepare meals.


Career Facts:

So now that you know head cooks do not usually cook actual heads, here is some additional information for your job search and career planning. Cooks and head cooks are generally responsible for making sure that the kitchen is in good working order.  This means supervising kitchen employees, making sure food is prepared safely in theory, and that food reaches customers in a relatively timely fashion.  The larger the facility, clearly the greater the responsibility is on the chef or head cook’s shoulders. This means that a chef or head cook at a large restaurant or hotel may be overseeing a considerable amount of people and food.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Above Average:

Americans love to eat, and they are doing such a good job at it that they are actually decreasing their lifespan.  While this fact is bad news for the nation and our nation’s future, its pretty good news chefs and cooks.  The growth rate for chefs and head cooks is expected to be about eleven percent between now and 2016.
Job Outlook is Fair

A Day in The Life:

Chefs and head cooks, due to the nature of the job, have to work under time constraints.  This obviously means stress.  The work environment can be hot and because they are working with knives and other potentially dangerous instruments, injuries are not unheard of and do happen.  Head cooks and chefs are responsible for most of what happens in a kitchen, ranging from making sure that there is enough food and that it is safe to eat, to making sure that food reaches customers on time and isn’t sent back because it is horrible.  While the work may be demanding, chefs and head cooks can learn a great deal while on the job, which can eventually translate into opening up their own restaurant or other opportunities.

Average Salary:

Salaries do vary depending upon the restaurant, but in general, the average salary is about $34,000 per year.  The top ten percent of chefs and head cooks can earn about $61,000 per year.



Career Training and Qualifications:

Many chefs and head cooks receive training in two-year programs, but many chefs earn degrees in four-year programs as well.  Training at culinary institutes and colleges is common.

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