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What is the Average Starting Salary for Chefs?

Career News July 20, 2014

The usual chef starting salary depends on a number of different factors, including the exact type of position, the location of your work place, years of experience, along with the rating and prestige of the place you are working for.

Usually, the bigger the restaurants, the higher the salaries will be for you. For instance, there are some very special five-star hotels that pay their chefs better than the average restaurant. You can usually find these in the center of big cities and seaside.


An assistant chef is the closest cook to the head chef, and he participate in composing the menu. He has to be perfectly aware of the appropriate teamwork and the inner workings of the kitchen. An assistant’s salary is relatively low with average salary starting at $35,000 per year.


The so-called pastry chef will start working after receiving his or her degree from a culinary educational facility and after he or she has at least two years of kitchen experience in his or her curriculum vitae. A pastry chef has to have imagination and be fully aware of how to handle baked food and all types of pastries. The starting salary of a pastry chef is between $17,000 and $40,000 per year.


The sous chef is ranked high in the hierarchy of the kitchen staff and takes charge when the executive chef is too busy. He or she should have proper experience and skills. His or her salary is a bit less; between $35,000 and $40,000 annually.


A sushi chef specializes in cooking fish and have to be aware of Japanese style cuisine. It is a more complex chef job because it is considered “riskier” food in terms of health. Strict regulations have to be followed.

If you don’t have a lot of previous experience, your salary will start at $25,000 per year, but as you progress, you can earn as much as $70,000 per year.


The executive chef is the one running the show. He or she is the most experienced, well trained, and usually the commanding chef in the kitchen. He or she is responsible for everything in the kitchen and the driving force within, setting up priorities and pace of work as well as assigning different tasks to different assistants. This worker is the one who has the main say in the composing of the menu.

Additional responsibilities include coming up with new recipes that “define” the cooking style and taste of the restaurant as well as keeping up with current trends within the industry. Because of all these responsibilities and the high demand for cooking knowledge and experience, a starting executive chef will earn a minimum salary of $50,000 per year. As he or she progresses and successfully manages the orders, he or she can reach a payment rate of $80,000; in some instances, even more, provided his or her place of work is in a big city.

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