Head chef


Head chefs manage the kitchen to oversee the preparation, cooking and service of food.

Includes chef.
Includes assistant head chef.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to head chef:

industrial head chef
chef de cuisine
kitchen manager
executive chef
managing partner head chef
head of kitchen
master Chef
sous chef
master kitchen manager
patron cuisinier
master chef

Minimum qualifications

High school diploma is generally required to work as head chef. However, this requirement may differ in some countries.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Head chef is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Head chef career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to head chef.

head pastry chef
pastry chef
restaurant manager
venue director

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of head chef. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of head chef with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

hospitality revenue manager
telecommunications manager
customer experience manager
food service vocational teacher
purchasing manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of head chef.

Food storage: The proper conditions and methods to store food to keep it from spoiling, taking into account humidity, light, temperature and other environmental factors.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of head chef.

Comply with food safety and hygiene: Respect optimal food safety and hygiene during preparation, manufacturing, processing, storage, distribution and delivery of food products.
Manage budgets: Plan, monitor and report on the budget.
Handle customer complaints: Administer complaints and negative feedback from customers in order to address concerns and where applicable provide a quick service recovery.
Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
Ensure regular maintenance of kitchen equipment: Guarantee coordination and supervision of cleaning and maintenance of kitchen equipment.
Set prices of menu items: Fix the prices of main course dishes and other items on the menu. Ensure that they remain affordable within the organisation’s budget.
Recruit employees: Hire new employees by scoping the job role, advertising, performing interviews and selecting staff in line with company policy and legislation.
Use food preparation techniques: Apply food preparation techniques including the selecting, washing, cooling, peeling, marinating, preparing of dressings and cutting of ingredients.
Handle chemical cleaning agents: Ensure proper handling, storage and disposal of cleaning chemicals in accordance with regulations.
Plan menus: Organise menus taking into account the nature and style of the establishment, client feedback, cost and the seasonality of ingredients.
Keep up with trends in eating out: Follow trends in cooking and eating out by monitoring a range of sources.
Assist customers: Provide support and advice to customers in making purchasing decisions by finding out their needs, selecting suitable service and products for them and politely answering questions about products and services.
Supervise food quality: Oversee the quality and safety of food served to visitors and customers according to food standards.
Handover the food preparation area: Leave the kitchen area in conditions which follow safe and secure procedures, so that it is ready for the next shift.
Apply procurement: Undertake ordering of services, equipment, goods or ingredients, compare costs and check the quality to ensure optimal payoff for the organisation.
Use reheating techniques: Apply reheating techniques including steaming, boiling or bain marie.
Schedule shifts: Plan staff time and shifts to reflect the demands of the business.
Use culinary finishing techniques: Apply culinary finishing techniques including garnishing, decorating, plating, glazing, presenting and portioning.
Manage hospitality revenue: Oversee a hospitality revenue by understanding, monitoring, predicting and reacting to consumer behaviour, in order to maximise revenue or profits, maintain budgeted gross profit and minimise expenditures.
Maintain a safe, hygienic and secure working environment: Preserve health, hygiene, safety and security in the workplace in accordance with relevant regulations.
Estimate costs of required supplies: Try to value the amounts and costs of required supplies such as of food items and ingredients.
Control of expenses: Monitoring and maintaining effective cost controls, in regards to efficiencies, waste, overtime and staffing. Assessing excesses and strives for efficiency and productivity.
Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
Manage stock rotation: Oversee stock levels, paying attention to expiry dates to diminish stock loss.
Use cooking techniques: Apply cooking techniques including grilling, frying, boiling, braising, poaching, baking or roasting.
Compile cooking recipes: Organise recipes with regards to taste balance, healthy eating and nutrition.
Monitor the use of kitchen equipment: Oversee the correct use of kitchen equipment, such as knives, colour coded chopping boards, buckets and cloths.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of head chef. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of head chef. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

Manage inspections of equipment: Monitor formal or official viewings and examinations in order to regularly test and inspect property and equipment.
Identify suppliers: Determine potential suppliers for further negotiation. Take into consideration aspects such as product quality, sustainability, local sourcing, seasonality and coverage of the area. Evaluate the likelihood of obtaining beneficial contracts and agreements with them.
Cook pastry products: Prepare savoury and sweet pastry products, combining with other products if necessary.
Upsell products: Persuade customers to buy additional or more expensive products.
Advise guests on menus for special events: Offer recommendations to guests on meal and drink items available for special events or parties in a professional and friendly manner.
Think creatively about food and beverages: Generate innovative and creative ideas to come up with new recipes, preparations of food and beverages and new ways to present the products.
Attend to detail regarding food and beverages: Perform great attention to all steps in the creation and the presentation of a qualitative product.
Execute chilling processes to food products: Carry out chilling, freezing and cooling operation processes to food products such as fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, catering food. Prepare food products for extended periods of storage or half prepared food. Ensure safety and nutrition qualities of frozen goods and preserve products in accordance with specified temperatures.
Forecast future levels of business: Predict how the business will perform in future, potential expenditures and revenues to project situations for future periods
Negotiate supplier arrangements: Reach an agreement with the supplier upon technical, quantity, quality, price, conditions, storage, packaging, send-back and other requirements related to the purchasing and delivering process.
Plan medium to long term objectives: Schedule long term objectives and immediate to short term objectives through effective medium-term planning and reconciliation processes.
Create decorative food displays: Design decorative food displays by determining how food is presented in the most attractive way and realising food displays in order to maximise revenue.
Manage medium term objectives: Monitor medium term schedules with budget estimations and reconciliation on a quarterly basis.
Manage contract disputes: Monitor issues that arise between the parties involved in a contract and provide solutions in order to avoid lawsuits.
Check deliveries on receipt: Control that all order details are recorded, that faulty items are reported and returned and that all paperwork is received and processed, according to the purchasing procedures.
Prepare flambeed dishes: Make flambeed dishes in the kitchen or in front of customers while paying attention to safety.

ISCO group and title

3434 – Chefs





  1. Head chef – ESCO
Last updated on August 8, 2022

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