Did you know the average starting salary for an executive chef is $67,000 a year? Or that a corporate chef can easily earn a six-figure salary?
You’ll have to pay your dues first. But if that’s your passion and you work hard, the rewards are big – both financially and personally.
“Becoming a chef is a great opportunity for any veteran who is dedicated to learning his craft, provided he or she is willing to put in the passion, work and commitment to perfecting his or her craft,” says Paul C. Kelly, director of admissions and student services at the Colorado Culinary Academy in Denver. “As all veterans are aware, your rank is earned. The same is true within the culinary world.”
It’s not just about cooking fancy food. Chefs hire, train and manage staffs that can range from two to more than 2,500 employees. They develop menus for restaurants, food service operations, country clubs, hotels, casinos, cruise ships, hospitals, professional and collegiate sports teams, schools, colleges and universities, prisons, military installations, concert tours, sporting venues and more.
“The biggest misconception about becoming a chef is that anyone can do it,” Kelly says. “In reality the training and experience chefs have to absorb to pay their dues and achieve their ranks is along the same lines as that of a doctor, or any other professional. There is a scientific component to becoming a chef, as well as an artistic component. Chefs have to be very strong in accounting and inventory control. Chef’s need to understand how to teach as well as how to be taught.”
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