The Average Salary of a Professional Chef

by James Rada, Jr.; Updated September 26, 2017
side profile of a chef cooking food in the kitchen

Some professional chefs have now become celebrities who promote their recipe books, own restaurants and host cooking shows. While the work of a professional chef is usually not so glamorous, professional chefs in the United States can earn a very good living, depending on their experience. Reaching the top tier as an executive chef requires a lot of hard work and long hours on the part of the rising chef, but it is achievable.

Commis Chef

A commis chef is the beginning level of professional chefs. Commis chefs learn their art training under more experienced chefs. They may work in a kitchen peeling vegetables, setting out cookware and cleaning the kitchen. An entry-level chef position has a top salary of around $20,000 a year, according to Big Gourmet Meals.

Chef de Partie

A chef de partie is sometimes called a line cook. This is the most-common chef’s title in a professional kitchen, according to Big Gourmet Meals. Chefs de partie work in one area of the kitchen preparing the foods there. The top salary for this position is around $30,000 a year, according to Big Gourmet Meals.

Pastry Chefs

Pastry Chefs are chefs who specialize in the creation of pastries and desserts. They have worked their way up from bakers to pastry cooks to pastry chefs. According to Star Chefs.com, the average salary for a pastry chef is $50,581 a year for salaried chefs, and $15.81 an hour for hourly chefs.

Sous Chef

Sous chefs are assistants to the executive chef. Chefs de partie usually become sous chefs once they are trained in most areas of the kitchen. Sous chefs not only cook, but they are also administrators who create work schedules, resolve customer problems and fill in where there are gaps in the kitchen. When the executive chef is not in the kitchen, the sous chef is in charge. The average salary for a sous chef is around $40,000 a year, according to Big Gourmet Meals.

Executive Chef

An executive chef does not do much cooking. At this point in their careers, they have become managers who hire other chefs, plan menus and set budgets. It is the executive chef’s recipes and vision that create the personality and reputation of a restaurant. The average executive chef's salary is around $70,000 a year, though the elite chefs can make far more, according to Big Gourmet Meals.

About the Author

James Rada, Jr. was a newspaper reporter for eight years and earned 23 awards from the Maryland Delaware D.C. Press Association, Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland State Teachers’ Association and CNHI. He also worked for 12 years as a marketing communications writer, earning a Print Copywriter of the Year Award from the Utah Ad Federation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications.

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