Chef Salary Range

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The salary of a chef varies according to the type of chef you are, the responsibilities involved, and the place where you work. Depending on all these factors, a chef’s salary ranges between US $18,000 – US $100,000.

A chef is in charge of an entire commercial kitchen, and is responsible for the procedures pertaining to cooking and the operations carried out in a kitchen.

The duties vary according to the position, but the basic responsibilities include cooking various dishes as per the hotel/restaurant’s guidelines, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene at all times, meeting all food safety requirements, and ensuring proper storage of food.

A fresher can expect up to US $18,000 whereas a highly experienced chef can expect a salary as high as US $100,000. No specific qualification is needed to become a chef. However, a bachelor’s or an associate’s degree in culinary arts from a reputed school will ensure a better position and hence, a better pay.

Now, let’s take a look at the salary range of a chef at various positions and some of the highest paid chefs in America.

* All figures mentioned are in US Dollars.

Salary According to Position

Executive Chef $33,000 – $84,000
Executive Chef, Hotel $36,000 – $103,000
Executive Sous Chef $31,000 – $68,000
Sous Chef $24,000 – $49,000
Senior Sous Chef $26,000 – $56,000
Corporate Sous Chef $26,000 – $69,000
Pastry Sous Chef $20,000 – $43,000
Executive Pastry Chef $29,000 – $82,000
Assistant Pastry Chef $20,000 – $40,000
Pastry Chef $20,000 – $50,000
Personal Chef $21,000 – $86,000
Banquet Chef $26,000 – $67,000
Chef de Cuisine $31,000 – $68,000
Head Chef/Cook $26,000 – $61,000
Chef, Hotel $20,000 – $55,000
Chef Assistant $17,000 – $40,000
Kitchen Chef $19,000 – $46,000
Sushi Chef $20,000 – $45,000
Pizza Chef $15,000 – $27,000
Pantry Chef / Garde Manger $17,000 – $28,000

*The above figures are as per PayScale as of September 2012.

Salary According to Industry

Restaurant $30,000 – $61,000
Food Service $29,000 – $63,000
Bar/Nightclub $29,000 – $57,000
Hotel $23,000 – $68,000
Catering $27,000 – $78,000
Golf Course $31,000 – $41,000

*The above figures are as per PayScale as of September 2012 and refer to the salary of a Head Chef.

Highest Paid Chefs in America

Forbes released the list of highest paid chefs in America, in July this year. The list was compiled on the basis of the chef’s earnings between June 2011 and June 2012. It includes the revenue made by their hotels/restaurants, TV shows, cookbooks, etc.

1. Gordon Ramsay – $38 million

Cooking Style: French/Italian/British

Ramsay, who initially wanted to become a football player, found his interest in cooking at the age of 19. Today, at the age of 45, he owns 23 restaurants all over the world and is America’s highest earning chef. He gained a lot of fame by appearing on several cooking shows on the small screen, the most popular being Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef and Hotel Hell. He has also published several cookbooks, many of which are best-sellers. He recently opened up a steak house at the Paris Casino Hotel in Las Vegas and soon plans to open up a casual dining restaurant called The Fat Cow.

2. Rachael Ray – $25 million

Cooking Style: 30-minute Meals

Ray, who rose to fame with her 30-minute meals in 2001, was raised in the restaurant business. Having appeared on four Food Network cooking shows so far, this 44-year old is also famous for her catchphrases. One of her catchphrases EVOO, short for Extra Virgin Olive Oil, was added to the Oxford American College Dictionary. Surprisingly, this $25 million owner doesn’t own a restaurant. She finds great joy in writing cookbooks. Her latest book, Book of Burger, is going to be her twentieth.

3. Wolfgang Puck – $20 million

Cooking Style: California, French and Fusion

This Austrian celebrity chef is the owner of Wolfgang Puck Companies which include the Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, and Wolfgang Puck Catering. They cover 20 fine dining restaurants, several catering services, a chain of more than 80 Wolfgang Puck Express locations, a line of kitchenware, canned foods, and cookbooks. He is also known for his special appearances on TV shows like Las Vegas, The Simpsons, and The Next Food Network Star.

4. Paula Deen – $17 million

Cooking Style: Southern

Widely known as the “Butter Queen”, Paula Deen, who started out by selling sandwiches from door to door, landed up fourth on the list earning an estimated $17 million. She owns two restaurants – Lady & Sons in Savannah, Georgia and Paula Deen Buffet in Tunica, Mississippi. She has published various books including Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cooking and Cooking With Paula Deen, both of which were best-sellers. She also launched a magazine with the same name, the circulation of which was 7.5 million in 2009.

5. Mario Batali – $13 million

Cooking Style: Italian

Famous for appearing on the Iron Chef America Series, Batali, who started his career with dish-washing earned a whopping $13 million this year. His accomplishments include the all new restaurant, Eataly in New York, his TV appearances on shows including the latest The Chew, and his joint venture of pepper and salt grinders with Vic Firth and his vineyard in Tuscany. He was recently in controversies for having to pay his staff $5.25 million to settle a lawsuit over withheld tips.

6. Alain Ducasse – $12 million

Cooking Style: French

With 30 restaurants, 3 hotels, around 17 cookbooks, various consulting activities, and a Parisian cooking school, Alain generated a revenue of $12 million this year. He was the first chef to earn three Michelin stars in three different countries. Although his Las Vegas restaurant Mix gets him most of his revenue, his London and Paris establishments still remain to be the best dining destinations.

7. Todd English – $11 million

Cooking Style: Italian

He is the proud owner of several award-winning restaurants including the two most famous ones – Olives in Boston and Figs in Massachusetts. His latest establishments include the Todd English P.U.B at Las Vegas’ CityCenter and Plaza Food Hall and Brasserie Ca Va in New York City. He owns a line of kitchenware, The Todd English Collection and hosts a PBS Travel Series – Food Trip with Todd English. He has also authored four cookbooks – The Olives Table, The Figs Table, The Olives Dessert Table and Cooking in Everyday English.

8. Nobuyuki Matsuhisa – $10 million

Cooking Style: Nobu Style

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, popularly known as “Nobu”, was born in Saitama, Japan, where he worked in a Sushi bar for seven years before opening up his own in Peru. He started blending regional Peruvian ingredients with traditional Japanese dishes which gave rise to the Nobu Style. Later, he opened Matsuhisa in Beverly Hills which was an instant success, winning him immediate acclaim. Today, he is the owner of 30 restaurants with three Michelin stars, has co-authored several cookbooks, and owns a line of cookware named Nobu Original Dinnerware.

9. Bobby Flay – $9 million

Cooking Style: Mexican and Southwest

Flay, who started his career by working at a pizza parlor at the age of 17, has now become a household name with his TV appearances on various cooking shows. Burger Palace, his chain of burger restaurants is the latest addition to his empire. He owns 12 restaurants including the very famous Mesa Grills in New York and Las Vegas. With a line of spices, sauces, dishes, and cookware, and several TV shows under his belt, his business and fame continues to grow.

10. Guy Fieri – $8 million

Cooking Style: Southern and California

Fieri, who landed on the Food Network after winning the second season of Food Network Star in 2006, is more a celebrity than a chef. He has starred on several shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Big Bite, Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and Food Network Star. His restaurants – Johnny Garlic’s, Tex Wasabi’s and Guy’s Burger Joint, line of clothing, hats, accessories and cookbooks generated an annual revenue of $8 million this year.

The above figures thus prove that there is a vast scope in the cooking industry. If you put your heart and soul into it, you can make a lot of money. The difference lies in the little extra that you add to your ‘savoureux, des créations culinaires’.

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