Chef

cook head chef executive chef kitchen manager chef de cuisine commis chef section chef station chef chef de partie sous chef

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Six year jobs forecast

The information is supplied by LMI For All

What's it like?

You would make delicious food for people to enjoy in a restaurant, cafe and bar. You’d cook the food to order and present it for the waiting staff to serve to the customers.

You’d prepare food using a variety of cooking methods. Creativity and imagination would help you present your food attractively.

You would:

  • Prepare, cook and present food to the required standards
  • Make sure that food is served promptly
  • Monitor food production to ensure consistent quality and portion size
  • Look after kitchen equipment
  • Control the stock levels of ingredients

You need to follow hygiene regulations and health and safety legislation to make sure your food won’t make customers ill and that the kitchen is a safe place to work.

If you work in a large kitchen you’d be part of a team and focus on one type of food, such as bread and pastries, or vegetables.

The head chef - also known as executive chef, kitchen manager or chef de cuisine - runs the entire kitchen, plans the menus and manages the budgets.

You’d probably start as a kitchen assistant or trainee chef (also called a commis chef). You’d spend time in each area of the kitchen, learning a range of skills and how to look after kitchen equipment.

With experience, you could become a section chef (also known as station chef and chef de partie) and take charge of an area of the kitchen.

The next step would be sous chef, where you would be running the entire kitchen for the head chef when needed.

Working conditions

Hours

Hours are likely to involve early mornings and/or late nights depending on where you work. You can also expect to cover weekends and public holidays. Part-time, casual and seasonal work is often available.

Environment

Kitchens are hot and humid and very busy around key meal times. You would wear chef whites and a hat for hygiene reasons.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Taking the lead
  • Working with your hands
  • Coming up with new ideas
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

There are no formal qualifications required to enter this role.

Some employers may ask for qualifications at SCQF level 4/5 or relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Food Preparation and Cooking (SVQ level 1) or Professional Cookery (SVQ level 2/3).

Many entrants do a Modern Apprenticeship in Hospitality.

You can enter some National Certificate, National Qualification or National Progression Award courses (SCQF 2-6) with no formal qualifications but most courses ask for National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 4/5).

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Hospitality: Practical cookery or Practical cake craft
  • Health and food technology
  • Science subjects

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience that show an interest in food and catering such as Skills for Work Food and Drink (SCQF level 5) or Hospitality (SCQF level 4/5).

An Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) may be useful.