Chefs (NOC 6321)

About this job

Chefs plan and direct food preparation and cooking activities and prepare and cook meals and specialty foods.

See what a day in the life of this job is like—watch WorkBC’s Career Trek video about this occupation.

Source: WorkBC’s Career Trek

People in this occupation:

  • work in restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other health-care institutions, clubs and similar establishments, and on ships
  • must be creative and have a good sense of timing, which is crucial to creating fine cuisine
  • should be detail-oriented when it involves food preparation and presentation
  • must also have excellent communication skills, good managerial skills and the ability to motivate kitchen staff
  • need a great deal of cooperation and teamwork abilities
Common job titles
  • banquet chef
  • chef / chef de cuisine / chef de partie
  • chef pâtissier / pastry chef
  • master chef
  • meat, poultry and fish chef
  • pasta chef
  • banquet chef
  • chef / chef de cuisine / chef de partie
  • chef pâtissier / pastry chef
  • cold foods chef
  • corporate chef
  • entremetier

Duties

This group includes various types of chefs who plan and direct food preparation and cooking activities, and who prepare and cook meals and specialty foods.

The terms chef and cook are often used interchangeably, but generally reflect different types of chefs and the organizational structure of the kitchen staff. Also, chefs tend to have more training than cooks.

Executive chefs:

  • plan and organize food preparation and cooking activities of several restaurants in an establishment, restaurant chains, hospitals or other establishments with food services
  • consult with clients regarding weddings, banquets and specialty events
  • may also prepare and cook food on a regular basis or for special guests or functions
  • plan menus and make sure food meets quality standards, estimate food requirements and/or estimate food and labour costs
  • supervise the activities of sous-chefs, specialist chefs, chefs and cooks
  • hire staff
  • estimate food requirements and may estimate food and labour costs
  • arrange for equipment purchases and repairs

Sous-chefs:

  • are the second-in-command and run the kitchen in the absence of the chef
  • supervise the activities of specialist chefs, chefs, cooks and other kitchen workers and demonstrate new cooking techniques and new equipment to cooking staff
  • may also plan menus, order food and kitchen supplies, and prepare and cook meals or specialty foods

Specialist chefs/chefs:

  • prepare complete meals or specialty foods, such as pastries, sauces, soups, salads, vegetables and meat, poultry and fish dishes
  • create decorative food displays for special events such as banquets
  • instruct cooks in food preparation, cooking, and garnishing and presentation of food
  • create new recipes and plan menus
  • may also be responsible for supervising cooks and other kitchen staff and for ordering food and kitchen supplies

Work environment

Workers are employed by restaurants, hotels, catering companies, ships, clubs, resorts, lodges and similar establishments, and work in kitchens. Many large restaurants and institutional kitchens have modern equipment, convenient work areas and air conditioning. Older, smaller eating establishments may have less comfortable work settings.

Kitchens must be well-ventilated, appropriately lit and properly equipped with sprinkler systems to protect against fires. Chefs must work in close quarters during busy time periods, lift heavy objects, work near hot ovens and grills, and stand for extended periods of time.

Chefs are under constant time pressure, while ensuring quality, safety and sanitation guidelines are followed. Job hazards include slipping and falling, cuts and minor burns.

Work hours vary depending on the establishment, and may include early mornings, late evenings, holidays and weekends. Resorts usually offer seasonal employment only.

Insights from industry

The average age of those working as chefs in B.C. is younger than the provincial average, so there will be a limited number of chef positions available to replace existing workers who retire.

Executive chefs will see an above average number of job openings from retirements. They are responsible for managing large restaurants and catering operations and have experience in human resource management, inventory and cost control, and menu design.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

There is some mobility among the various types of chefs in this occupational group. As an example, with training and experience, sous-chefs may advance to executive chef positions and executive chefs may progress to managerial positions in food preparation establishments.

Additional resources