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Chef Or Restaurant Management: Which Career Path Is Right For You?


If you consider yourself an expert cook looking to turn your passion into a career, you may be at the point where you’re wondering what path to take in the culinary field.

There are essentially two common options to take in the culinary world: Enter the field as a chef or pursue the route of restaurant management.

Below, we’ve laid out more information on both career paths to help you make a more informed decision. Find out which area may better align with your own wants and needs.

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Chef Duties and Income

As a chef, you’re in the weeds everyday—cooking appetizers, entrees, and desserts. Your responsibilities include:

  • setting up the kitchen with cooking utensils
  • studying and understanding the intricacies of each recipe on the menu
  • bringing meals to life

Your main focus is providing a number of delicious meals for the customers, and it can be very rewarding knowing that restaurant patrons enjoyed dishes that you chose and cooked with your own two hands.

Of course, there is room for growth as a chef. After gaining experience and mastering the craft, one can rise to the position of head cook.

In many cases, the head cook will have carte blanche over the menu. He or she will cook the food, build the menu and decide what dishes to serve, oversee the kitchen staff, and ensure that guests have a good meal.

As a chef or a head cook, you can make a very good living. The 2018 average pay among chefs and head cooks was $52,160 (bls.gov). And if you work in a great restaurant and build your craft, you can make much more.

Restaurant Manager Role and Salary

On the other hand, restaurant management serves an important function in the culinary world. While chefs ensure that customers have a great meal, restaurant managers ensure that customers have a great experience.

Restaurant managers are responsible for:

  • overseeing a number of areas, such as hiring and training the staff
  • greeting and serving guests
  • planning menus
  • managing budgets
  • creating a comfortable ambiance for guests on a daily basis

In addition, restaurant managers are responsible for handling customer service. Any time there’s a comment, complaint, or suggestion from a customer, restaurant managers have to address that with courtesy and respect.

Restaurant managers serve an important function, and as a result, they’re well compensated. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pay among food service managers in 2018 was $58,960.

Match Your Career Choice With Your Preferences

If you’re looking for a career path that’s more hands-on and behind the scenes, then a career as a chef may be a good fit. Otherwise, if you’re seeking a route in which you’ll wear a lot of hats, perhaps it’s worth pursuing a career in restaurant management.

Either way, they’re two great fields in which you can explore your passion and be well compensated for it.

Start training for your career: Get information from local culinary programs.

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