The culinary world isn't just about learning the perfect way to poach an egg or the exact temperature to set your grill for the best sear. The life of a chef can be busy and hectic, and kitchens require experienced chefs and staff to make sure that the menu is showcased properly.
Getting To The Top
It’s almost impossible to assume the role of executive chef without earning valuable experience in other roles first. The resume of an executive chef is robust—full of previous work experience that has helped mold who you are in the culinary world.
Executive chefs are usually required to have at least seven years of previous experience. Valuable work experiences to include on your resume include demonstrating food preparation skills, developing and pricing menus, managing food and labor costs, and leading a culinary team.
To become an executive chef, you should have a bachelor’s degree in the culinary arts or in a related area such as food service or hospitality. Chefs with an associate degree can rely on additional work experience to improve their job opportunities. In the rare case, some individuals get their start through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship program, working their way up without any formal education.
In addition to work experience, executive chefs should have good customer skills and possess a strong ability to lead and manage a diverse group of people. You should also be creative and have a keen sense of smell and taste.
While not required, the American Culinary Federation offers a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) designation. This certification can help executive chefs move into advanced positions that can lead to higher paying jobs.
Enjoy Working Your Way Up
If you want to be the executive chef in a restaurant, put in your time at culinary school, take any and every position you can get in the kitchen, and go after certifications to show potential employers your dedication to learning the field. It will take some time, but you’ll love things about every step of the way, even in the lesser positions. And you'll be glad you put the extra effort in when you have that prime position!