Chef  What They Do

Just the Facts


Chefs and Head Cooks Career Video



Directs and participates in the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of soups, meats, fish, vegetables, salads, desserts, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts.

This career is part of the Hospitality and Tourism cluster Restaurants and Food/Beverage Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Monitors sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.
  • Checks the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
  • Estimates amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.
  • Instructs cooks or other workers in the preparation, cooking, garnishing, or presentation of food.
  • Supervises or coordinates activities of cooks or workers engaged in food preparation.
  • Inspects supplies, equipment, or work areas to ensure conformance to established standards.
  • Orders or requisitions food or other supplies needed to ensure efficient operation.
  • Determines production schedules and staff requirements necessary to ensure timely delivery of services.
  • Checks the quantity and quality of received products.
  • Determines how food should be presented and creates decorative food displays.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Banquet Chef --
  • Certified Executive Chef (CEC) --
  • Chef, Instructor --
  • Cook -- Prepares and cooks a wide variety of foods in restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other health care institutions, central food commissaries, educational institutions and other establishments.
  • Corporate Executive Chef --
  • Executive Chef (Ex Chef) --
  • Executive Sous Chef --
  • Head Cook -- Hires and trains new cooks, orders produce and meats, oversees all aspects of the restaurant and may stand in for the chef when the chef is away,
  • Line Cook -- Holds down one station on a restaurant line and can be expected to perform a range of duties related to the station.