search
Loading
|  home | feedback | help          
StarChefs
Salary Survey
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005

CATEGORIES:

$ Salaries

$ Experience

$ Education

$ Time Spent at Work

$ Professional Mobility

$ Health Insurance

$ Race

$ Executive Chef Profiles by Age Group

$ Women

To offer your feedback, or
for additional information about the StarChefs.com survey and results, including specific questions or categories of information that you would like to see as part of next year’s survey,
click here.

 

 

 

 

 

2007 StarChefs.com Salary Survey

By Heather Sperling and JJ Proville
May 2008

To see our most recent Salary Survey results, click here

The culinary industry used to have the reputation of lots of work and little pay, but with chefs on TV, chefs traveling around the world, and chefs with groupies, the industry’s glam factor has certainly increased.

It’s fun to marvel at the way the industry has changed since the dawn of Food TV, but at the end of the day, it’s not about the hype. Professional cooking remains one of the few apprenticeship-based professions; it’s a labor of love, and you’ve got to pay your dues. But what do those dues look like? According to this year’s survey, they’re not as bad as you’d think. And fortunately for those wearing the whites, the compensation for long hours, high temperatures, and sore lower backs is growing by the year.

This year’s national average executive chef salary is $77,611 (a 2.5% increase over 2005), with average executive chef salaries in LA, New York and San Francisco weighing in at $120,000. The average starting salary (1-4 years in the industry) is $33,700. The average number of hours worked per day by executive chefs, sous chefs and line cooks is 11. If we assume a 5 or 6 day workweek, that levels out at between 55 and 66 hours per week (not too bad – we thought it would be more!).

The country’s culinary scene is more dynamic and more varied than ever, eager audiences continue to spend their dollars on food despite rumors of an economic slump (link to economy survey results), and the range of ingredients, tools, techniques and styles is growing every day, leaving no doubt that it’s a good time to be in food.

Note: This year’s data comes from 1730 respondents hailing from all 50 states. The largest percentage (27%) of respondents is in fine dining, and 37% of respondents are executive chefs.

Without further ado:

THE STATS
Salaries
Experience
Education
Time Spent at Work
Professional Mobility
Health Insurance
Race
Executive Chef Profiles by Age Group
Women

Salaries
Salaries in the Industry: 2004 vs. 2005 vs. 2007
The pundits say the country is headed for an economic slump, but foodservice industry salaries have been steadily climbing since 2004, and growth rates are stronger than 2004 to 2005.

The salaries in the chart below are national averages, but average salaries in major cities tend to be higher. Executive chefs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City average a salary of around $120,000, with Chicago coming close behind with $100,000. Miami, Atlanta, and DC follow with an average of $80,000.

National Salary Averages

Job Title

2004

2005

2006

2007

% Increase
from 2006

Executive Chef

$74,694

$75,596

$73,260

$77,611

5.9%

Executive Sous Chef

$49,620

$52,714

$54,934

$55,679

1.3%

Sous Chef

$39,275

$39,305

$40,375

$42,104

4.3%

Pastry Chef*

$47,865

$50,581

$48,818

$53,017

8.6%

Corporate Chef

-

-

-

$86,932

-

Line Cook

$11.20
(hourly)

$12.64
(hourly)

$12.40
(hourly)

$13.07
(hourly)

5.4%

*Includes “Pastry Chef” and “Executive Pastry Chef”

Salary Averages by State

 

California

New York

Florida

Executive Chefs

$86,240

$97,306

$76,522

Executive Sous Chefs

$54,833

$59,000

$64,000

Sous Chef

$44,833

$46,950

$43,700

Executive Pastry Chefs

$56,550

$72, 000

$66,286

Salaries for Executive Chefs by City

DC

Boston

Vegas

Chicago

LA

SF

NYC

Miami

ATL

$81,375

$72,000

$77,625

$98,227

$112,625

$109,750

$112,104

$80,929

$120,750

National Executive Chef Salaries by Age

Age Group

20-29

30-39

40-49

50-59

60-69

Average Salary

$60,259

$73,299

$86,545

$85,972

$86,428

Average Salary by Restaurant Type
Fine Dining

Executive Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Pastry Chef

Line Cook

$78,348

$60,118

$64,975

$29,429

Upscale Casual

Executive Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Pastry Chef

Line Cook

$69,708

$46,100

$58,650

$42,429

Hotel

Executive Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Pastry Chef

$86,066

$58,333

$58,440

Country Club/ Private Organization

Executive Chef

$87,068

Line cooks seem to do better in the upscale casual setting, which may be attributable to the fact that fine dining line cooks typically work in kitchens with more staff (almost half of line cooks that completed the survey work in kitchens with less than 25 employees).

Experience
Pay attention all you soon-to-be culinary school grads – the path from graduate to chef isn’t a short one. Chefs have an average of 15 to 20 years of experience under their belts; executive pastry chefs have an average of 17 years. Executive chefs with six-figure salaries have an average of 24 years of industry experience.

In an industry where success is ultimately based on job experience, it pays to put in the time.

Average Industry Experience by Position

 

Business Owner

Executive Chef

Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive
Pastry
Chef

Pastry Chef

Years of Experience

18

20

15

15

17

12

Average Position Salaries By Years of Experience

Years of Experience

5 to 8

9 to 12

13 to 15

16 to 20

21 to 25

26 to 30

Executive Chef

$64,240

$66,885

$72,691

$76,633

$84,610

$88,538

Executive Pastry

$43,600

$56,500

$63,781

$69,000

$66,500

$54,750

Education
To culinary school or not to culinary school…that is the question. And most of the 400-odd chefs we interview as we travel across the country each year have a mixed answer. It’s not necessary if you’ve already started working in restaurants, they say, and it won’t teach you about a real-life kitchen, but most all agree that it’s a good way to get a foundation, and get a step ahead of the rest.

Our culture puts a premium on education, and we expect to see a continued rise in the number of culinary school grads in the coming years. Here’s the current national breakdown for culinary school and other educational ventures:

71% of the culinary industry has a savory or pastry degree
25% has a bachelors degree
4% has a graduate degree

The most commonly attended culinary school is Culinary Institute of America (10% have a degree from there), with Johnson and Wales (7%) and the French Culinary Institute (6%) close behind.

International Travel and Stages
30% of female and 42% of male culinary professionals have worked outside the United States. The majority have worked in France (27%) with Great Britain following at 19%, and Italy and Spain at 13% and 12%, respectively.

Staging remains one of the best ways to gain hands-on exposure to a chef’s kitchen, philosophies, and techniques, and one of the only ways to gain access to an international kitchen (barring a hard-to-get work visa, of course). Staging is a standard way to “try out” for a position, but it’s also a standard way to learn. People spend 4 years trying to get a stage at el Bulli, but there are plenty of other stage-worthy places (South America, for one) worth considering.

 

Percentage
that worked
outside the
United States:

Where Worked
(largest
percentages only)

Have you
done unpaid
externship
or stage?

How Long?
(largest percentages only)

Executive Chef

54%

France, UK, Italy

56%

21% did 2-4 months

Executive Sous Chef

38%

France, Italy

59%

27% did 2-4 months

Pastry Chef*

39%

France, Germany

55%

29% did 2-4 months

*includes “Executive Pastry Chef” and “Pastry Chef”

Time Spent at Work
9 to 14 hour days remain the standard for the culinary industry.

Number of Hours Worked per Day, by Position

Hours

Executive Chef

Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Executive Pastry Chef

Pastry Chef

Line Cook

5 to 8

7%

19%

6%

6%

6%

21%

30%

9 to 11

54%

46%

45%

45%

47%

50%

52%

12 to 14

35%

30%

40%

40%

40%

22%

14%

15 to 17

3%

4%

7%

7%

6%

5%

3%

Over 18

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

Professional Mobility
Once you take the culinary plunge, what are your options? There’s a ton of turnover, but what about mobility?

42% of culinary professionals have changed jobs 1 to 2 times in the last 5 years. 23% haven’t changed at all, and 24% have changed 3 to 4 times.

A quarter have changed departments, i.e. savory to pastry, kitchen to catering, and so on. Within that group, the most common moves are:

Savory to Pastry: 16%
Pastry to Savory: 10%
Kitchen to Catering: 9%
Kitchen to Instructor: 8%

Of the female respondents, 34% said they had changed departments, and 22% of those had gone from savory to pastry.

 43% have been in their current position for 2 to 4 years and one quarter (26%) of the industry has changed positions in the last 10 years. Here are the main moves we’re seeing:

Health Insurance
80% of food industry employees are offered health insurance through their employers, and 80% of them take advantage of it. 60% of these employers cover between 75-100% of the cost.

While 70% of independent restaurants offer insurance, the number grows to nearly 100% in hotel, country club, and private club settings.

Race
Race Breakdown by Position

 

Catering Chef

Corporate Chef

Executive Chef

Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Sous Chef

Line Cook

Executive Pastry Chef

Pastry
Chef

African American

9%

6%

5%

4%

4%

5%

5%

3%

8%

American Indian or Alaskan Native

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

2%

0%

0%

Asian

2%

1%

5%

6%

12%

5%

5%

9%

12%

Caucasian

65%

77%

79%

72%

67%

74%

69%

72%

63%

Hispanic or Latino

11%

14%

7%

10%

9%

10%

15%

7%

10%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

0%

1%

0%

0%

1%

1%

1%

3%

2%

I prefer not to answer

12%

1%

5%

8%

7%

6%

3%

7%

6%


Executive Chefs: Profiles by Age
Who’s running kitchens across the country? Here are snapshots of executive chefs by age groups – where they are, what kind of restaurant they’re running, how much experience they have under their belt, and more. 

20 to 29
Gender: 13% female
Where Most of You Are: California, New York and New Jersey, followed by Ohio and Texas.
Type of Restaurant: upscale casual followed by fine dining
Experience: 59% have 9 to12 years of experience
Pay/year: 44% make $44,000-$59,000
Hard Labor Time: half work over 60 hours a week
Health Insurance: over half of respondents have 75% or the entire plan paid for by employer
Education: 68% have degrees 

30 to 39
Gender: 7% female
Where Most of You Are: California and New York
Type of Restaurant: fine dining followed by casual upscale
Experience: 61% have 13 to 20 years of experience
Pay/year: 50% make $50,000-$80,000 and 10% make $100,000-$150,000
Hard Labor Time: half work over 60 hours a week
Health Insurance: well over half have 75% or the entire plan paid for by employer
Education: 67% have degrees

40 to 49
Gender: 10% female
Where Most of You Are: Mostly in New York, followed by California and Florida
Type of Restaurant:  fine dining and country club/private
Experience: 61% have 21 to 30 years of experience
Pay/year: 17% make $100,000-$150,000
Hard Labor Time: just under half work 60 hours a week
Health Insurance: 40% half have 75% or the entire plan paid for by employer
Education: 65% have degrees

50 to 59
Gender: 16% female
Where Most of You Are: spread out evenly between California, New York, Florida, Texas
Type of Restaurant: country club private followed by hotel dining followed by upscale casual
Experience: 63% have more than 26 years of experience
Pay/year: 25% make $100,000-$150,000
Hard Labor Time: 19% work over 60 hours a week
Health Insurance: most employers pay 75% or whole thing
Education: 53% have degrees

Women in the Industry
Women in the restaurant industry are faced with a specific set of challenges – while there’s no difference in talent and capabilities, the position’s demand don’t make it easy to bear children and run a kitchen at the same time. It’s been a man’s game, but women are catching up
– today they make up just under one quarter (22%) of the culinary industry.

47% of women surveyed work in savory, and 34% in pastry. 15% are executive chefs – for comparison, 39% of men surveyed are executive chefs.

Salaries Compared by Gender:

Job Title

Salary - Women

Salary - Men

Executive Chef

$76, 517

$78,357

Executive Pastry Chef

$59,075

$59,620

Sous Chef

$40,500

$44,231

Women in the Industry: Race Profile

 

Total

Business Owner

Executive Chef

Chef

Executive Sous Chef

Sous Chef

Line Cook

Executive Pastry Chef

Pastry Chef

African American

5%

2%

7%

4%

0%

13%

7%

4%

6%

American Indian or Alaskan Native

1%

2%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Asian

9%

2%

7%

7%

50%

4%

18%

4%

11%

Caucasian

75%

80%

77%

74%

50%

83%

64%

92%

69%

Hispanic or Latino

6%

7%

5%

4%

0%

0%

7%

0%

11%

Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

2%

I prefer not to answer

4%

7%

4%

11%

0%

0%

4%

0%

2%


Who are They?
The majority of women are in the 30 to 39 age range; here’s a snapshot of who they are: 

Most are pastry chefs, followed by executive chefs, pastry cooks and executive pastry chefs. The majority make from $50,000 to $64,000. 69% have a savory or pastry culinary degree, and 41% have a bachelors degree (way to go, ladies)!

And Where are They?
California: 33% of respondents were female
New York: 29% of respondents were female
Illinois: 27% of respondents were female
Massachusetts: 24% of respondents were female
Florida: 18% of respondents were female


^ Top of page




 Sign up for our newsletters!|Print this page|Email this page to a friend
 QuickMeals   Chefs   Rising Stars   Hospitality Jobs   Find a School   Wine   Community   Features   Food Events   News   Ask the Experts   Tickets   Cookbooks
About Us | Career Opportunities | Media Kit | StarChefs in the News | Site Map
Please help keep StarChefs a free service by displaying our button on your website. Click here for details.
  Copyright © 1995-2014 StarChefs. All rights reserved.  | Privacy Policy