A Catering Chef's Salary Range

Catering chefs, also referred to as catering directors or simply caterers, provide off-site food services to dinners and events at both private residences and businesses. Catering chefs are responsible for menu conception, food preparation, serving and cleaning up after the meal. Some caterers work independently while others employ large staffs.

  1. Salary

    • According to May, 2010 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs in the special food services industry earn an average salary of $21.90 per hour, or $45,550 per year. These figures are echoed by the online culinary resource Culinary World, which places the average annual salary of catering directors at $48,000 per year. These figures are very close to the national mean average for chefs and head cooks across all food service industries, which according to BLS data is $44,780 per year or $21.53 per hour.

    Factors Affecting Salary

    • Culinary versatility and marketing ability are the two major factors that affect the earnings of catering chefs. The ability to create cuisine from a vast array of cultures and styles allows caterers to adapt to specific client needs, a major advantage when soliciting new business. Effective self-promotion and networking is also key for caterers to generate a regular customer base that can continue to generate long-term profits. Like all successful chefs, catering chefs must also be punctual, organized and reliable.

    Industry Salary Comparison

    • According to BLS data, caterers earn relatively competitive salaries when compared to chefs in other food service industries. Chefs employed in the rooming and boarding house industry average just $37,630 annually, some 18 percent less than those employed in special food services. Chefs employed by full-service restaurants and the cruise ship industry also earn less than caterers, with reported annual salaries of $42,420 and $43,330 respectively.

    Relevant Background and Skills

    • Aspiring catering chefs should possess some culinary experience at either the food service or institutional level. While formal training, such as an associates degree in culinary arts, is not required to begin a catering business, it can offer several significant advantages in the realms of food preparation, storage and presentation. Catering chefs must be self-starters who are highly organized and who possess the leadership skills necessary to lead a small staff through the conception and completion of catering events without flaw.

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