A chef is a professional cook who creates and prepares food for clients, a restaurant or an organization. In a retirement community, an executive chef creates menus and prepares palate-pleasing dishes for residents. The meals presented not only must have a great taste but also provide the nutritional content needed by the elderly residents.
Employers prefer a culinary arts degree or a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. Along with education, employers prefer chefs with at least three years of culinary management experience. Credentials such as the Certified Executive Chef, Certified Dietary Manager or ServeSafe certification can increase employment opportunities. Certain elderly care facilities prefer credentials related to food preparation, nutrition and safety.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 640 chefs worked in community care facilities for the elderly and earned an average salary of $44,100 per year in 2010. The salary of a chef in this industry varies based on the size of the retirement community and the chef’s professional experience. Salaries ranged from $28,380 to $60,970 per year for the 10th through 90th percentiles, while the 25th percentile earned $34,710 per year, and the 75th percentile earned $51,100 per year, according to the BLS.
Certain chefs in this industry earn hourly wages, according to the BLS. The average hourly wage was $21.20 in 2010. Hourly wages in the bureau’s 10th through 90th percentiles ranged from $13.65 to $29.31 per hour. The 25th percentile earned $16.69 per hour, and the 75th percentile earned $24.57 per hour. Those who worked overtime earned an average of $31.80 per hour.
Overall employment of executive chefs and related food services supervisors is expected to increase about 6 percent through 2018. Because of an increasing elderly population, the construction of new retirement communities and elder-care facilities is expected to increase during the decade. These new facilities will lead to increased job openings for executive chefs in this specific industry sector.