The Average Salary of a Four-Star Restaurant Chef


With the trend of chefs becoming celebrities, it seems likely that chefs would make celebrity-like salaries. But while it’s true that chefs with their own restaurants, shows and books can make a lot of money, that is not the case with most chefs, even those who work for four-star restaurants.

General Salaries

According to Star Chefs, executive chefs earned an average of $74,869 in 2008, which was down 3.5 percent from 2007. Compare this to pastry chefs who saw their salaries fall 13 percent between 2007 and 2008. The reason given was that restaurants of all types were cutting their budgets because of the poor economy. Under those circumstances, pastry chefs are easier to let go than executive chefs.

Four-Star Restaurant Salaries

Hotel restaurants pay the most for their chef staff. The reason for this is? “As they are often associated with large corporations, they can afford to pay more,” according to Star Chefs. The average salary of an executive chef for a hotel restaurant in 2008 was $84,443. Private and country clubs paid their executive chefs an average of $81,328 a year. Chefs at independent fine-dining restaurants earned an average of $74,620 a year and executive chefs at independent upscale casual restaurants earned an average of $62,896. Nearly half of chefs did not receive a year-end bonus in 2008 while 14 percent received an extra $5,000 or more as a bonus.

Salary By Location

Larger cities and states are more likely to have four-star restaurants. Executive chefs in New York earned an average of $81,600, making it the state that pays the most for chefs, followed by California and Florida. The highest-paying city for executive chefs was Miami, Florida, where executive chefs earned an average of $90,333 a year. Boston, Massachusetts; San Francisco, California; New York City, New York; Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois, were the next-highest paying cities, according to Star Chefs.


Executive chefs work long hours to earn their pay. In 2008, 53.4 percent of executive chefs said that they worked nine to 11 hours a day and another 38.4 percent said they worked 12 to 14 hours a day. Only 10 percent of executive chefs said they worked less than 46 hours a week and 18.8 percent said they worked more than 60 hours a week.

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