An executive chef or head cook is responsible for supervising a kitchen staff in a variety of culinary backdrops, from full-service restaurants to hotels and resorts. The salary of an executive chef depends on several factors, including the chef's overall level of training and responsibility in the restaurant. Usually, the more control a chef has the over the menu, the higher his rate of pay.
National Employment Numbers
As of May 2010, over 90,000 executive chefs and head cooks found employment in restaurants and other hospitality destinations across the country. These numbers represent a more than 2 percent increase in total nationwide employment from the previous year. The mean annual wage for these professionals was $44,780, or a mean hourly wage of $21.53 during that year. These financial figures represent a 1.3 percent increase in mean wages from 2009. The middle 50 percent of all chefs and head cooks in the United States earned an annual salary of $40,630 or an hourly wage of $19.53 as of May 2010.
Full Service Restaurants
Over 46,000 executive chefs and head cooks found employment in full-service restaurants as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is the largest employing industry for chefs and cooks in the country. Head chefs and cooks working in full-service restaurants earned a mean annual wage of $42,420 or a mean hourly wage of $20.40 as of May 2010. Annual pay may vary depending on the employing restaurant, including the specific cuisine served and the overall skill necessary to create dishes.
Hotels and Resorts
Executive chefs and head cooks may also find employment in the traveler accommodation industry, including hotels and resorts. Chefs working in hotels and resorts create menus for in-house restaurants and manage kitchens for room service orders and guest banquets.This industry employed over 10,000 head chefs and cooks as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean annual wage of head chefs and cooks working in the traveler accommodation industry was $51,900 or a mean hourly wage of $24.95 as of May 2010.
Highest and Lowest Earners
The top 10 percent of all executive chefs and head cooks across the country earned a mean annual wage of $70,960 or a mean hourly wage of $34.11 as of May 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest 10 percent of these professionals earned a mean annual wage of $23,260 or a mean hourly wage of $11.18 during the same year. There are several reasons for this wide salary gulf from top to bottom. Factors include the geographic area where chefs find employment and the quality of restaurant. Chefs usually have less control over menus of corporate establishments, resulting in a lower rate of pay.