What qualifications do executive chefs need and how much do they make?

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Head chefs must have a Chef de Cuisine designation or a culinary arts diploma as well as a Red Seal — the interprovincial standards program that provides skilled workers with mobility across Canada by encouraging the standardization of training and certification programs.

There are a wide number of institutions in Canada offering diploma, associate and bachelor degree programs in culinary arts, and, depending on the program, this can take one to four years to complete. Internships are often part of these programs.

Courses include food preparation, sanitation, kitchen management, basic nutrition, food style, food history, gastronomy, recipe specifications, pastry theory, wine appreciation, communication, food costing and ethnic cuisines as well as many other areas.

Regardless of the education a chef has received, most professional kitchens follow the apprenticeship system and most new chefs begin working at a lower-level chef de partie position and work their way up.  Chefs must be thoroughly familiar with safety requirements, safe work pratices and health regulations pertaining to food preparation and service.

An average base salary for an executive chef is about $58, 471, but can vary greatly depending on the establishment. If working as a personal chef for a wealthy individual or a corporation, an executive chef could command several hundred thousands dollars annually.

Published on December 7, 2011
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