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Chefs Make Less Than You Think

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#1 Jill-O

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:29 AM

Graphic that drives the point home:

Chefs Make Less Than You Think

For a career that requires a lot from its workers—expensive degrees, unpaid internships, bone-crunchingly long days—being a cook pays pretty crappy.

Not that it requires an expensive degree, but the rest is pretty true, IMO.

As someone who has an expensive degree that is required in one of the lowest paying fields (nonprofit admin./social work) I get it more than most.
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#2 gturillo

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:48 AM

I have a very good friend that went to culinary school. She now works for a large company here in Portland, totally non-food related company/job because the food-related salary she was earning here sucked. Choices. Some people do what they love no matter what the salary and others go for the high salary that comes with a job they don't love. She can do a lot more now than she could on her food-related salary. She can do a lot more than her boyfriend who is a sous-chef at a pretty nice restaurant here in town. He, however, LOVES his job!

#3 jafar

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 10:48 AM


It looks like the way to go is chef/owner if you can swing it. I'm assuming that the numbers there are for salary and don't include equity or profit from the business.

#4 iclimb1998

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 06:43 PM

That's for a chef de cuisine position.
An executive chef in a resort situation will make twice that but go to an early grave.
A hot shot pastry chef can easily make that much in the right town.
Talent will out, but you need to have the managerial finesse as well.
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#5 ExtraMSG

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:02 PM

The kicker comes after the graphic:

Huh, that doesn't sound that bad! But wait. StarChefs.com's respondents are drawn from particularly high-end restaurants: 69 percent of them come from "small group" or single-unit independent restaurants. In other words, fine dining, not the Cheesecake Factory. This is what a group of fairly elite cooks make.

You think anyone at the Hotcake House puts "chef de cuisine" on their business card (aka, blue pen on a napkin)?

The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was. ~Brillat-Savarin

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#6 Joisey

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 07:44 AM

The pay is shit, but either you're in it for the love or you're bailing for 9-5. In my illustrious career, here are some of the salaries I've made:

Union Cook at a Casino: 15 bucks an hour, 30 bucks a week for unlimited family benefits
Chef at a very small Bistro-type joint in NE PDX: 12 bucks an hour plus tip share, no benefits
Chef at a mid-sized upscale place in Lake Oswego: 36K/year, no benefits
Chef at a "Boutique Inn in the Columbia Gorge" (LOL): 48K/year, no benefits
Senior Sous Chef at a downtown Hotel: 40K/year, very expensive benefits (The chef made a little over double what I made)
Cook at a corporate dining facility: 12 bucks an hour, great benefits. The chefs in this company make excellent money, which is why I'm hanging around.

If you think I'm crass for sharing this information, I don't care. For some reason (nobody wants others to know how little they are paid?) there is a shroud of secrecy around cook/chef salaries. I'm always honest to people because I don't want to blow the same smoke up someone's ass that I heard when I was in school so many years ago.

It's worthy to note that the jobs I made the least amount of money were the most enjoyable ones I've held. That's where the love comes in.

#7 Jill-O

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Posted 16 October 2010 - 07:57 AM

Don't think it is crass at all, Joisey. In fact, I find it really interesting, and I think folks need to get it through their heads how hard most chefs work for ridiculously little money. And younger folks who might be interested in entering the field should get real deal info like that...they mostly don't get it at all.

Like I said, I get it more than most because I am in a similar field in a lot of ways...that and I've worked in commercial kitchens where the pay is even less. And I am about to embark on a path where I am, again, going to take a pay cut. I'll be lucky to be making what I made over 20 years ago at my first job out of grad school...it's almost laughable, really. But we all do what we must, no?

Crossing my fingers for ya, Joisey, that you get to move up where you are and that you get what you want.

And yeah, ""Boutique Inn in the Columbia Gorge" Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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