Head Chef

Job Description:

Head chefs oversee a restaurant's staff, food and budgets.

Job Category:
Food & Drink

What you will do:

You could:

  • plan menus and create new dishes
  • research and find new ingredients and catering equipment
  • present new ideas to restaurant managers and owners
  • make sure food is of the right quality and price
  • manage stock and order food from suppliers
  • control a budget and keep accurate records
  • manage health and hygiene procedures
  • organise and supervise the team preparing and presenting food
  • recruit, train and develop staff


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of food production methods
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • leadership skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • the ability to organise your time and workload
  • the ability to use your initiative (drive)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Head Chef, you typically do not need specific GCSE subjects, but a strong educational foundation and relevant skills and experience are essential. Here are some GCSE subjects and other considerations that can help you prepare for a career as a Head Chef:

  1. English and Math: Strong communication and math skills are essential in any profession, including the culinary field. Good English skills are necessary for reading recipes, communicating with staff, and writing menus. Math skills are essential for measurements and portion control.
  2. Science: While not required, taking a science subject like Chemistry can help you understand the science behind cooking, such as chemical reactions and the role of different ingredients.
  3. Food Technology or Catering: If your school offers these subjects, they can be very beneficial. They provide practical knowledge related to cooking techniques, food safety, and menu planning.
  4. Art and Design: Creativity is a significant aspect of being a Head Chef, as you’ll be responsible for creating visually appealing dishes. Art and design subjects can help you develop an eye for aesthetics and presentation.
  5. Work Experience: While not a GCSE subject, gaining work experience in a kitchen is invaluable. Consider part-time jobs, internships, or apprenticeships in restaurants or catering establishments to gain hands-on experience.
  6. Culinary School or College: After completing your GCSEs, you may choose to enroll in a culinary school or college program that offers formal training in culinary arts. This can provide you with essential skills and knowledge in food preparation, kitchen management, and more.

Post School

You could get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

You could take a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in:

  • culinary arts
  • hospitality management
  • professional cookery

A course with industry placements will help you to gain experience and may give you an advantage when looking for work.

You could do a college course like a Diploma In Advanced Professional Cookery or Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts.

You could take chef de partie or senior chef advanced apprenticeship.

You could also do a senior culinary chef higher apprenticeship.

These will take between 12 to 24 months to complete.

You may also be able to do this role in the armed forces.

Most head chefs work their way up after starting in a job like a kitchen assistant, before working as a section chef and building up their skills and experience.

You’ll also need a qualification in food safety.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a restaurant, in an NHS or private hospital or on a cruise ship.

Your working environment may be hot and humid.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could go on to manage larger kitchens and more staff. You may work for a large restaurant chain, managing more than one kitchen. This is a management role, so cooking duties could be limited.

You could also set up your own business, running your own restaurant or franchise. Some head chefs go on to set up their own restaurant brand.