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Career Spotlight: Executive Chef

August 26, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Pittsburgh 0 Comments

As an executive chef in a professional kitchen, you're the boss. You'll manage all the other chefs and cooks, plan the menu, and ensure that food leaving the kitchen is consistently delicious and beautifully presented. You'll make sure your employees follow safety procedures and sanitation ordinances. You’ll also likely be responsible for recruiting, hiring, training, and firing kitchen staff.

What Does It Take to Get Pittsburgh Executive Chef Jobs?

The various titles of “chef” generally apply to more advanced roles in a professional kitchen (for example, Sous Chef, Executive Chef). Graduates of a culinary arts training program should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities and should not expect to become chefs upon graduation but are encouraged to work toward becoming a chef throughout the course of their careers. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.

In addition to creativity in the kitchen, becoming an executive chef requires a host of other non-cooking skills. They include:

  • Communication – As an executive chef you are first and foremost a manager of people. You must be able to effectively communicate your vision to your employers and business stakeholders
  • Organization – You must prioritize needs, put first things first, and effectively manage the resources of your kitchen
  • Planning – You must be able to determine whether tasks should be attempted, identifying the most effective way of completing the task, and preparing staff to manage unexpected outcomes
  • Delegation – You aren’t Super Man. You need to be able to assign skills to subordinates and be able to assess their skills in completing those tasks
  • Motivation – As the leader it is your job to build a team environment that motivates team members to perform at consistent levels of excellence

These skills, a lot of kitchen experience, and many other factors can help contribute to your pursuit of success as an executive chef. Continuing education and certification may also play a part in your success. The American Culinary Federation certifies executive chefs. Certification standards are based primarily on experience and formal training. Although certification is not required, it can help to prove accomplishment and lead to advancement potential.

As you can see, the job of a professional chef is much more than just being an excellent cook. It takes commitment, perseverance and a wide variety of business skills to succeed.

This article is presented by The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute offers Le Cordon Bleu culinary education classes and culinary training programs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Pittsburgh for more information.

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