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Chef

Chefs are managers who plan, direct and participate in food preparation and cooking activities in restaurants, hotels, institutions and other food establishments.

  • Avg. Salary $44,600.00
  • Avg. Wage $22.92
  • Minimum Education Varies
  • Outlook above avg
  • Employed 6,900
  • In Demand High
NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Executive Chefs (6241.1) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Chefs (G411) 
  • 2011 NOC: Chefs (6321) 
  • 2016 NOC: Chefs (6321) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

48%
48%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Not Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Interest Codes
The Chef is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Executive Chefs
DIRECTIVE

Interest in supervising` the activities of sous-chefs, specialist chefs, chefs and cooks; and in recruiting and hiring staff

METHODICAL

Interest in co-ordinating information to ensure food meets quality standards; may prepare and cook food on a regular basis or for special guests or functions

INNOVATIVE

Interest in planning menus

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated May 17, 2021

Chefs' duties and responsibilities vary from one organization to another but, in general, they:

  • Supervise cooks and other kitchen staff in the preparation, cooking and presentation of food
  • Order food and kitchen supplies based on quality, best price and budget
  • Check orders received for quantity and quality of product
  • Create new recipes to please customers
  • Create menus
  • Estimate kitchen labour and food costs, and modify menus to optimize profitability
  • Check the quality of raw and cooked food products, and presentation
  • Ensure that sanitation and occupational safety standards are maintained
  • Assist with staff development and training
  • Meet with other managers in the organization
  • Promote their establishments by practicing good public relations

There is an established hierarchy of chefs within a kitchen, known as the Brigade system, to increase how effectively a kitchen is run. The levels are:

  • Executive chef is at the top of the kitchen management structure. They usually only exist in larger organizations, and manage the “big picture” tasks of running multiple locations
  • Head chef controls the whole kitchen at a particular location. All kitchen staff at the location are managed by the head chef
  • Sous chef (second chef) is more hands-on in the kitchen area, and ensures the directions of the head chef are carried out by the rest of the kitchen crew. Smaller kitchens may not have a sous chef, while larger ones may have more than one
  • Chef de partie (line or station chefs) run a specific part (station) of the kitchen operation, such as salads, fryers, or grill

Where a number of chefs work for the same employer, they usually specialize in preparing particular types of foods. For example, they may be:

  • chefs saucier (sauce chefs) who prepare, season and cook meat and fish items and accompanying sauces, as well as soups, casseroles and related dishes
  • chefs garde manger (pantry chefs) who prepare and present salads, cold dishes and cold hors d'oeuvres and buffets
  • chefs entremetier (vegetable chefs) who prepare, cook and present vegetables, pasta and egg dishes
  • chefs patissier (pastry chefs) who prepare, cook and present desserts and pastries and may also prepare ice creams and sherbets

The smaller the kitchen operation, the more these roles will be combined and the fewer chefs will be present. Some food establishments may only employ one or two chefs, and their duties may even include bringing the meals out to the customers.

Working Conditions
Updated May 17, 2021

Working conditions for chefs vary with the type of organization. Large establishments may have modern equipment, well-lighted work areas and air conditioning. Older and smaller establishments may not be as well equipped.

Chefs frequently work in close quarters that can be very noisy, especially during busy periods. They must stand for hours at a time and work near hot ovens and grills. Some lifting up to 20 kilograms routinely is required. Some food establishments may have the kitchen area hidden from customer view, while others may have it visible, or even featured as a central focus of the establishment, as a form of entertainment.

Work hours vary depending on the type and size of the establishment. Prep work can begin in the early morning, and kitchens may be required to remain open until late evening after last call at liquor-serving establishments. Large establishments that are open 24 hours a day typically have 2 to 3 shifts a day. Holiday, weekend work and overtime is common.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated May 17, 2021

Chefs need:

  • A genuine love of food and cuisine
  • Artistic and creative talent
  • Good health and stamina
  • A keen sense of taste and smell
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Strong math skills
  • A memory for details
  • Communication skills, interpersonal skills and team-building skills
  • The ability to remain calm in hectic circumstances
  • Organizational skills

They should enjoy planning and organizing menus and methods, supervising the work of others, and using tools and equipment to perform tasks requiring precision.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Chefs
NOC code: 6321

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 55 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Sep 17, 2021 and Oct 25, 2021.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Train staff in preparation, cooking and handling of food
Supervise cooks and other kitchen staff
Prepare and cook food on a regular basis, or for special guests or functions
Instruct cooks in preparation, cooking, garnishing and presentation of food
Prepare and cook meals or specialty foods
Personal Suitability: Team player
Prepare dishes for customers with food allergies or intolerances
Personal Suitability: Organized
Maintain records of food costs, consumption, sales and inventory
Personal Suitability: Flexibility
Educational Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021

Almost all chefs have some technical qualification obtained through apprenticeship training or related post-secondary education.

Alberta has a formal apprenticeship program for cooks (for more information, see the Cook occupational profile).

In Alberta, food safety courses are offered by:

For a listing of approved food safety training options, check Alberta Health's Recognized food safety courses in Alberta list [pdf] or contact 780-427-7164.

The Government of Alberta awards a Food Sanitation and Hygiene Certification to those who complete approved training and achieve at least 70% on a provincial exam. Food facilities generally must employ at least 1 person who is certified. Where 6 or more people are working on site, at least 1 person present must be certified. Where fewer people are working on site, the certified person may be absent.

In addition to technical training, chefs usually require 3 to 6 years of experience in commercial food preparation. Some chefs work internationally to build their resume in foreign cuisines or to gain experience with a celebrity chef in major cities around the world.

The Canadian Culinary Institute (CCI) under the authority of the Canadian Culinary Federation, and in partnership with various learning schools, offers continuing education programs leading to the designation of Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) or the Certified Master Chef (CMC).

Applicants to the CCC program must have:

  • Valid Canadian Red Seal certification, or international equivalent
  • A current resume with at least 2 letters from employers confirming employment
  • 5 years of documented post-Red Seal certification employment, including at least 2 years in a supervisory role
  • A current valid Food Safe Handlers certification from a recognized accredited source

Applicants to the CMC program must have:

  • Valid Canadian Red Seal certification, or international equivalent
  • At least 8 years of post-Red Seal certification employment, with at least 5 years in a supervisory role
  • A CCC designation from CCI, or international equivalent
  • Minimum 3 years post-CCC certification experience in an executive-level position
  • A current valid Food Safe Handlers certification from a recognized accredited source
  • HACCAP (Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Points System) Levels 1 and 2
  • A current resume with work experience highlighted from the previous 8 years
  • A letter from the applicant describing why they seek the CMC designation
  • A signed letter of support from their employer

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Portage College

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated May 17, 2021

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

However, the Canadian Culinary Institute offers optional certification programs, as described under Related Education.

Employment & Advancement
Updated May 17, 2021

Most chefs are employed in privately owned restaurants or hotels, but some are employed by:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and personal care facilities
  • Civic and social organizations
  • Catering companies
  • Railway or cruise lines
  • Resorts

As chefs gain experience, they may advance from being line chefs to sous chef and executive chef positions, or purchase and manage their own establishments. Opportunities for advancement depend largely on acquiring better cooking and management skills. Graduates of technical or apprenticeship programs tend to advance more quickly than those who lack formal qualifications.

Chefs are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6321: Chefs. In Alberta, 83% of people employed in this classification work in the Accommodation and Food Services [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Accommodation and Food Services industry)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation

In Alberta, the 6321: Chefs occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.2% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 134 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated May 17, 2021

Salaries for chefs vary a great deal depending on the size and location of the establishment, volume of business and the chef's reputation.

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $15.00 $28.85 $20.53 $19.00
Overall $15.50 $32.69 $22.92 $21.63
Top $16.00 $39.90 $25.91 $24.26

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Accommodation & Food Services
ALL INDUSTRIES
Information, Culture, Recreation

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

48%
48%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

45%
45%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

7%
7%

Vacancy Rate

4%
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated May 17, 2021

Canadian Association of Food Service Professionals website: cafp.ca

Canadian Culinary Federation website: www.culinaryfederation.ca

Canadian Culinary Institute website: www.canadianculinaryinstitute.ca/index.html

National Restaurant Association [United States] website: restaurant.org

Restaurants Canada website: www.restaurantscanada.org

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated May 17, 2021. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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