” Why are chefs so poorly compensated? “ 2


Why are chef’s so poorly compensated ?
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Comment by John Rodriguez

“I remember in the 80’s and 90’s, Executive Chefs at top hotels were paid around
110,000 – 125,000 USD,now the same chef is making, well you guys know
(65,000- 85,000 USD)! so yes there are some truths in this! With all the young
talent fresh out of school our 20 some odd year professionals
salary caps have gone down “.

Seems to me the same thing is going on in other industries as well.  
In this age of  ” everything cookie cutter style “,
who need’s experienced managers anymore ?

For those who do not agree ask yourself
when is the last time
you got a substantial raise ?

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14 comments

  1. It is the same in any industry. It happened to me in the IT field. One day, we woke up to endless commercials for collages. It’s as if they took a queue from the pharmaceutical industry. They flood your brain with the notion that if you are within the sound of their voice, you too could go to school and fulfill all of your dreams in the (fill in the blank) career field. What actually happens, however, is the market is constantly flooded with mediocre employees that will take the jobs for far less than the positions worth… simply to have a job. Employers will hire based on a perceived notion that they have a certain level of skill because they are a graduate. That’s not to say that the newly trained wont one day become what is necessary, but most don’t have their heart in it. I see it every day at school… 10% have the drive and ambition. The rest just want to pass. Which, pretty much sums up their performance in the real world. Meanwhile, the cheaper labor drives the wages down. Those with real skill suffer less those found by employers with enough sense to understand what is happening. Back to my IT reference, I was working 100 + hours a week. I was being paid enough to do just that. But once un-employment went up and the government started paying for everyone (with or without aptitude) to take IT certification classes. IT jobs that once paid 50-80K a year now pay 20-25k (if you are lucky). You are in constant fear of layoff because management wants to cut the bottom dollar at any cost. I was laid off. And, no one would touch me for the salary I’m asking. They wouldn’t touch me for half. I most certainly won’t work the hours they demand for the price they are offering. Therefore, that is a big part of the poor compensation. Every other spam message or commercial on TV or add on the computer is an offer to go to school. Most of the time, offering training in saturated fields unless you are licensed (they don’t tell you that), but following the trend in which we speak, it should not be a shock. I think the uniquely specialized cooks/chefs will command the highest pay when needed for that particular specialty.

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  2. AS an Executive Chef with the Mercure Hotel Chain … I was paid an ordinary wage ( $50grand) BUT I had to work 80+ hours per week and be on call all the time incase anything “went wrong”. If something “went wrong” I had to go to work. The kind of thing that would normally go wrong was that a staff member would fail to show up for their shift. I did have a few perks e.g. a small flat and the use of a vehicle and some free alcohol. In the day ( 10 years) ago it was considered fairly good and it was supposed to be an honor to work with that chain. Everyweek when I received my payslip I noted that it always referred to 38 hours per week. Once I asked the General Manager about that and he just shrugged his shoulders and said something about Management always having to do extra hours. I told him I was not not doing some extra hours! I was doing more than double the normal week. Looking back I should have taken them to court.

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    1. Arno, You would not have gotten anywhere with a law suit.
      They have lawyers on the payroll and are ready for these lawsuits anytime 😦
      Happens to all of us. Part of being so dam “passionate” about our profession 🙂

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      1. Completely agree “OUR CRAZY PASSION”. If I have the chance to born again I’ll go for it……
        There’s a “High Price Price TO PAY” but cooking is our ADN SO ALL WE CAN DO IS TO KEEP THE GOOD FIGHT

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    1. Its so sad how we work so hard to please people but everyone would rather nickle and dime us or just disregard us and replace us with a new culinary grad all together just because they will accept less pay to get there career started. If we didn’t love it so much we wouldnt do it. Right? Oh well we will just have to keep on keepin on and one day it will come back to us. Keep up the good fight chefs!

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  3. i just wanted to point out ,everything that has been said is true,but also there’s chefs from other countries coming to u.s.a. and working for less,because their country is in a bigger depression then u.s.a., like Europeans. I’ve meet many. But the rub…if you try to apply to their country for i job, i was told no way,once for the s.s. France ship line, and in Canada was ask to leave the country,because at the time was told THERE WAS TO MANY Canadians out of work, Americans are,or were so-o-o dumb about things like this.anyone whats to come and work in the states,come on down, no problem. And because of this, management can keep on reducing the wages.

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  4. Reading the following replys,they all have merit.I’ve been in the the food industry for over forty years and have been through the industrial revolutions of the 70’s and 80’s and have seen all the positives and negatives that have been mentioned but what bothers me the most is how executives of all establishments small and large can allow or get away with padding the top salaried people and not properly takeing care of the rest of the core staff.The people in charge have a hard time understanding how valuable a well trained, positive, consistant culinary team can produce at maximum productiveaty and strengthen the bottom line.No raises,benefits or security for a chef who has so much passion and stress to make sure all food is properly taken care of,stored properly cooked to proper temperature codes.In the wroung hands could be DEADLY to customers and clients to small or large gatherings.All people in the food industry should be better taken care of!!

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  5. the Explosion of TV chef programs don,t help either It takes Chefs 15 -20 to become a master at our trade and they put on programs like masterchef which should be called mastercook they do all these cook offs for 4 people and win restaurants and tv promo so now everyone thinks the can cook Media is a powerful tool when someones sitting at home all of a sudden turns round and goes i can do that .Over here in Aus and UK they dropped City and Guilds and gone to NVQ competency based which is like common sense but there’s not much around anymore . To even try and get high profile jobs there’s even more to go through used to CV /Resume go to the chef now it got to go through several Human Resource Desks even before the Exec gets to see it (which is another split dept from the payroll days .it does not happen just in the US but world wide .
    its still a lot of who you know and whos willing to give someone a go . Just remember Kitchens are the one of the only revenue producing depts left they don’t have to eat in the hotel anymore and 20% capture rate is pretty good at the moment so the bean counters look at our dept all the time and say cut .
    Anyway that ‘s my Bitch for today

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