When you write the resume for your next chef job think of it as your recipe for success.
Start with a crisp, clean objective statement, then list your skills, just as you would list the ingredients for a good dish. You’ll need to show the experience you’ve had as well as education, additional courses you may have done over the years, and any certifications you have.
Round out the final document with a pinch of creativity and some good, down-to-earth flavor. See the full resume sample provided at the bottom for reference.
Resume objective for a chef
You probably know the objectives you have for your career as a chef. This is what makes you tick and keeps you working at the top of your game. But when you apply for a new job, you’re going to need to make sure that the objective you write on your resume meets the needs of the person wanting to employ a chef.
There are many different chef positions available from the top dog position of executive chef and second-in-charge sous chef to chefs who take responsibility for specific roles.
But when you write your resume objective, you must be sure that it meets the expectations of the person or establishment looking for a chef with particular skills.
There will be similarities, but even the objectives required for an executive or sous chef might differ. So read the requirements carefully.
The objective below has been written in response to a position offered for an executive chef at a hotel. Cooking and management skills are required.
Experienced former executive sous chef ready to enhance food products presented to guests. Market research skills. Good team player willing to be a leader and role model. Wide variety of skills relating to food ordering, preparation, production, and control of food and banqueting.
Resume skills for chefs
Chefs need different skills at different levels. For example, a chef de partie is really not much more than a line chef or cook, which is normally just one step up from a prep cook. However, in some job situations, the chef de partie (also known as the station chef) may be assigned to a specific menu specialty in which he or she has shown excellence.
A saucier or sauté chef needs to be particularly adept at preparing sauces, though he or she might also be required to sauté food, make hot hors d’œuvres, and even make stews and casseroles. A pastry chef will specialize in pastries.
A sous chef is second-in-command below the head or executive chef but, unlike his senior, usually does a lot more cooking. The skills required to be an executive chef are largely managerial, although it is imperative to have sound knowledge and experience in the world of cooking and fine cuisine.
Just as your resume objective must cater to the job opportunity you are pursuing, so too must the skills that you list.
The sample skills listed below relate to a position as a chef de cuisine who will assist the executive chef in running a fine dining restaurant in a hotel.
Fluent English & Spanish | Culinary expertise | Kitchen management | Food handler certification | Thorough knowledge of hotel services and amenities | Strong verbal and written skills | Quick and accurate | Adaptable | Clear thinker | Confidentiality | Clean and tidy | Microsoft Office
Chef work experience
Experience is important for any job, but the specific experience required will depend on the position you are applying for. For instance, you won’t get a job as an executive chef unless you’ve worked your way up the ladder, possibly from a prep cook or line chef. And even these positions require some kind of experience.
Internships are a great way to build up on-the-job training and experience. Most colleges and universities will help students find internships and externships. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has more than 2,000 approved locations where students are placed for a semester-long internship that helps make a resume look really great.
Most US employers don’t expect line chefs to have a formal education, but they do expect some work experience, if only at a community college or vocational school that offers culinary education classes.
Many sous chef jobs accept applicants with one or two, maybe three years experience. But if you are applying for a job as an executive chef, you’re going to need substantially more experience.
Sample Work Experience
Chef de Cuisine, 2017 – 2019
Supported the executive chef in overseeing everyday culinary operations. Maintained inventory levels. Ensured plate presentation was correct and consistent.
- Introduced checklists to ensure that culinary staff were following through with their daily tasks
- Managed large parties in the dining room
- Supervised the development and training of kitchen staff to ensure the highest quality of food and food service for club members and their guests.
- Trained about 20 new members of staff
Pinehurst Golf Club
Saucier Chef, 2014 – 2016
Prepared all soups and sauces. Cooked using various methods using the Club’s specified recipes. Controlled portions and garnished dishes.
- Worked closely with the sous chefs on duty and helped with numerous banquets
- Devised several new soup and sauce recipes
- From 2015, took responsibility for the appearance of buffet and plated food
- Regularly stood in for the sous chef at banquet event order (BEO) meetings
There are surprisingly varied education openings for those pursuing a career as a chef. These range from diplomas and associate degrees to bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts. There are even master’s programs.
There are culinary and cooking schools throughout the country. There are also many continuing education opportunities that cover everything from food preparation, development of recipes, and cooking skills, to food safety and sanitization, and professional kitchen organization.
You are unlikely to get a job as an executive or sous chef without a formal education, but you can certainly join the lower ranks with just a modicum of training. For instance, a line cook (also sometimes called a line chef) is usually trained on the job.
Need more? Check out our food and beverage resumes
The Culinary Institute of America, 2018 – 2019
Master’s in Wine Management
The Culinary Institute of America, 2014 – 2017
Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) in Culinary Arts
- Completed a 10-week paid externship with Metz Culinary Management and 5 weeks with a top New York restaurant
Chaffey College, 2015 – 2016
Associate degree in Culinary Arts
International Career Institute (ICI), 2016
Diploma in Catering and Cooking
- Completed the course in 6 months
Courses that will help aspirant chefs get a better job typically cover all the elements of meals from appetizers to desserts. They also cover the range of foods that every type of chef needs to know how to prepare including fish and meat, baking and pastry, and international cuisine, which, in itself, is extremely varied.
You can take courses at all kinds of schools and you can even participate in an online cooking program that might result in a certificate. These all involve lots and lots of cooking.
However, if you opt for a culinary arts degree or even a diploma, these courses will likely be too basic for your needs.
Shop around to see what is in your area. The first five examples below are in various locations in California, Oregon, Seattle, Colorado, and Ohio.
There are, of course, also a wealth of continuing education opportunities. For example, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers training programs in all US states that lead to certificates, ACF certification (see below), and apprenticeship opportunities.
- Thrill of the Grill, Hipcooks
- Classic Essentials, Cook Street
- Latino Sauces, Loretta Paganini School of Cooking
- Chef Eric’s Chicken Connoisseur Class, Culinary Classroom
- Greek Cooking, Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Art
- ACF Culinary Nutrition Certificate Program
Health and safety are vital issues for chefs and those they work with, so it isn’t surprising that there are several food safety certifications that go with the job. These are often a prerequisite for employment.
There are also several other possible certifications that are good to have and will boost the credibility of your resume. These include specialist, culinary arts, and private chef certification, all of which could give you an advantage and competitive edge when applying for a job as a chef.
The ACF certifies chefs and other culinary professionals. There are 16 certification levels which are based on education and work experience. They are “stackable” and recognized throughout the industry as the culinary standard for excellence in knowledge and professional skills. All certifications involve both practical and written exams.
There are also four ACF certifications that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA): Certified Sous Chef, Executive Chef, Executive Pastry Chef, and Certified Culinary Educator.
ACF certification must be renewed every three to five years.
The American Personal & Private Chef Institute (APPCI) has partnered with the ACF to offer home-study courses that lead to certification as a private chef.
Chefs who have had several years of work experience sometimes choose to specialize and become certified in a specific culinary craft. These include several Retail Bakers of America (RBA) certifications: Certified Baker, Certified Master Baker, and Certified Decorator.
Restaurants, hotels, and other food-service establishments commonly require chefs to have food safety and handling certification.
The National Restaurant Association offers ServSafe certification that follows training focusing on basic food safety, food cross-contamination, and cleaning and sanitation. This program is accredited by the non-profit Conference for Food Protection (CFP) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety training and certification. Chefs are often required to have completed food handler training. The HACCP Food Manager ANSI Certification is excellent training for executive chefs. There is also specific training for handling seafood.
- NCCA Certified Sous Chef
- ACF Certified Fundamentals Cook (CFC)
- ACF Certified Culinarian (CC)
- ACF Certified Culinary/Savory Chef (SCS)
- ACF Certified Pastry Chef (CPC)
- ACF Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC)
- RBA Certified Master Baker
- ServSafe Food Handler
- Food Safety Manager Certification (FSMC)
Complete chef resume sample
Now let’s look at a real-life job opportunity for a banquet chef. Generally, a culinary professional who assists the executive and sous chef, the banqueting chef is sometimes called the catering chef.
Banqueting chefs are usually employed in resorts, hotels, country clubs and similar facilities that quite literally cater for banquets and elaborate formal dinners.
The advertisement for a banquet chef (above) is for a hotel in Massachusetts that requires a chef with a culinary arts degree and at least two years’ experience in a similar environment. This indicates that considerably more experience would be appreciated. Certainly, the more experience you can show, the higher your chances of getting the job.
The banquet chef will handle the banquet event order (BEO) at all levels and will be responsible for quality, preparation, production, plating, presentation, and profitability.
In addition to managing culinary teams and maintaining culinary goals, the chef will also need to ensure exceptional customer service. Management roles include training and disciplinary procedures. Since there is a need to train employees in safety procedures, a food safety manager certification would be an advantage.
Qualified banquet chef with varied experience including the BEO process. Thorough knowledge of SOPs and LSOPs in MS. Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills. Good leader and experienced trainer.
Safety protocol | Banquet event management | Food preparation audits | Staff training | Develop menus | Structure costs in line with budgets | Attention to detail | Meticulous cleanliness | Good verbal and written communication | Time management | Service orientated
Wintergreen Hotel & Resort
Banquet Chef, 2018 – 2019
Responsible for the successful management and profitability of hotel banquets. Coordinated all food production operations and maintained a high-quality sanitation and safety program. Evaluated and maintained menus. Staff training.
- Produced and completed numerous special projects for private dining events
- Improved the profitability of the resort’s restaurants
- Introduced a series of new menus that were well received by visitors to the resort
- Successfully completed more than 50 special projects
Palm Beach Golf & Country Club
Fine Dining Chef, 2015 – 2017
Responsible for performing and overseeing a wide range of food preparation and cooking tasks. Executed menus in keeping with standard recipes and prescribed specifications. Accountable for quantity and quality control.
- Consistently produced 5-diamond level food at all times
- Took responsibility for all food quality standards and was able to maintain these
- Completed the company’s enterprise training course with top marks
- Assisted with the daily operations of the wine cellar
Line Cook, 2016
Assisted the executive and sous chefs with all daily tasks. Responsible for preparing sauces, soups, and gravies from scratch. Tested and evaluated culinary products for quality.
- Created several successful new recipes for soups and sauces
- Took charge of the restaurant’s waste management program
- Monitored production of food during rush hours to ensure items were prepared during the designated ticket time
- Given responsibility of several simultaneous line functions including the saute, fry station, and grill
- ServSafe Food Handler
Nicholls State University
Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts, 2012 – 2015
- Specialized in Culinary Operations Concentration
- Took part in extensive kitchen-laboratory work
- Participated in several field internships in local restaurants
- ACF Culinary Nutrition Certificate Program
Becoming a successful chef takes hard work and years of experience.
Chef Mauro Colagreco from the Mirazur Restaurant in Menton, France was recently named the best chef in the world. He studied at a hotel school in Buenos Aires and got his first job in 2001. So, he’s been cooking up a storm for nearly a decade.
He has worked as a demi-chef partie, sous chef, and chef de cuisine. He was awarded his third Michelin star in January 2019.
- There are many different positions that use the word chef in the title. They deal with specific areas of food preparation and have different responsibilities. You need to ensure that your resume targets the specific position you are applying for.
- An executive or head chef is considered to be the boss of the kitchen. It takes years of experience in lesser positions, following formal education and training, to get there. Ironically, while the prestige and financial rewards are great, an executive chef doesn’t get to do much cooking. Rather, the head chef ensures that the kitchen runs smoothly and checks that every dish is perfect. Your resume will need to show you have cooking and management skills to qualify for this position.
- Some of the world’s greatest chefs will tell you that if you want to become a great chef you must work with great chefs. But in the beginning, it’s best to start at the bottom and gradually climb up the ladder of success.
- If you want to have a successful, well-paid career as a chef you need to be qualified. There are lots of options starting with certificates and diplomas as well as associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, to master’s programs that you can tackle at any stage of your career.
Tips from Experts
“Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up.” – Gordon Ramsay OBE, British chef, restaurateur, writer, and television personality
“The difference between being a good cook and being a good chef is as big as the difference between playing online Texas Hold’em in your pajamas and holding a chair in the World Series of Poker.” – Gabrielle Hamilton, American chef, author, and owner of Prune restaurant in New York City
Writing a resume for a job as a chef will require you to carefully define the role and its requirements. For instance, if you’ve been working as a banquet chef and are now applying for a position as a sous chef, you must be sure you are well equipped for the position and can show this on your resume.
Most job advertisements specify what is required in terms of work activities and duties as well as qualifications and experience. Try to structure your resume so that the potential employer can see immediately that you meet their needs.
Better still, show that you outshine your likely competitors. If you have won competitions and awards, say so. If you have received commendations, specify these. You are the only person who can sell your culinary skills.