Whether you’re a kitchen assistant, commis chef or just thinking about becoming one, every role in the kitchen is important to ensure every service runs smoothly. If you’re really passionate and want to progress in your career, then you might be thinking of eventually becoming a head chef.
Here are some head chef duties you probably didn’t know to help you decide if the role is for you.
Develop Your Team
Although you’ll control the whole kitchen, it’s likely that you won’t do as much cooking as you did in other roles. That’s because you’ll have a team of talented chefs doing most of the cooking - so you’ll need to make sure you develop the best team.
You’ll need to set clear expectations and objectives so they know what they have to deliver. A head chef will also be responsible for developing training programmes so other chefs can continue to develop their skills and get better in their roles.
It’s also your responsibility to recruit new staff members, monitor performances and attend relevant meetings with management.
Refine the Menu
The success of a restaurant can rely on a menu that delights customers’ taste buds. So you’ll need to think about flavour combinations and ingredient innovations, stay up-to-date with the latest trends and keep the theme of your restaurant in mind when finalising and adding new dishes to your menu.
With the new menu, there’s also the chance you might need to train kitchen team members to cook the latest dishes exactly how you planned.
Focus on Profit Margins
This responsibility probably doesn’t affect you right now, but it’s vital as a head chef. Once you have your new menu and dishes, you need to maintain or raise the profit margins on food. Look at the cost of the ingredients, the time it takes to make meals and how much you’re selling them for.
If it’s making you a lot of profit then that’s great news. However, if it’s making you a loss or a small profit, then you might want to rethink your menu. How much money the restaurant makes could depend on these profit margins so this will be one of your biggest responsibilities.
Order the Finest Ingredients
For your team to create the best dishes possible, you need the very best ingredients and equipment. It’s also down to you to plan orders of anything your team needs so that you never suffer from shortages during services.
This means you’ll need to keep a close eye on inventory. While you don’t want to risk potentially falling short on ingredients, you’ll also not want to waste fresh produce and stock outdated ingredients. When you become a head chef, take the time to carefully plan your orders so you always use the best ingredients while minimising food wastage.
Quality Check Everything
As a head chef, you’ll need to inspect everything in the restaurant. Although you’ve hired and trained the best team full of talented chefs, you still need to approve everything that leaves the kitchen, especially the dishes you haven’t cooked. It’s just to make sure that all the food is high-quality.
This includes controlling and directing the food preparation process as well as approving and adding the finishing touches to dishes before they reach customers. This will make sure everything is perfect and delight your guests.
Enforce Safety Regulations
It’ll be your duty to comply with safety regulations and enforce them for the rest of the brigade. This includes training them on using equipment properly, hygiene, food handling, risk assessments, safety signs, food storage and more.
It’s also a good idea to think about slip-resistant chef footwear so that your team can work during busy services without worrying about the potential risks, such as spillages, slips, trips and falls.
Although you’re in the kitchen, you’ll be even more responsible as the head chef to satisfy customers. That means you’ll need to put a lot of focus on the ingredients used, the taste of the meals, the aesthetics and also the service they receive.
You might not do this right now in your current chef role but as the head chef, you should go out on to the restaurant floor and talk to your customers. This will give you lots of opportunities to ask for feedback on menu items and get their thoughts.
If necessary, this feedback will allow you to refine your menu even more to meet the needs and desires of your customers.
One head chef duty that you might not be aware of is the admin side. This includes things like payroll records, monitoring attendance, ensuring you have enough cover when staff members take some days off and more.
You’ll also need to keep an eye on your team's workload, especially during unexpectedly busy services so you can fairly distribute tasks.
But a head chef is just one kitchen role you might think to pursue. There are lots of other kitchen roles and responsibilities available so if you need some extra information, our ultimate chef guide has you covered.
Begin Your Journey to Becoming a Head Chef
If you’re looking to start your career as a commis chef or wondering what skills and experience you need to eventually become a head chef, download our complete guide.
You’ll find information on salary expectations, job descriptions, advice on how to get a job and much more. Download your copy below.