Important Job Skills for Chefs

Female chef in the kitchen
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Chefs are in high demand all over the world. They oversee food production at places where food is served. They may work in restaurants, private homes and events, and hotels. Chefs are responsible for directing the cooking staff and for making numerous decisions related to everything from food production to administrative issues.

It takes a variety of both hard and soft skills to be a great chef who can effectively command a kitchen. If you are passionate about creating new recipes, are detail-oriented, and want to lead a successful kitchen, then this career could be the perfect fit for you.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to Be a Chef? 

Illustration by Catherine Song. © The Balance, 2018

Attention to Detail

Cooking is a science, so a chef needs to be precise. Every ingredient and measurement must be exact. Chefs need to be precise in other ways as well; whether ordering food products or figuring out what time to cook certain items so that they are all plated at the same time, a chef needs to have an eye for detail.

  • Heat Control
  • Measuring
  • Portion Sizing
  • Precision
  • Presentation
  • Quality of Food
  • Supervising

Business Sense

A good chef is also a good businessman. He or she should always be thinking about how to make delicious food while also being cost-effective.

  • Administrative
  • Budgeting
  • Business Acumen
  • Business Sense
  • Computer Skills
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • Control Labor Costs
  • Cost Control
  • Cost Reduction
  • Customer Service
  • Food Pricing
  • Food Safety
  • Food Regulations
  • Food Science
  • Food Service Management
  • Hiring
  • Inventory Management
  • Inventory Rotation
  • Kitchen Management
  • Local Foods
  • Ordering
  • Operations
  • Product Selection

Cleanliness

Chefs need to know how to keep the kitchen sanitary. This is very important in a restaurant, where unsanitary conditions can affect the quality of the food, and can even force a restaurant to shut down.

  • Health and Safety
  • Hygiene
  • Sanitary Practices

Creativity

Working in the food industry requires creativity. Chefs must be open to incorporating new food items into menus as well as to improving older recipes. Creativity and imagination will keep customers coming back to a restaurant.

  • Collaboration
  • Experimenting
  • Menu Design
  • Presentation
  • Recipe Design
  • Trial and Error

Culinary Expertise

The most important hard skill chefs need is an ability to cook, as well as knowledge of the kitchen. This broad skill includes a variety of smaller skills, including knife skills and tasting skills. Chefs need to be able to cook precisely and efficiently. They also need to be skilled at recognizing flavors and judging the balance of seasonings.

  • Baking
  • Baking Techniques
  • Consistency
  • Cooking
  • Culinary Expertise
  • Food Preparation
  • Grilling
  • Ingredient Selection
  • Knife Control
  • Knife Cuts
  • Knife Skills
  • Pastry
  • Presentation

Fast-Paced Decision Making

A chef should be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently. The kitchen is a fast-paced environment, and a chef has to make numerous decisions at once.

Motivational Management Style

A good chef will motivate those working in the kitchen. He or she should be able to keep everyone working at a fast, efficient pace.

Organization

Chefs must be very organized in the kitchen. Often, they have to work on a variety of tasks at once and must do so while keeping the kitchen organized. They must create order and structure in the kitchen so that the environment is not chaotic.

  • Commitment to Quality
  • Efficient
  • Kitchen Safety
  • Kitchen Tools
  • Multitasking
  • Planning
  • Safe Food Handling
  • Sanitary Practices

Team Player

A chef is part of a team and must be able to work well with others. Not only must he or she work with the cooks in the kitchen, but he or she must also be able to work effectively with staff and management.

  • Accept Feedback
  • Collaboration
  • Compassion
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Give Feedback
  • Interpersonal
  • Sense of Humor
  • Team Building
  • Training

More Chef Skills

  • Banquet Dining
  • Catering
  • First Aid
  • Flexibility
  • Handle Criticism
  • Hotel Kitchen
  • Nutrition
  • Portion Control
  • Seasoning
  • Service
  • Source Ingredients
  • Supervision
  • Well-Tuned Palate
  • Willingness to Learn

Review Resume and Cover Letter Samples

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

ADD YOUR MOST RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Review lists of the top skills employers look for when evaluating job applicants, and the best skills to put on your resume to help you get hired.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Use your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're a strong match for the job by mentioning how your qualifications fit the job requirements.

USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS: Keep these skills in mind at job interviews, and be prepared to give examples of how you've used each one.