Executive chefs are responsible for all aspects of a kitchen's functioning. On a typical day, they may design a menu, set prices for the new items, and purchase foodstuffs. In many restaurants, the executive chef interviews, hires and supervises kitchen staff. Salaries for executive chefs depend on the caliber of the restaurant for which they work. Health insurance, an added salary benefit, may or may not be offered, depending on the restaurant.
National Average Salary:
StarChefs, a magazine for culinary insiders, conducts a yearly annual salary survey including chefs, cooks and other food and beverage professionals. The 2011 results, which include a sample of 1,734, reported that the average yearly salary for executive chefs was $83,086 or $39.95 per hour. Half of the executive chefs made more than $74,500, and half made under this figure. The average bonus for industry professionals was $2,934 for 2012, which adds to this base figure.
Salaries for executive chefs have increased every alternate year since 2007. In 2007, executive chefs earned an average salary of $77,611 annually, or $37.31 per hour. In 2008, their salary declined by an average of 4 percent, to $74,869. In 2009, their salaries again improved, by 6 percent, to an average of $79,402. Salaries went down again, by 6 percent, through 2010, with the average reported as $74,891 that year. Salaries increased in 2011, an average of 10 percent to $83,086, according to StarChefs.
Demand for executive chefs increased due to the U.S. economy's slow but measurable improvement since 2010, according to StarChefs. Through June 2012, restaurants added 116,000 new jobs. Growth depends on the venue. For example, although demand for executive chefs increased overall, demand went down by 14 percent between 2010 and 2011 for executive chefs working in hotels and decreased 7.8 percent for those working in restaurants.
As of 2011, San Francisco, New York City, Boston, Portland and Seattle employ the greatest numbers of executive chefs, as they are the most restaurant-intensive markets, according to StarChefs, however, salaries tend to be highest in smaller and medium-sized markets. Top-paying cities included Las Vegas, Miami and Washington, D.C. New Orleans was the lowest-paying city. The trend is for restaurants on the East and West coast to pay more than the South and Central areas.