How to Move Up the Ladder from Line Cook to Head Chef


As a line cook, it may seem like the road to head chef is a long and ambiguous journey. However, rest assured that you are beginning to walk a path that has been traveled by some of today’s best chefs in the industry. Eighty percent of restaurant owners today had their first job in the restaurant industry holding an entry-level position. So take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and use these four practices to propel you forward from chopping ingredients to running the joint.

Sharpen your Skills

It is expected to slice and dice as a line cook, but in order to excel forward, it is also important that you demonstrate strong basic skills while working towards mastering more advanced cooking techniques. This can be done by seizing every opportunity for education that comes your way. Be receptive to seasoned chef’s advice, take a side job that allows you to learn different cooking techniques or sign up for a class at a local cooking school or culinary program. Keep your mind sharp and adaptable for a diverse set of cooking abilities. Ensure that you are a versatile team member who will always be prepared to deliver what is required in the kitchen.

Put in the Work

The average Sous Chef works between 12 to 14 hours each day. Demonstrate that you are willing to do the same. Staying late to pick up the slack in the kitchen or showing up early to help prep ingredients trains your body and mind to work extensive hours while also demonstrating to employers that you are committed. While you may not advance to head chef at your current place of employment, your current boss will be a reference in the future. Making that impression on him or her now will certainly pay off when the dream job does come along and you need a voice to vouch for your dedication.

Work on the Team

Every kitchen requires a team to pull off a successful operation. While egos can appear , they hinder efficiency and compromise success. Understanding how to work on a team now will allow you to properly manage a team in the future. Help to accomplish the tasks when another co-worker if they are in the weeds, communicate clearly within the kitchen and ask the head chef what else can be done when your duties are complete.

Be Consistent

Show consistency in attitude, standards and cleanliness. Employers notice when you’re only on time 90 percent of the time and that 10 percent can cause you to miss out on a promotion. Slipping on sanitation can hurt your current job and future opportunities. Be positively consistent as often as possible and prove you are capable of handling the additional responsibilities of the job you are working towards.


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  1. First paragraph ceasing should be seizing. The way it reads now, you’re saying to cease (stop) every opportunity. Good article. Thanks.

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