A Day in the Life of a Head Chef

Being a chef is one of those careers which has people thinking you have it easy, like they could just dedicate a week or so to learning how to refine their cooking skills and that would be enough to operate as a chef. It’s nowhere near that easy and in fact there’s a reason why it takes years and years of experience for one to even be in with a chance to qualify as a head chef. The life of a head chef is a lot more taxing and challenging than you may probably think.

Pre-preparation that Never Ends

The preparation required of a figure operating as a head chef is never complete, presenting one with a serious challenge each time they have to prepare for the upcoming day in the kitchen because it is indeed possible to dwell too much on specific aspects of your prep. That’s not even something you can afford to do because time is money in this business, but the preparation never ends if you’re a chef, let alone a head chef. There is always something to do.


The professional environment a head chef would find themselves in typically has them having to manage a lot of different personalities in order to get the job of preparing food done and done well. It’s micro-management on a whole other level and has nothing really to do with the level of skill everybody around you has. It’s not about how good or bad the junior chefs and cooks are, but rather about having to constantly work at synchronizing everything as the day draws on and all manner of things change dynamically.

Should someone not come into work, the responsibility to shuffle things around and find an extra pair of hands to fill the void from somewhere falls squarely on you. If you’re working for a restaurant for example, the guests waiting on their ordered meals know absolutely nothing about any of the behind-the-scenes challenges you constantly have to deal with.

Professional-Grade Consistency

Now, this is perhaps the most challenging part of being a head chef and there’s not a single day that goes by in the life of a head chef when this test doesn’t come up. You’re required to maintain professional-grade consistency with the dishes you prepare, which means if a guest visits the restaurant today, tomorrow, and a week from now, if they order a specific dish it must taste the same each time. It also needs to taste the same as other chefs that cover for you, which can be harder than making it taste the same as your own day-to-day creations. Fortunately, for some dishes, like pizzas, this kind of consistency might not be such a problem, if there are baked in commercial woodfired pizza ovens or other such equipment. On the other hand, something like pasta might need more of a hands-on approach in order to maintain the desired standard for the dish.

It’s very delicate work getting something to taste “professional” – to taste better than it would have tasted if someone tried to make it at home. Of course, a head chef has the benefit of FFD Catering Equipment or similar industrial catering equipment to hand, so there is always a piece of equipment designed to do the job. Whilst a little variation is acceptable, a head chef has to ensure food intolerances are accounted for, so if a dish is intended to be dairy-free, a splash of milk in a dish it’s not meant to be in could land the restaurant in trouble.

Creativity On-Tap

As a result, creativity has to be on-tap. You simply cannot taste every single dish that’s prepared in your kitchen to make sure it’s consistent with every other dish of its kind, so there’s a lot of tweaking and playing around with elements such as the ingredients, cooking time, seasoning, etc to get it just right. I mean sometimes something like the tomatoes you have to work with came out a little differently to the ones you previously had and so you have to compensate for the difference in the taste of the final dish in a number of very creative ways, for example.