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Pūkenga Tao Kai
This job is sometimes referred to as:
- Chef de Partie
- Head Chef
- Sous Chef
- Commis Chef
Chefs prepare and cook food in hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars.
Contact usCall us on 0800 222 733
Pay for chefs depends on the size, type and location of the establishment they work in, and the position they hold.
According to a 2012 Restaurant Association of New Zealand survey, average hourly pay rates for chefs are:
- Commis chef – $15.92
- Chef de partie – $17.50
- Sous chef – $18.63
- Head chef – $20.66
- Executive chef – $27.36.
What you will do
Chefs may do some or all of the following:
- prepare and cook food according to customers' orders
- arrange food on plates
- design, plan and price menus
- train and supervise staff
- keep work areas clean and tidy
- buy food supplies and cooking equipment
- supervise cleaning and dishwashing
- keep records of supplies.
Skills and knowledge
Chefs need to have:
- food preparation, cooking and food presentation skills
- knowledge of budgeting, stock management and how to price and set up a menu
- understanding of hygiene and health and safety regulations
- knowledge of new developments in food nutrition, food technology and cooking methods.
- usually work long hours including evening and weekends, and they may be on call
- sometimes travel to food festivals and events, or to attend cooking competitions
- work in kitchens in conditions that can be hot, noisy and stressful, because food must be prepared quickly and to high standards.
What's the job really like?
Nathaniel Blomfield talks about his job as a chef at Shells Restaurant in Tairua (Coromandel) - 2.18 mins.
What got me into it was where I started kitchen handing so I could live by the beach pretty much. I just applied – well, wrote letters to restaurants around the Coromandel, just saying that I wanted to be a chef one day, and that I’d like to get into industry so I am willing to start as a kitchen hand and work my way up. And Shells Restaurant where I’m working now is the only place that replied to my letter, so I moved straight over and started surfing and cooking.
If you want to be a chef, my biggest suggestion would be to start from the bottom and be willing to work towards it – not go into it thinking you’re going to start off straight at the top 'cause you’re not. There's a lot of chefs that go through polytechs these days who haven't had the prior experience like I did, where I worked for three years before I got trained. Go out and get some experience before you do your training and find out whether it’s what you want to do.
Chefing can be a lifestyle; I work hard for part of the year over the busy season, and the rest of the year I get to enjoy myself and do my pastimes. And chefing allows me to do that 'cause I get free days and I start in the winter probably three o'clock in the afternoon. You get plenty of time to go out surfing or diving or fishing – or whatever you want to do.
The best bit about being a chef is being creative. Like the day-to-day stuff can get a bit tedious, but [the best bit is] coming up with those specials, and doing special dishes for certain functions, or even just having the skills to be able to create something awesome for your friends at home.
Updated 7 Mar 2013