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Note: This page is about back-of-the-house management. If you are really more interested in opening and/or operating a restaurant, you should also check out our page, Restaurant Management.

Culinary management is an ideal career path for a sold-out self-directed learner. Licensure isn't really a requirement, and it blends two seemingly diverse passions:  business and the dining experience. So much the better if you know your way around the kitchen and have a boatload of respect for the people who do the cookin' and tend the bar.

Or maybe your situation is completely the other way around: You are a qualified chef hoping to get together the knowledge to upgrade to executive chef. You just need to get some insight and build a few management skills. Get  into the habit of self-directed learning, and there's no telling how far you can go--maybe even your own place one day.


Here is an extensive set of notes by the National Restaurant Association® and Pearson Higher Education:


Note: Some of these tutorials might require a PDF reader. If you do not have an the Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your device, you can download a free copy here. Many also require the Google Play app for mobile devices.


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The Kitchen Chain of Command

Chefs and head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food-related concerns.

Chefs and head cooks typically do the following:

  • Check the freshness of food and ingredients
  • Supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Develop recipes and determine how to present dishes
  • Plan menus and ensure the quality of meals
  • Inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas for cleanliness and functionality
  • Hire, train, and supervise cooks and other food preparation workers
  • Order and maintain an inventory of food and supplies
  • Monitor sanitation practices and follow kitchen safety standards

Chefs and head cooks use a variety of kitchen and cooking equipment, including step-in coolers, high-quality knives, meat slicers, and grinders. They also have access to large quantities of meats, spices, and produce. Some chefs use scheduling and purchasing software to help them in their administrative tasks.

Chefs who run their own restaurant or catering business are often busy with kitchen and office work. Some chefs use social media to promote their business by advertising new menu items or addressing customer reviews.

The following are examples of types of chefs and head cooks:

Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine are responsible primarily for overseeing the operation of a kitchen. They coordinate the work of sous chefs and other cooks, who prepare most of the meals. Executive chefs also have many duties beyond the kitchen. They design the menu, review food and beverage purchases, and often train cooks and other food preparation workers. Some executive chefs primarily handle administrative tasks and may spend less time in the kitchen.

Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They supervise the restaurant’s cooks, prepare meals, and report results to the head chefs. In the absence of the head chef, sous chefs run the kitchen.

Private household chefs typically work full time for one client, such as a corporate executive, university president, or diplomat, who regularly entertains as part of his or her official duties.

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David L. Heiserman, Editor

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All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015