Do you need help writing a CV or resume for roles as a chef? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re seeking your first job as a cook or you’re pursuing head chef positions, this guide will tell you everything you need to know to prepare an effective CV or resume that generates job interviews.
With such strong competition for chef positions, it’s vital that you are equipped with a professional CV or resume that effectively articulates your expertise. According to the United States Department of Labor, there were 139,000 chef and cook jobs in the United States alone as of 2018. This is projected to increase by 15,400 by 2028.
Nevertheless, restaurants and organisations who employ chefs are always on the lookout for the best talent. If your CV or resume isn’t making a powerful impact on hiring managers, you’re going to struggle to secure the roles you want.
This CV and resume writing guide is designed to help chefs in all roles. This includes head chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs, banquet chefs, commis chefs, chef de cuisines, executive chefs, kitchen chefs, chef de parties, saute chefs, second chefs and group chefs. This guide also includes a chef resume example to help you format your own resume.
In this guide, we’ll cover all aspects of the CV writing process. This extends to:
- What to include in your resume for roles as a chef
- The key skills for chef CVs and which ones you need to draw attention to in your CV or resume
- How to format your CV or resume for roles as a cook or chef
- The most effective CV or resume design/layout for chefs and cooks to use
- How to convince hiring managers that you’re the best chef for the job
- Guidance on writing a heavy-hitting summary/personal statement for chefs
- A chef resume sample
Chef CV Example
This guide to writing a good chef resume or cook resume consists of 5 steps. Let’s start with step 1.
All good resumes contain a powerful introduction. These introductions are usually called personal statements, summaries or professional profiles. To avoid confusion, we will refer to them as personal statements.
The aim of a personal statement or summary in your CV or resume is to convince hiring managers that you’re the best chef for the job. It’s your chance to stand out from the competition.
The best way to think of your personal statement is as a pitch to the key decision-makers of the companies you want to work for. If you were given 30 seconds to articulate why you’re the best chef to work in your dream restaurant, what points would you convey?
Your answer to this question is what you should be articulating in your personal statement.
Identify your key selling points and bring them across in your personal statement. Key selling points for chefs and cooks might include years of experience, experience working in prestigious restaurants and culinary expertise.
Keep your personal statement under 100 words in length. Anything over 100 words will be too wordy and the hiring manager or recruiter may not even read it. Be concise. Use short, crisp sentences.
Your personal statement should also mention the cuisine you specialise in. If you’re writing a CV for jobs as a pizza chef, make sure to highlight your Italian cooking expertise. If you’re a pastry chef, write about the types of pastry you have specialised in.
The best personal statements are tailored to individual positions.
To make your personal statement for impactful, tailor it to the position you are applying for. This will ensure it has the best chance of impressing. It will also ensure the hiring manager doesn’t suspect that you’re applying for jobs as a chef en masse.
How do you tailor your personal statement to individual positions?
To tailor your personal statement to the role you are applying for, study the job description and person specification. Find out what the company is looking for in candidates and ensure this comes across in your CV or resume.
Every time you apply for a new job, write a new personal statement in line with the requirements outlined in the job description and person specification.
Additionally, research the restaurants and companies that you are applying to. Learn about their cultures and values. This will help you to write a strong personal statement that is optimised for applications to each company you apply to.
What does a chef’s personal statement look like? Here is an example of a sous chef’s personal statement:
Creative, enthusiastic Sous Chef, with over 12 years’ experience managing kitchen operations within five-star hotels while liaising with Senior Management to develop strategies. Benefits from a breadth of international exposure, having acquired academic and professional experience in Italy, Spain and the UK.
Passionate about the culinary arts and the creation of novel recipes, such as a new Italian chicken recipe, which became the most popular menu item and generated a 4% increase in revenue. Instrumental in driving improvements in productivity by overhauling processes and implementing positive kitchen cultures.
Why is this sous chef’s personal statement effective?
This personal statement works very well because it makes the sous chef stand out from the crowd. This is achieved by drawing attention to her accomplishments and experiences.
For example, the first sentence states that she is experienced at managing kitchen operations within five-star hotels. This shows that she has significant expertise in high-end establishments. This is the sous chef’s biggest selling point and it is highlighted in the first sentence.
In this example, the sous chef also touches on her innovative approach to cooking. By focusing on her record of creating her own recipes, which have been highly popular with guests, she shows that she is able to improve customer satisfaction and revenue.
Of course, you don’t have to possess these experiences and skills to be a good chef. This is just an example that shows what this sous chef used in her resume to demonstrate her proficiency. When writing your own personal statement, identify what makes you a great chef. Then bring this across and sell yourself to the reader.
Should you include an objective alongside your personal statement?
We don’t recommend including an objective in your CV or resume. Objectives are redundant on CVs and resumes because it is usually obvious what your objective is. For example, if you’ve written a CV that is tailored to chef positions and the content demonstrates your expertise as a chef, it is completely obvious what your objective is.
After reading the example personal statement above, does the chef need an objective? Or is it obvious what the sous chef’s objective is?
Of course, there may be times when you may want to convey your objectives within your role as a chef. For example, you may want to state that you’re pursuing a move away from savoury cooking and secure roles as a pastry chef.
However, we don’t recommend discussing these issues in your CV or resume. Use your cover letter to explain your desire for a change. Your CV can highlight your transferable skills and experiences that make you an ideal candidate for career changes, but don’t make any explanations.
To see how a personal statement should be presented on your resume, take a look at our chef resume examples in this guide.
Articulate your culinary skills and areas of expertise
The next step is to include a key skills section. This is the section where you have the chance to highlight a number of your culinary skills and the cuisines you specialise in.
The key skills section works best when it is concise. Don’t feel the need to include an exhaustive list of your skills. Focus on your key areas of expertise. This what hiring managers and recruiters are looking for.
Here is how the key skills section was presented in our sous chef resume example:
Notice how only nine skills/areas of expertise have been mentioned in this example key skills section. By including only a small number of skills, the chef has ensured the reader’s focus is entirely on those skills.
If the chef had included a long list of skills, it would take hiring managers longer to skim through the,, resulting in the key information being difficult to locate.
The key skills and areas of expertise section should also show the reader which cuisines you specialise in. If you have wide-ranging experience as a chef, don’t hesitate to touch on several of your culinary specialisms.
If you have mastered any cooking techniques that play a key role in effectively performing your job, list these in your key skills section.
As previously mentioned, don’t include a comprehensive list of every cooking technique you are familiar with. Additionally, don’t include cooking techniques that are fully expected of chefs. These would be redundant and may make you appear as an unprofessional candidate.
For example, do hiring managers need to know about your filleting techniques? No. As a chef, it is expected that you should understand how to fillet a fish. But if you’re an expert in escagraph – writing on food – then you could showcase this in your skills section, as it isn’t a standard aspect of chefs’ skill sets.
Which skills don’t you need to include in your CV or resume?
Depending on your career level, the skills you include will vary significantly. If you’re an executive chef, you should highlight your managerial and leadership qualities. If you’re a commis chef, you should highlight skills you have acquired during your training.
Chefs at senior level don’t need to include skills they obtained at junior level. As a senior chef, it’s completely obvious that you’ve mastered the basics of cooking. So focus on skills that are essential for you to perform your role as a senior chef.
Don’t forget to focus on the business side of cooking
If you’re a senior chef – operating in roles such as executive chef, head chef or sous chef – don’t neglect skilled related to the business side of cooking.
While great chefs possess excellent culinary skills, they’re also adept at managing the business aspects of the role. The ultimate goal of restaurants and hotels is to make a profit. Chefs play a big role in achieving this.
As such, good chefs have business skills. These include P&L management, budget management, forecasting, cost control, supplier management, inventory management and product selection.
Should you describe your skills in your skills section?
Some people prefer to describe their skills in their CV or resume. Those who choose to do this usually provide two or three sentences per skill.
The advantages to this are that you can go into more detail and provide examples of times you have utilised the skills.
However, we don’t usually recommend describing your skills in this section of your CV. This is because you will have the opportunity to provide examples of times you have utilised your skills in the career summary section of your CV. In the career summary, you will be able to tie your skills, achievements and duties together.
The key skills section is simply in place to show hiring managers and recruiters what you can do. This provides them with the key information they need to know. Later in your CV, you can actually demonstrate these skills.
What are the most important skills for chefs?
Kitchen management, leadership, team leading, business acumen, budget management, health & safety, menu design, cooking techniques, regulatory compliance.
Soft skills for chefs
A number of soft skills are as important as hard skills for chefs. Some culinary professionals would argue that the key soft skills that great chefs possess are more important than their hard skills.
When it comes to conveying your soft skills in your CV or resume, we recommend drawing attention to them in the career summary, rather than a dedicated skills section. As the skills in your key skills section aren’t backed up with examples, soft skills hold less weight here.
The reason for this is that many candidates include the same soft skills on their CV or resume. As such, the soft skills become generic. Without backing them up or showing that you possess the skills, they don’t make much of an impact.
For example, hiring managers and recruiters will see the skill ‘organisation’ on hundreds of CVs and resumes every week. But they won’t see many CVs and resumes that actually show times the candidate has utilised their organisation skills.
This is why it is always more beneficial to show, rather than tell. Unless you're backing up your soft skills with tangible evidence and examples, they won’t add much value to your CV or resume.
So use your career summary - or what some people refer to as a work experience section - to convey your soft skills.
What are the most important soft skills should chefs and cooks show on their CV or resume?
The best soft skills for chefs depend largely on the chef's level of seniority. Senior chefs require excellent decision-making skills. Junior chefs need great active listening skills.
Here, we detail what we believe are the most important soft skills for chefs. We also explain how to demonstrate these skills in your CV or resume.
For chefs in senior roles – including head chefs, executive chefs, group chefs and sous chefs – leadership is one of the most important skills. Without great leadership, kitchens won’t operate efficiently. Deadlines will be missed, customers will be unhappy and profits will slump.
Kitchens without strong leadership are like a restaurant’s daily special without the key ingredient.
As such, chef CVs and resumes for those at senior level should articulate the candidate’s leadership qualities.
Note that leadership is not one of the most important skills for junior chefs, such as commis chefs and trainee chefs. Of course, if you’re a junior chef with great leadership qualities, it certainly won’t harm your CV or resume if you showcase these skills.
How do you demonstrate your leadership skills on your CV or resume?
The most effective way to show that you’re an effective leader in the kitchen is to show results you have delivered. The best leaders are the ones who deliver, so if you can show that you’ve added value as a chef, your leadership skills will shine in your CV or resume.
Here is an example:
Reduced waiting times for dinner meals from 18 minutes to 14 minutes by establishing clearly defined tasks for chefs and asking kitchen porters to conduct food preparation.
In the example above, the chef shows that she was able to improve performance by organising staff members and altering processes. By showing this achievement, her leadership skills are clearly evident.
Follow the same format in your CV or resume to highlight your leadership qualities. Show your results and your leadership qualities will make a strong impact on hiring managers.
2. An ability to excel under pressure
Most chefs operate in very fast-paced kitchens, where food must be prepared in a timely manner. They need to juggle a multitude of tasks and complete them all within time parameters.
Skills that tie in with excelling under pressure include physical and mental stamina. Managing hundreds of tasks at the same time can be exhausting. Chefs need the physical and mental stamina to cope with heavy workloads during service without throwing their hat on the floor and walking out of the kitchen.
The best chefs are the ones who thrive in these environments.
If you can show that you’re able to excel under pressure in your CV or resume, you’ll impress hiring managers.
But how can you show your ability to excel under pressure on your CV or resume?
One of the most effective ways of showing this is to highlight successes that you achieved while working under pressure. This might include meeting tight deadlines or preparing large numbers of meals for customers, while operating in highly pressurised kitchens.
If you can use numbers while describing these achievements, you will stand out even more as an individual who works well under pressure.
Here is an example:
Managed the successful preparation of 100 meals for VIP customers within a three-hour timeframe, following a short notice booking.
In this example, the chef describes the number of meals that she prepared in line with timescales, while working under pressure. This adds more weight to the achievement. It also enables the hiring manager or recruiter to envision the chef thriving in fast-paced kitchens.
3. Enthusiasm and Passion
Great chefs love cooking. They are passionate about the culinary arts and they show it through their cooking. Their love for their profession comes through in their dishes.
Chefs who aren’t enthusiastic and passionate about cooking may struggle to cope. The hard work and long hours that comes with being a chef will weigh heavy on those who don’t have a genuine enthusiasm for cooking.
If you’re a chef, or you're pursuing entry roles as a chef, you probably love cooking too. It’s important that this comes across on your CV or resume.
But how can you show your passion and enthusiasm on your CV or resume?
Your personal statement or summary is a great place to write about your passion and enthusiasm. Take a look at the personal statement example in this guide. The chef touches on her passion for the culinary arts, as well as her keen interest in creating her own recipes.
This really articulates her enthusiasm for cooking.
Another way of showcasing your passion for cooking is to write about your interests and hobbies, which will most likely involve cooking, baking or similar activities. On most occasions, interests and hobbies are redundant on CVs and resumes, but they can be a great way of showing your enthusiasm for cooking.
Additionally, achievements can be an effective way to showcase your passion and enthusiasm. By describing times that you have gone the extra mile to accomplish objectives, hiring managers will be convinced that you’re a passionate chef.
Here is an example:
Contributed to the successful preparation of 150 dinners for a function, which was booked on the night before service, by working a 16-hour shift.
In the chef’s achievement above, she proves that she is willing to dedicate her own personal time to her profession. This proves that she is clearly passionate about her job.
4. Time Management
As chefs usually juggle multiple tasks, they need to be able to manage their time effectively. Without good time management, chefs will struggle to complete their work within timeframes and quality will slump.
It is especially important for junior chefs to showcase their time management skills in their CV or resume. Senior chefs have more experience and hiring managers may expect them to be able to manage their time effectively. But chefs with less experience need to convince hiring managers of their ability to manage their time effectively.
For junior chefs, many recruiters believe that time management is the most important skill. This is because time is usually at a minimum in kitchens. Those who can manage their time well have a stronger chance of achieving objectives and meeting deadlines.
So how do show time management skills on your CV or resume?
Good time management consists of organisation, prioritisation, planning and decision-making. As such, the best way to articulate your time management skills on your CV or resume is to show achievements that have resulted from your use of these skills.
If you’ve worked in fast-paced kitchens, you have probably used your time management skills to achieve success on many occasions. Identify these occasions and write about them in your CV or resume.
This is how this chef demonstrated her time management skills on her resume:
Led the preparation of room service orders for an average of 100 guests per night, alongside preparation of service for guests in the Function room. Consistently delivered service in a timely manner by delegating tasks to chefs in line with workloads and organising kitchen activities.
In this example achievement, the chef shows that she prioritised tasks, organised complex workloads and made beneficial decisions to achieve objectives. This is a clear demonstration of her time management skills.
To showcase your own time management skills, write about your accomplishments that have come about as a result of your organisation, prioritisation, planning and decision-making skills.
5. An ability to take criticism
This skill is especially important for new chefs and junior chefs, including commis chefs, demi chefs and apprentice chefs.
People are going to criticise your cooking. Some criticism will be constructive. Some criticism may be more uncouth. Either way, it’s important that chefs learn from criticism and don’t take it personally.
If you’re considering becoming a trainee chef, or you’re already a trainee chef, you’ll need to develop thick skin. It’s also vital to approach criticism in the right way. Instead of responding to your senior’s criticism in a negative manner, try to learn from it.
This will make you a better chef.
How do you show your ability to take criticism on your CV or resume?
One of the best ways to show that you can handle criticism is to highlight successes that resulted from your response to criticism. These don’t necessarily need to be major successes. By simply stating that you took criticism on board and made improvements, your ability to take criticism will come through on your CV or resume.
Here is an example:
Responded to the chef de cuisine’s feedback to improve the quality of dishes, resulting in high numbers of positive comments from customers.
Include your professional experience
Now it's time to add your work experience to your CV or resume. Start with your most recent employment and work backwards. Include your job title, the company name, the location and the dates of employment.
For each job you add to this section, it's usually beneficial to initially provide some context. Tell the reader about the restaurant or hotel you worked in. How many dishes did you prepare per day? How many customers did the restaurant service per day? By providing some context, you enable the hiring manager to understand the type of environment you operated in.
Then write about your duties as a chef. Don’t include an exhaustive list of your responsibilities. This is not necessary and will have a negative impact on your CV as the key information will be difficult to locate.
Identify your achievements
Achievements are one of the most important aspects of your CV or resume. They enable you to stand out from the crowd by showing hiring managers how you can add value. Sometimes achievements alone can be enough to get recruiters and hiring managers to arrange a job interview with you.
Many chefs struggle to identify their achievements. But think about your jobs as a chef and try to identify activities that you could showcase on your CV as achievements.
For example, have you created menus? Have you developed your own recipes? Have you altered recipes to improve customer satisfaction? These are all achievements that impress hiring managers in the hospitality industry.
When writing your CV or resume, it’s worth spending some time to evaluate your career as a chef and identify your key achievements.
Supercharge your CV or resume with numbers and statistics
Using numbers and statistics while writing about your achievements and duties is a great way of grabbing the attention of hiring managers. They offer tangible evidence of your successes.
Here is an example:
Reduced negative feedback by 18% within 2 years of assuming the role by decreasing waiting times and introducing customer service workshops for waitresses.
In this example, notice how the numbers make the achievement feel much more realistic. They back up the statement and enable the reader to see precisely how the chef has improved operations during her employment.
Here is an example of how using numbers while describing duties can improve your CV or resume:
Managed the preparation of breakfast for 200 guests per day while leading a team of 24 kitchen staff.
In this example, the chef describes the number of guests she cooked for and the number of team members she managed. These numbers provide insight into the chef’s leadership experience in fast-paced kitchens.
Try to identify numbers and statistics that you can use in your own CV or resume to make a powerful impact on recruiters or hiring managers.
Include your education and training
After you’ve included your personal statement, key skills and professional experience, it’s time to add your qualifications.
If you have little to no experience as a chef and have completed relevant training or education, it would be wise to include this section at the start of your CV or resume. This is because education and training should be the focal point of the CVs and resumes for those with little experience.
However, if you have experience as a chef, position your education and training section below your professional experience section.
To see how this section should be presented, take a look at our chef CV example in this guide.
Don’t include irrelevant training and education
Include your highest form of education first. If you’ve obtained a degree, you can feel free to leave your high school qualifications off your CV or resume. Of course, if you achieved high-class grades, ensure to include them.
Only include training that is relevant to your job as a chef. For example, if you’ve completed food hygiene training, add this to your CV or resume. But if you’ve undertaken graphic design training, don’t include it.
How should you format your education and training section?
Start by adding the qualification, followed by the grade. Then insert the dates, the university or school name and the location.
The final step is to include any additional information. These might include languages, IT skills, voluntary activities, memberships and licences.
If you don’t feel that you have any additional information to add to your CV or resume, skip this step.
Further CV and resume writing tips for chefs and cooks
CV and resume design for chefs
We highly recommend using the design presented in the chef CV example in this guide. This CV template is optimised for chefs and cooks. It’s also had great success in the job market with chefs at all levels, from head chef to chef de partie.
How long should chef's CVs and resumes be?
CVs and resumes for chefs should usually be two pages long. Chefs with less experience may opt for a one-page CV. Those at more senior level may feel the need to extend their CV or resume to three pages. But we don’t recommend exceeding three pages in length.
In our experience, recruiters and hiring managers prefer CVs that are concise and to-the-point. Lengthy CVs take too long to make an impact, so try to trim your document down for optimal reading experience.
What are the best fonts to use on CVs and resumes for chefs?
The best fonts to use on your CV or resume are ones that are easy to read. These classic fonts – such as Arial, Times New Roman and Calibri – have become standard on professional documents. Using more creative fonts may come across as juvenile.
Of course, you may want to use different fonts for the section headings in your CV or resume. This would make your sections stand out and ensure the headings and body text are clearly separated.
Other fonts that you may want to consider using in your CV or resume are Helvetica, Georgia or Cambria.
The ideal font size ranges from 9.5 to 12. The best font size for your CV or resume will depend on the font you are using, as some fonts are larger than others. For example, if you’re using the Arial font, you can reduce the font size to as low as 9.5. But if you’re using Calibri, you should keep the font size at 10.5 or above.
Optimise your CV or resume for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Many companies and HR departments use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter and rank applicant’s CV and resumes based on specific keywords. To ensure your CV or resume passes through ATS and ranks highly, it’s important to include the necessary keywords.
What are the most important keywords for chef’s CVs and resumes?
Some of the important keywords to include are those related to the type of cuisine you specialise in. For example, if you’re a chef who cooks Italian food, relevant keywords would include Italian cuisine, pasta dishes, Italian menu design and so on.
Other keywords for chef and cook CVs and resumes include:
Cooking techniques, baking techniques, health & safety, regulatory compliance, hygiene practices, kitchen safety, heat control, food quality, recipe creation, menu design.
For senior chefs – including executive chefs, chef de cuisines, head chefs and sous chefs – include keywords related to leadership and management. These include team leading, leadership, budgeting, cost control, financial processes, kitchen management, staff training and regulatory compliance.
To help you write the perfect chef CV or resume, we've prepared a 14-step infographic. Follow the steps in this infographic to improve your CV or resume.
Hopefully you have found this guide beneficial while preparing your professional CV or resume. If you need further help, please get in touch with our professional CV and resume writers.