Important Job Skills for Chefs

Female chef in the kitchen
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Chefs are in high demand all over the world. They oversee food production at places where food is served. They may work in restaurants, private homes, events, and hotels. Chefs are responsible for directing the cooking staff and for making numerous decisions related to everything from food production to administrative issues.

It takes a variety of both hard and soft skills to be a great chef who can effectively command a kitchen.

If you're passionate about creating new recipes, are detail-oriented, and want to lead a successful kitchen, then becoming a chef could be the perfect fit for you.

Here's an overview of the skills you need to become a chef, in-demand skills that employers look for, resume and cover letter samples for cooks, and how to make your skills stand out when you're seeking employment.

What Kind of Skills Do You Need to Be a Chef? 

Successful chefs need business and communication skills, as well as the ability to develop recipes, plan menus, and ensure the meals they serve are of the best quality.

These skills include the following:

  • Budgeting for expenses and managing employees.
  • Communicating instructions clearly and effectively to staff.
  • Motivating kitchen staff and developing constructive and cooperative working relationships.
  • Developing and preparing creative, interesting, and innovative recipes.
  • Having a keen sense of taste and smell to create meals that customers will enjoy.
  • Agility to handle knives and other cooking implements properly for cutting, chopping, and dicing.
  • The ability to work long shifts overseeing the preparation and serving of meals.
  • Time management skills to ensure efficiency in meal preparation and service.

Top Chef Skills

Skills chefs needs

Catherine Song / The Balance

Attention to Detail

Cooking is a science. Every ingredient and measurement must be exact, including ordering food products or figuring out how long to cook certain items so that they're all plated at the same time. A chef needs to have an eye for details such as:

  • Heat Control
  • Measuring
  • Portion Sizing
  • Precision
  • Presentation
  • Quality of Food
  • Supervising

Business Sense

A good chef should also be good at running a business. He or she should always be thinking about how to make delicious food while also being cost-effective. Chefs often deal with the following tasks:

  • Administrative
  • Budgeting
  • Business Acumen
  • Business Sense
  • Computer Skills
  • Conceptual Thinking
  • Control Labor Costs
  • Cost Control
  • Cost Reduction
  • Customer Service
  • Food Pricing
  • Food Safety
  • Food Regulations
  • Food Science
  • Food Service Management
  • Hiring
  • Inventory Management
  • Inventory Rotation
  • Kitchen Management
  • Local Foods
  • Ordering
  • Operations
  • Product Selection


Chefs need to know how to keep their kitchens sanitary. This is very important in a restaurant, where unsanitary conditions can affect the quality of the food, and can even force a restaurant to shut down. Chefs are responsible for following the local health code and dealing with:

  • Health and Safety
  • Hygiene
  • Sanitary Practices


Working in the food industry requires creativity. Chefs must be open to incorporating new food items into menus as well as improving older recipes. Creativity and imagination will keep customers coming back for more. Chefs experiment in the following ways:

  • Collaboration
  • Experimenting
  • Menu Design
  • Presentation
  • Recipe Design
  • Trial and Error

Culinary Expertise

The most important hard skill chefs need is an ability to cook, as well as knowledge of the kitchen. This broad skill includes a variety of smaller skills, including knife and tasting skills. Chefs need to be able to cook precisely and efficiently. They also need to be skilled at recognizing flavors and judging the balance of seasonings. Chefs often have experience with:

  • Baking
  • Baking Techniques
  • Consistency
  • Cooking
  • Culinary Expertise
  • Food Preparation
  • Grilling
  • Ingredient Selection
  • Knife Control
  • Knife Cuts
  • Knife Skills
  • Pastry
  • Presentation

Fast-Paced Decision Making

A chef should be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently. The kitchen is a fast-paced environment, and a chef has to make numerous decisions at once. They should be able to:

  • Handle Pressure
  • Problem Solving
  • Take Initiative

Motivational Management Style

A good chef will motivate those working in the kitchen. He or she should be able to keep everyone working at a fast, efficient pace by demonstrating the following traits:

  • Communication
  • Cooking Techniques
  • Leadership
  • Passion


Chefs must be very organized in the kitchen. Often, they have to work on a variety of tasks at once and must do so while keeping the kitchen clean and safe. They must create order and structure in the kitchen. They do this in the following ways:

  • Commitment to Quality
  • Being Efficient
  • Kitchen Safety
  • Kitchen Tools
  • Multitasking
  • Planning
  • Safe Food Handling
  • Sanitary Practices

Team Player

A chef is part of a team and must be able to work well with others. Not only must he or she work with the other cooks in the kitchen, but he or she must also be able to work effectively with staff and management. Chefs should be able to:

  • Accept Feedback
  • Collaborate
  • Show Compassion
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Give Feedback
  • Be Interpersonal
  • Have a Sense of Humor
  • Team Building
  • Training

More Chef Skills

  • Banquet Dining
  • Catering
  • First Aid
  • Flexibility
  • Handle Criticism
  • Hotel Kitchen
  • Nutrition
  • Portion Control
  • Seasoning
  • Service
  • Source Ingredients
  • Supervision
  • Well-Tuned Palate
  • Willingness to Learn

Review Resume and Cover Letter Samples

How to Make Your Skills Stand Out

ADD YOUR MOST RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: Review lists of the top skills employers look for when evaluating job applicants, and the best skills to put on your resume to help you get hired.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Use your cover letter to show the hiring manager that you're a strong match for the job by mentioning how your qualifications fit the job requirements.

USE SKILL WORDS DURING JOB INTERVIEWS: Keep these skills in mind at job interviews, and be prepared to give examples of how you've used each one.