Consumer Trends

Signs of economic recovery seen in the restaurant industry

The financial health of the nation’s restaurant industry is improving, according to statistics from the StarChefs.com Salary Survey. Executive chefs made 6.1 percent more in 2009 compared to 2008. And pastry chefs enjoyed a pay increase of 5.7 percent in the same time period. Here are some other findings from the 2009 survey:

  • Not all foodservice operations provided equal pay. Sous chefs and chefs de cuisine made nearly $10,000 more working at hotels or catering companies than they did at stand-alone restaurants
  • Salaries also differed across cities. For example, in 2009, an executive chef in New York made $4,000 more than an executive chef in Florida
  • Experience rather than education influenced the salaries of chefs. There was an almost negligible difference of $300 between the salaries of chefs who had and had not attended culinary school. But chefs who had worked abroad earned $13,000 more than their less well-travelled counterparts
  • Years of experience did not necessarily mean higher pay for chefs. Both executive chefs and chefs de cuisine saw their salaries top out after working for a quarter of a century
  • Inequity in the salaries of male and female chefs endures. Male executive chefs were found to earn $15,000 more than their female peers. The industry average pay difference was $17,000 or 24 percent
  • Disparities were also found between the salaries of Caucasian chefs and chefs of other ethnicities. African-American executive chefs, for example, earned $26,000 less than their white counterparts
  • Across the industry, chefs tended to work at least 10 hours a day. Chefs de cuisine spent the most time in the kitchen, clocking in at 12 hours daily. Only private chefs and chef instructors managed 8-hour workdays


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