Chef salaries recovering: survey

by Bryan Salvage
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NEW YORK – While it’s nationwide 2008 Salary Survey posted significant losses, the 2009 Salary Survey from StarChefs.com, the online magazine for culinary insiders, showed some chefs are regaining their fiscal footing.

After a 13% dip from 2007 to 2008, pastry chefs salaries rose 5.7% in 2009, with an average salary of $48,861. Executive chef salaries similarly rebounded by 6.1%, to $79,402 from last year's figures. However, the lower ranks continued to drop. Sous chef salaries, the only category that did not fall from 2007 to 2008, finally felt the sting of the economic slowdown, dropping 4.4% to $42,266. Line Cook salaries continued to dip, falling an additional 2.6% to $29,662.

The changing demographics of professional kitchens were also revealed. Women, although still the minority, are taking strong leadership roles in the industry. There are as many female executive chefs (13%) as there are women chef-owners, according to survey respondents. Regarding location, sous chef salaries in California are well bellow the average in other major cities. New York beat out Miami as the highest paying employer of executive chefs and exceeded Boston's average executive chef salary by $14,000. However, the survey showed that pastry chefs earn significantly more on average in Florida.

The 2009 Salary Survey's conclusions are based on responses from nearly 1,400 chefs and other restaurant professionals throughout the country. Results of the 2009 Salary Survey can be found at: http://www.starchefs.com/features/editors_dish/salary_survey/2009/index.shtml.

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