If you have a passion for the culinary arts and dream of pursuing a career as a chef, New Zealand offers a vibrant and rewarding landscape. Chefs in this picturesque country play a pivotal role in crafting delightful dining experiences across various settings, including restaurants, hotels, catering businesses, rest homes, cafes, and bars.
Chef Compensation in New Zealand
The compensation for chefs in New Zealand is as diverse as the dishes they create, depending on factors such as establishment size, type, location, and job position. Here’s a breakdown:
- Apprentice and commis chefs: Usually start with minimum wage or slightly higher.
- Chefs de Partie: Command an average of $25 per hour.
- Sous chefs: Earn an average of $27 per hour.
- Head and executive chefs: Enjoy an average hourly wage ranging from $29 to $38.
For those curious about converting pay and salary information, the PAYE.net.nz website provides a handy calculator. The Employment New Zealand website also offers valuable insights into minimum wage rates.
Please note that this pay information is a guide, and further details can be explored through the respective sources.
Roles and Responsibilities of Chef
Chefs wear many hats and engage in various tasks to ensure a seamless dining experience. These tasks include:
- Preparing and cooking food according to customer orders
- Artfully arranging food on plates
- Designing, planning, and pricing menus
- Training and supervising staff
- Maintaining cleanliness and adhering to health and safety standards
- Managing inventory, ordering supplies, and overseeing cleaning and dishwashing operations
- Keeping meticulous records of supplies.
Skills and Knowledge Needed as a Chef
Successful chefs in New Zealand possess a range of skills and knowledge, including:
- Proficiency in food preparation, cooking, and food presentation
- Knowledge of budgeting, stock management, and menu pricing
- Understanding of hygiene and health and safety regulations
- Awareness of new developments in food nutrition, technology, and cooking methods.
Chefs in New Zealand typically:
- Work long hours, including evenings, and weekends, and may be on call
- Operate in various settings such as factories, hospitals, school cafeterias, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and rest homes
- Navigate kitchens that can be hot, noisy, and stressful due to the need for quick and high-quality food preparation
- Occasionally travel to food festivals, events, or cooking competitions.
Entry Requirements of a Chef
While there are no strict entry requirements, a cookery qualification can be advantageous. Aspiring chefs may pursue:
- A two to three-year on-the-job apprenticeship, including study towards a New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Cookery) (Level 4)
- A one-year full-time New Zealand Certificate in Cookery (Level 3)
- A one-year full-time New Zealand Certificate in Hospitality (Cookery) (Level 4).
Secondary education requirements are flexible, but home economics (food and nutrition) and NCEA Level 1 numeracy and literacy credits are beneficial.
Personal Attributes of a Chef
Chefs are expected to possess a range of personal attributes, including reliability, the ability to work well under pressure, teamwork, a willingness to learn, organizational skills, efficiency, patience, creativity, open-mindedness, the ability to follow instructions, good planning skills, and effective communication and people management skills.
Prior experience that can contribute to a chef’s skill set includes:
- Work as a kitchen assistant or kitchenhand
- Staging (internships in chefs’ kitchens to learn techniques and cuisine)
- Any work involving preparing food for others
- Experience in the hospitality industry
- Catering experience
- Bakery work.
Chefs need to possess a good sense of taste and smell. Additionally, they require a reasonable level of strength, fitness, and stamina, as their roles often involve carrying heavy items such as bulk ingredients and spending long hours on their feet.
Chances of Employment
Demand for chefs in New Zealand is robust, driven by various factors, including:
- Increasing numbers of restaurants, cafes, and bars as New Zealanders spend more on dining out, coupled with a rising number of tourists
- High staff turnover due to long hours and low pay, leads to chefs leaving the industry
- Chefs seeking opportunities overseas where they can potentially earn more.
Given this high demand, the occupation of a chef is listed on Immigration New Zealand’s long-term skill shortage list. The government actively encourages skilled chefs from overseas to consider working in New Zealand.
According to the Census, in 2018, 25,386 chefs were employed in New Zealand.
To attract and retain skilled chefs, some employers, particularly in regional areas, are offering enticing incentives. These may include health insurance, accommodation, and even a vehicle.
Diverse Employer Landscape
While most chefs work in restaurants and hotels, the culinary world in New Zealand extends to various settings, including:
- Bars or taverns
- Corporate catering firms
- Rest homes
- Childcare centers.
Career Progression of a Chef
Chefs have the opportunity to progress through different levels in their culinary journey:
- Commis chefs work across all areas of the kitchen, preparing and cooking food, and may also handle dishwashing and kitchen cleaning.
- Chefs de partie take charge of a specific kitchen section, such as fish or pastry. They train and supervise staff, plan menus, and manage food and equipment procurement.
- Sous chefs are second-in-command, managing the kitchen in the absence of the head chef.
- Head and executive chefs shoulder the responsibility for the entire kitchen, including staff management, budgets, and menu planning.
- Chefs may also choose to specialize in different cuisines, such as French or Japanese.
How to Apply
NOTE: If you do not have a work visa permit for New Zealand, start here and check the New Zealand Visa Application Process for more information
If you have a working visa permit for New Zealand Apply here