A 7-step recipe for a winning chef resume


By Freddie Rohner, CMRW, Resume Services Product Manager, iHireChefs

Whether you are new to the culinary workforce or an established chef, taking the next step in your career requires special attention to one ever-important document. And no, it’s not your secret recipe for that signature dish; it’s your resume.

But like a recipe, your resume must include very specific sections and comprise an easy-to-follow format. It should also accurately reflect your experience and clearly convey what you have to offer a potential employer.

Although you may not be as confident in your writing capabilities as you are your knife skills or kitchen management prowess, creating your resume doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By following these seven steps, you’ll be on your way to developing an interview-winning document.


1. Identify your career goal. Before you put pen to paper, you need to determine the type of position you want to land. While it may be tempting to create a “catch-all” resume and batch blast it to dozens of employers, you’ll increase your chances of earning an interview if you tailor your resume for a specific position. For example, a resume for a high-volume conference center role will be different than one for a fine dining position. Customizing your resume will ensure that you explicitly highlight the skills, experiences, and achievements that are most pertinent your targeted role and show what you can bring to the table.

2. Select a format. There are three main strategies for formatting your resume, and which method you choose depends on your unique situation:

  • Chronological Resume: A chronological resume begins with a summary paragraph and core competencies section followed by your professional experience. For each previous and current position, you’ll note details about your duties and accomplishments. The final sections include your education, credentials, community involvement, and other relevant information. Chronological resumes are the most common and often best option for a majority of job seekers.
  • Functional Resume: A functional resume is different from a chronological resume in that it contains a “career highlights” section that spotlights your achievements. Instead of describing each position in detail, you’ll simply list out your employer name and location, your job title, and dates of employment. Functional resumes work well if you have gaps in your employment history, are changing careers, have held several short-term positions, or have performed many of the same duties in previous roles.
  • Hybrid Resume: A hybrid resume combines the most effective parts of the chronological and functional formats: a career highlights section and specifics for each of your previous positions. These resumes are ideal for applicants with extensive backgrounds of impressive achievements, recent graduates or candidates with notable accomplishments early in their careers, and job seekers making career changes.

Note: for the purposes of this article, we will discuss writing a chronological resume.

3. Devise a title and summary paragraph: No matter which format you select, your resume must contain a compelling title and summary paragraph. Think of these elements as “grabbers” – you want to capture employers’ attention quickly and differentiate yourself from the pack. For your title, use your career target (examples: “Sous Chef” or “Executive Chef”), which should follow your name and contact information. Next, create a concise and captivating three- to five- sentence summary paragraph that notes your experience and skills. Think of this as your personal, 30-second elevator pitch. Here’s an example:

Detailed-oriented Sous Chef with 15+ years of experience in classical and contemporary cooking styles and talents in high-volume production, casual, fine, and banquet dining, and catering for special events. Proficient in strategic planning, cost analysis, and purchasing/procurement with a track record of turning around struggling operations. Proven abilities in customer service, productivity, collaboration, and team building.

4. Highlight core competencies: Beneath your summary paragraph, list 10 to 15 of your relevant, key capabilities in an easily digestible format. This not only provides a snapshot of your skills but will also help you stand out in applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by many of today’s employers and recruiters. Here’s an example:

Food Preparation & Presentation – Inventory Control – Menu Development – Scheduling Kitchen Management – Safety & Sanitation – Food & Labor Cost Control – Customer Satisfaction Quality Control/Assurance (QC/QA) – Leadership & Team Building – Event Planning

5. Describe your professional experience: This section is one of the most important components of your resume as it supports your summary paragraph and list of core competencies with tangible career achievements. Here, you’ll list each previous position in reverse-chronological order with the following details: employer name, employer location, your job title, dates of employment, a short paragraph describing your day-to-day duties, and a bulleted list of your accomplishments. Here’s an example of how each position in this section may be formatted:

Best Restaurant | Washington, D.C. | 2014–Present

Sous Chef

Selected by Executive Chef to raise standards and performance of culinary operations within upscale restaurant with 400K visitors per year. Orchestrate food preparation for 5 outlets including buffet with 2K covers per day. Develop and execute menus, provide personnel training, and control cost of sales (COS) in conjunction with purchasing department. Advise team of 15 chefs creating dishes encompassing American, Asian, and Mexican cuisines.

    • Boosted F&B revenue 60% over 2010, contributing to remodel of buffet and 40% expansion in items as well as renovation of fine dining steakhouse that added private dining room.
    • Enhanced quality and catapulted ratings on Yelp from 1 star to 4 stars.
    • Achieved AAA 4-Diamond award in 2014.

6. Build your supplemental sections: The final section of your chronological resume should cover your educational background and any other notable, relevant details such as certifications, technical skills, training, affiliations, and even community involvement. List these details in a straightforward manner. For example:

Education, Certification & Technical Skills

Certified Sous Chef® (CSC®), American Culinary Federation (ACF), Saint Augustine, FL
Certificate of Basic Culinary Skills, ABC Institute, Baltimore, MD
Certified Food Service Manager, Baltimore, MD
ADP eTIME, Agilysys, Infinium, HRLogix, MS Office Suite

7. Review your work: After you’ve drafted each section, take the time to thoroughly review and proofread your resume. Although you’re not applying for an editorial position at the New York Times, glaring errors are immediate turnoffs for many hiring managers. Even a tiny typo or formatting faux pas can make a poor impression on a potential employer as it shows a lack of attention to detail or suggests carelessness. It’s a great idea to ask a friend or family member to give your resume a second or third set of eyes. But if you’re stuck and need more guidance, it never hurts to seeks out a resume writing service for expert advice.

Now that you know how to formulate a winning culinary resume, what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your dream job!

Not sure where to start in making your next career move? Check out the opportunities available on iHireChefs.

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