Chefs and Cooks

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects
Projected job openings are moderate
Qualified full time wage between $33,000 - $42,000
Source 2019
One cup creativity, two cups consistency and a whole lot of perseverance are what it takes to be a chef or a cook. Chefs and cooks prepare, cook, arrange and present food in places such as restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafeterias, aeroplanes, cruise ships and work camps.

There are currently around 2,700 chefs employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the accommodation, cafés and restaurants industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile with only a fifth of chefs aged 45 years or older.

TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Chefs and Cooks

Accredited (Award)

  • Whether in award-winning restaurants or fast food eateries, toiling in the kitchens amongst the fruit, fettuccine and the fries, are the chefs and cooks. A career in the kitchens is one that requires a great deal of perseverance. You'll be coping with the early starts, long hours and lost weekends, but if you have the knack for culinary creativity and consistency then it could be the job for you. And it offers good job prospects too; this is an occupation with great opportunities over the next few years. We certainly expect continued growth.

    Practical and Manual

  • Of those currently employed 62% have a Certificate III or IV; 3% have a Bachelor Degree; 5% have an Advanced Diploma or Diploma; and 25% have no post school qualification. It is strongly recommended that further study is undertaken if you want to remain competitive while looking for employment.

    TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery. Pathways include Certificate II in Cookery.

    Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA. Check the website for the full list of short courses.

    SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

  • Chefs can be employed in a wide range of establishments such as hotels, motels, restaurants, clubs, cafés, staff restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, flight catering centres, seagoing vessels and food processing factories. With enough experience and sufficient capital, they may become the owners of restaurants. The majority of chefs work in capital cities and in large country centres, particularly in areas where there are tourist resorts.

    The growth in tourism has increased demand for highly skilled chefs, particularly in establishments of international standard. In large kitchens the progression is usually from commis chef, to chef de partie, to sous chef, to head chef, to executive chef or food manager. Movement between employers within the industry may be required in order to gain experience and promotion.

    It is a very large occupation with very good employment opportunities.

  • Chefs and cooks can take on a wide range of tasks or specialities depending upon their skills and where they work. They are often responsible for managing kitchens, purchasing foodstuffs, preparing and cooking food and presenting it. They are also responsible for keeping kitchens clean and hygienic. Chefs and cooks are supported by people working as kitchen hands and fast food cooks. Other duties include receiving and storing supplies, planning menus and training and supervising other staff.

    Although qualified, Commis chefs are likely to be the least experienced chefs in the kitchen. Chef de partis control sections of the kitchen. Sous chefs are second in command. Executive chefs-also called chefs de cuisine, plan menus, oversee all staff and supervise the overall operation of the kitchen.

  • Concentrating on the task at hand is very important, as cooks and chefs work with sharp knives and around hot appliances. Cuts and burns are the most common occupational dangers. High standards of personal hygiene are a must, as a lack of attention to health and hygiene can spread disease and put clients at risk. Both chefs and cooks are required to do shift work, including weekends and public holidays, which can interfere with their social life. Cooking for a dinner banquet, where dessert may not be served until very late, then having to be back for the breakfast shift, can be tiring. And cooks and chefs spend a lot of time on their feet. On the other hand, its a very sociable occupation where you work in a team environment.

  • Chefs and cooks, particularly those working in larger establishments, often specialise in a particular cuisine or the preparation of a particular food. These range from Asian to African cuisines, to sauces (chef saucier) and to salads. And with confidence, creativity and experience, the possibilities are endless for creating new styles of cooking or combining different ingredients. There are four main levels of chefs - commis chefs, chef de partis, sous chefs and head (or executive) chefs that a person may progress through.

    Service Skills Australia
    Phone: (02) 8243 1200

    Australian Hotels Association (South Australian Branch)
    Phone: (08) 8232 4525