Confirmed: Cooking Not All That Lucrative

Sorry, not for you.
Sorry, not for you. Photo: iStockphoto

Reinforcing what we pretty much already knew, an upcoming book called Culinary Careers (by Institute of Culinary Education CEO Rick Smilow) makes a point of noting just how little money most chefs earn. Setting aside the seven-figure paychecks that big dogs like Batali, Colicchio, and Keller can haul in, the book, which is previewed today in NRN, says that an average executive chef earns something in the $70,000-$140,000 range, while a humble sous’s salary hovers around $50,000.

But those figures apparently differ region by region: the book also quotes Graham Elliot Bowles as saying that in Chicago, cooks only pull in about $30,000-$60,000, depending on seniority — a figure corroborated by 312 Chicago pastry chef Kimberly Schwenke. If you think that’s low, you can wave goodbye to your dreams of squeezing in a stage at El Bulli before it changes form: a cook on her way to assist Ferran Adrià said the range for someone at her level is “free to $15.50 an hour.”

Book offers details on chef salaries [NRN]

Confirmed: Cooking Not All That Lucrative