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Job Description for a Pizza Chef
Pizza chefs, also known as pizza cooks or pizza makers, prepare pizzas and other food items typically served at pizza restaurants. Unlike chefs in upscale restaurants, pizza chefs do not usually receive training at a culinary institute or school. Many of the skills necessary for the position are learned on the job or in brief vocational training programs. Pizza chefs must be able to work quickly while under pressure and should be knowledgeable about state and local health regulations that apply to restaurants.
Pizza Chef Duties
Pizza chefs usually start the day by preparing ingredients for pizza. They ready the pizza dough, grate cheese, slice and chop pizza toppings such as vegetables and meats. Some also make fresh tomato sauce, while others use prepared sauce. Pizza chefs may also prepare ingredients for calzones, sandwiches, garlic bread and simple pasta dishes. They then make pizzas and other foods according to customer orders. Pizza chefs usually make pizza to sell by the slice as well. In some cases, they may also be responsible for taking customer orders. Pizza chefs must ensure that the kitchen meets safety and health standards as well.
Pizza Chef Training
There are usually few education requirements for pizza chefs. Most have a high school diploma or GED, and some take cooking or food service courses at vocational schools or community colleges. These programs may be as brief as a few months or as long as two years. Students receive instruction in basic cooking techniques and food handling and sanitation practices. Many employers prefer chefs with this kind of training, though on-the-job training may be provided as well.
Pizza Chef Working Conditions
Kitchens in pizza restaurants are usually out in the open, but the large ovens used to make pizza can still cause an unpleasantly warm environment for chefs. They are often under a great deal of pressure as well because they must fulfill orders in a timely manner while following safety and sanitation guidelines. Pizza chefs may be prone to minor kitchen accidents as well, such as cuts, burns or falls, but they are usually not serious. Pizza chefs often work nights and weekends, since those are typically the busiest times for a restaurant.
Pizza Chef Salary
In 2012, cooks earned a median salary of $30,550 a year. Short-order cooks earned a median wage of $9.48 an hour, while fast-food cooks saw a median of $8.85 an hour.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment for cooks and food preparation workers, including pizza chefs, will grow by 10 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is as fast as the average for all occupations. Since many people lead busy lives that require long hours at work, restaurants and other quick service food operations offer convenient, easy alternatives to home cooking. Many pizza restaurants also provide home delivery, which makes them an even more appealing option. As a result, there will likely be a demand for pizza chefs to prepare pizzas and other fast-food products. Low wages in the field also lead to a high turnover rate, which should create job opportunities for experienced pizza chefs.
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $38,920 ($18.71/hour)
- Median Annual Salary: $27,250 ($13.10/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $18,990 ($9.13/hour)
Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on BobVila.com, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.