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Career and Education Opportunities for Restaurant Chefs in Birmingham, Alabama

If you want to be a restaurant chef, the Birmingham, Alabama area offers many opportunities both for education and employment. There are currently 10,520 working restaurant chefs in Alabama; this should grow 24% to about 13,050 working restaurant chefs in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for restaurant chefs are expected to grow by about 7.7%. Restaurant chefs generally prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants.

A person working as a restaurant chef can expect to earn about $9 per hour or $19,010 per year on average in Alabama and about $10 hourly or $21,990 annually on average in the U.S. as a whole. Restaurant chefs earn less than people working in the category of Cooking generally in Alabama and less than people in the Cooking category nationally. People working as restaurant chefs can fill a number of jobs, such as: cook, food service worker, and sandwich artist.

There are fifteen schools of higher education in the Birmingham area, including one within twenty-five miles of Birmingham where you can get a degree to start your career as a restaurant chef. Restaurant chefs usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so it will take only a short time to learn to be a restaurant chef if you already have a high school diploma.


Restaurant Chef video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, restaurant chefs prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants. They also may order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

Restaurant chefs turn or stir foods to insure even cooking. They also season and cook food in line with recipes or personal judgment and experience. Equally important, restaurant chefs have to portion and garnish food, and serve food to waiters or customers. They are often called upon to observe and test foods to establish if they have been cooked sufficiently, using methods such as tasting or piercing them with utensils. They are expected to weigh and mix ingredients in line with recipes or personal judgment, using various kitchen utensils and equipment. Finally, restaurant chefs bake and steam meats, fish and other foods.

Every day, restaurant chefs are expected to be able to split focus between different tasks. They need to prioritize information for further consideration. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for restaurant chefs to carve and trim meats such as beef and lamb for hot or cold service, or for sandwiches. They are often called upon to estimate expected food consumption, requisition or purchase supplies, or procure food from storage. They also direct and supervise work of kitchen staff. They are sometimes expected to confer with supervisory staff to develop menus, taking into consideration factors such as costs and special event needs. Somewhat less frequently, restaurant chefs are also expected to direct and supervise work of kitchen staff.

Restaurant chefs sometimes are asked to regulate temperature of ovens and roasters. They also have to be able to butcher and dress animals, fowl, or shellfish, or cut and bone meat before cooking And finally, they sometimes have to formulate and price menu items.

Like many other jobs, restaurant chefs must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Birmingham include:

  • Chef. Direct the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts. May participate in cooking.
  • Food Service Aide. Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.
  • Food and Beverage Supervisor. Supervise workers engaged in preparing and serving food.
  • Institutional Cook. Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.


Virginia College-Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Virginia College-Birmingham, 65 Bagby Dr., Birmingham, AL 35209-3703. Virginia College-Birmingham is a medium sized college located in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 6,090 students and an admission rate of 64%. Virginia College-Birmingham has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated thirty-seven and thirty-five students respectively in 2008.


Certified Culinarian: An entry level culinarian professional within a commercial foodservice operation.

For more information, see the American Culinary Federation, Inc. website.

Preventing Disease Transmission: A two-hour training module for employers and employees who, while on the job, may be exposed to blood or other body fluids that could cause infection.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Quality Coffee Certification Program: The purpose of QCCP is to provide operators with sales tools and knowledge that will help them begin or enhance their own quality coffee program for their customers.

For more information, see the National Automatic Merchandising Association website.


Birmingham, Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama photo by Eric_in_SF

Birmingham is located in Jefferson County, Alabama. It has a population of over 228,798, which has shrunk by 5.8% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Birmingham, 81, is well below the national average. New single-family homes in Birmingham cost $187,300 on average, which is well above the state average. In 2008, one hundred thirty-two new homes were built in Birmingham, down from two hundred thirty-two the previous year.

The top three industries for women in Birmingham are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is construction, accommodation and food services, and health care. The average travel time to work is about 24 minutes. More than 18.5% of Birmingham residents have a bachelor's degree, which is lower than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 6.6%, is lower than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Birmingham is 12.5%, which is greater than Alabama's average of 10.7%.

The percentage of Birmingham residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 60.1%, is more than both the national and state average. Williams Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Westminister Presbyterian Church and West End Methodist Church are all churches located in Birmingham. The most common religious groups are the Southern Baptist Convention, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Church.

Birmingham is home to the Mineral Park Municipal Golf Course and the Cooper Green Golf Course as well as Avondale Mills Park and Smithfield Historic District. Shopping malls in the area include Acipco Shopping Center, Altadena Square Shopping Center and Parkway East Huffman Shopping Center. Visitors to Birmingham can choose from Marriott Hotel Birmingham, Rime Garden Extended Stay Suites and Studioplus for temporary stays in the area.