It all depends on where the chef or cook is employed. Most start off 30-55 thousand a year, and work there way up to as much as 75 thousand.
Simple cooks often make a lot less.
To answer your question, lets differentiate a chef from a cook first. The job of a chef comes with supervisory and administrative duties on top of implementing menus and developing recipes. Most working chefs who have to work the line (where cooking equipment are lined up for an efficient food production in a kitchen) make between $40 K and $60 K. Established chefs could get paid as much as $85 K. Remember they are salaried and could be working six days a week and 12-14 hour days.
On the other hand, cooks have it easier. They just have to come to work with good attitute, follow recipes and do what's being asked and told. Hourly pay for them could be as high as $17 in some high-profile places where only the best cooks survive the pressure. The lowest I've started a cook is $8 an hour.
I really like the above answer but I just wanted to add a few things. There are a huge number of factors that go into what you could make as a chef/cook. Just a few are the area you're working in (you'll most likely make more in New York than in Minneapolis), how much, if any, training you have. If you have a culinary degree of any variety you'll likely make more, even at a lowly line cook position, than someone without. Also, whether you work for someone else or have your own business can dramatically affect income. Just a few more things to think about.
I saw the reference to culinary school above and felt I needed to weigh in. Most culinary schools are a rip-off with the exception of some of the larger Cordon Bleu certified schools (CCA, CIA, Johnson & Wales...), but even those schools come with a VERY hefty tuition. What I've personally seen time and time again are these poor saps who just dropped almost $50,000 to get their culinary arts degree but have never had any practical life experience. These people expect to make $50,000 - $85,000 right out of the gate and it just isn't going to happen. Where I live on the west coast, culinary school graduates with no real work history will be lucky to make $28,000 per year, and many of those people quit the industry altogether after a short period of time because they feel cheated and rightfully so. My advice to anyone wanting to go into the culinary field is to work for at least three years full-time before even thinking about going to culinary school. Then, make sure to invest in a school that carries some weight - avoid those hokey local schools. Their degrees really are worthless. What people need to also realize is that in culinary school, you have 10 cooks spending 10 minutes making one thing whereas in the real world, you have one person making ten things in 5 minutes. That said, salary ranges vary but on average a semi-experienced cook will fetch about $8 - $14 per hour and a salaried Chef can get anywhere from $28,000 - $45,000. Real money's in corporate (hotels, casinos) or in catering.
The amount of money is already answered though it varies depending upon some factors. But the most important thing is that one should be happy with the work. Money is required for work but the pleasure of work lies with the environment of work which can not be measured with the amount of money.
My dad is a chef and he was still in school for is past 40 years of age! It is much like a medical degree, there is always more to learn and the more you know the more you earn. He earns around $40,000 but could be earning way more if he worked at a 5 star high end restaurant.
Well, I own a restaurant and I realize that the best thing in my life is that not making more money, its what kind of job and environment makes me happy in my life. I have read some of the comments, I agree some part of it but I bring a lot more than what they mentioned ; best of all, I am in charge and happy; If you have a chef or a cook interest, you should open your own..its more stress to work for some one else..
Not enough according to my search, and extremely difficult to even find a place to work in accordance with the statistics that I am currently experiencing right now In my job search. You know my complaint is not that there are'nt any jobs available but rather the application process has become so difficult in rapidly spreading the word about ones own desire to even become a cook that the entire process can discouraging. So yea not enough accoding to what I am experiencing.
from what I have learned you really don't earn what your talents are worth as a chief unless you own your own spot. If you are not the owner the talents of the cooks go greatly underpaid.
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