15 Career Change Ideas for a Chef: Beyond the Kitchen

If you're a chef who yearns for a new challenge or seeks a different path beyond the kitchen, you've come to the right place. While the culinary world is undoubtedly fulfilling for some, it's natural to feel the desire to explore alternative career avenues that allow you to leverage your culinary skills and passion in unique and exciting ways.

Key Takeaways

If you're a chef who yearns for a new challenge or seeks a different path beyond the kitchen, you've come to the right place. While the culinary world is undoubtedly fulfilling for some, it's natural to feel the desire to explore alternative career avenues that allow you to leverage your culinary skills and passion in unique and exciting ways.

In this article, we'll explore various career change ideas that can provide fresh opportunities to expand your horizons, embark on new adventures, and discover fulfilling paths outside the traditional culinary realm. 

So, let's uncover 15 career-change ideas for a chef and embrace the many possibilities that await you!

Why Make a Career Change?

The demanding nature of the culinary industry can lead to a lack of work-life balance and resulting burnout. If you're tired of managing burnt-out cooks or preparing meals in dog-eat-dog conditions, changing careers might be your next best step.

Unhealthy Stress Levels

Long hours, high stress, and physical demands can take a toll on chefs, prompting them to seek alternative career paths that offer a better quality of life.

Kitchens tend to be these high-pressure environments where chefs learn to work despite "burns, cuts, and sickness... This ‘toughen up’ ideal was glamorised in the late 90s and early 2000s, which resulted in kitchen culture fetishizing extreme pressure and turning the kitchen into a war zone. As a result, it led to a taboo around mental ill-health." (1)

According to a survey by Chef's Pencil, an online culinary publication, 58% of chefs reported experiencing work-related mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, the same survey revealed that 75% of chefs had contemplated leaving the industry altogether due to the challenging work environment.

Feeling Limited

Despite your passion for the craft, you may also find yourself limited by the traditional career trajectory within the culinary field. The industry can be highly competitive, with limited opportunities for growth and advancement.

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You may desire greater autonomy, creative freedom, and the chance to explore new challenges beyond the confines of a restaurant kitchen.

Your Skills as a Chef

After a few years, it's easy to take your skill set for granted and fail to see all you've learned in your career. From executive to sous to specialized chefs, "each type of chef can cover a variety of different tasks, from organization and training to menu development and recipe creation." (2)

As a chef, you've gained the following abilities:

  • Hard skills: Technical skills you learned to do your job
  • Soft skills: Innate or developed talents and abilities

Next, we'll look at your hard skills and see which jobs may best suit you when making a career change into another food industry job.

Later, we'll see what jobs (unrelated to the food industry) may suit your unique talents.

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Your Hard Skills are In High-Demand

As a chef, you generally possess extensive technical knowledge of ingredients, flavor profiles, cooking methods, and food safety practices. You can create well-balanced menus, develop innovative recipes, and adapt to different cuisines. You continually enhance your culinary skills through ongoing learning and experimentation.

With all that talent, when it comes to the food industry, the world is your oyster! (Rockefeller or raw ;)

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of chefs exploring alternative career paths related to the food industry. Let's see some of the possibilities starting with communications!

Chef Cooking in the Kitchen
Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

1- Food Writer, Photographer, or Vlogger: 

Think Healthy Eating, Recipes, Fancy Food Photos, Life as a Head Chef, etc.

Average Salary in US: $63,594/yr

Food writing or communication focuses on recipes, culinary trends, restaurant reviews, food culture, and personal experiences related to food. Food communications experts often share their knowledge and insights through articles, blogs or video posts, podcasts, cookbooks, recipes, and social media content.

If you're a chef looking to break into the field of food writing, you'll need to hone your communication skills.Take the time to practice writing, taking photos, or talking for the camera and improve your ability to communicate effectively through words. 

Consider taking writing courses or workshops to sharpen your skills such as an Unmudl online or in-person course:

Launching your own food blog can be an excellent way to showcase your culinary expertise. Share your unique recipes, cooking tips, and insights on food-related topics. Consistently publish high-quality content to establish your presence in the food writing community.

Consider this online on-demand course to learn how to market your blog, vlog, photos, etc!

Use social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to share your culinary creations, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and insights on food-related topics. Engage with your audience and establish yourself as an authority in the field.

2- Culinary Education: Culinary Arts Teacher

Culinary Arts Teacher Average Salary in US: $66,646

A culinary instructor or educator teaches aspiring chefs and culinary students various culinary skills and techniques. They typically work in culinary schools, vocational institutions, or community colleges, and their role involves imparting culinary knowledge, supervising practical cooking sessions, conducting demonstrations, and assessing students' progress.

Chef teachers often bring real-world insights and practical knowledge into the classroom, offering valuable perspectives on working in professional kitchens and the culinary industry. Here are some steps to help you break into this field:

Consider taking courses or workshops on teaching methods, instructional design, and classroom management. Practice delivering presentations, demonstrations, and guiding practical cooking sessions to build your teaching skills. Consider these online classes to get started.

Your industry experience working in a professional kitchen as a chef will provide valuable insights and practical knowledge that you can share with your future students.

3- Catering

Average salary in the US: $95,435/ yr

As a chef, starting a catering business is very different from what restaurant owners do. Catering allows you to express your culinary creativity and showcase your unique cooking style. You can design custom menus, create innovative dishes, and deliver exceptional dining experiences to clients.

From weddings and corporate functions to private parties and special occasions, the catering industry presents diverse opportunities. This variety allows you to explore different culinary styles, cuisines, and themes, keeping your work dynamic and stimulating.

You also have the chance to develop long-term relationships with clients and event planners. Satisfied customers may become repeat clients for future events, leading to a steady stream of business and word-of-mouth referrals. Building a solid reputation in the catering industry can contribute to the growth and success of your business.

Starting a catering business as a chef allows you to embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. You have control over your business operations, branding, and growth strategies. This independence allows you to shape the direction of your business, make strategic decisions, and pursue your culinary passion while building a successful enterprise.

Consider a course to learn more about starting and running your own business before starting this exciting new career path.

The catering industry is dynamic and ever-evolving, providing ample opportunities for continuous learning and growth.

4- Food Consulting

Average in US: $76,427/yr

A food consultant is a professional who provides expert advice and guidance to individuals, businesses, or organizations in the food industry. They help clients improve their food-related operations, products, and services.

Food consultants undertake various responsibilities, such as:

  • Menu development
  • Recipe development and testing
  • Quality control and food safety
  • Operational efficiency assessment
  • Product development
  • Culinary training and education
  • Market research and trend analysis
  • Food branding and marketing

A food consultant contributes to the success and growth of food-related businesses by enhancing culinary offerings, optimizing operations, and staying ahead of industry trends.

To communicate well in business relationships, you may consider courses to better understand the business world, such as:

Transitioning into this role requires culinary skills, business acumen, and consulting expertise. By leveraging your culinary background, acquiring additional skills, and building a solid network, you can successfully transition and establish yourself as a reputable food consultant in the industry.

5- Food Safety Consultant: Health and Safety Codes

Average Salary in US: $57,520

A food safety consultant is a professional who helps develop and update food safety plans/systems for companies. They help to bring technical expertise and knowledge that companies may be lacking.

These career safety professionals do the following:

  • Improving their overall food safety systems
  • Preparing for audits
  • Identifying potential safety risks
  • Helping to manage the safety of their supply chain (1)

To break into this field, you'll need to consider enrolling in courses or workshops related to food service management, culinary entrepreneurship, food safety regulations, nutrition, marketing, and business development.

Check out our courses online at Unmudl.com, including:

Learning about how businesses look at quality control will help you develop a well-rounded skill set to start pursuing this exciting new career!

Men Wearing a Black Lapel in a Store
Photo by Adrien Olichon

Your Soft Skills are In High-Demand

As a chef, you also possess unique soft skills that enable you to excel in the culinary profession. Your ability to create delectable dishes, manage kitchens efficiently, and thrive in the demanding culinary industry, means you're known for specific soft skills.

Next, we will delve into some soft skills you may have learned over the years. Ensure a successful career transition by adding the abilities you identify with to your resume!


Chefs have a natural inclination for creativity, allowing them to envision unique flavor combinations, design visually appealing dishes, and develop innovative recipes. You can transform basic ingredients into extraordinary culinary creations. You have an innate ability to think outside the box, combine flavors, and present dishes in visually appealing ways.

Your constant experimentation with ingredients, techniques, and presentation styles delivers memorable dining experiences. Your creativity allows you to innovate and develop unique recipes that tantalize diners' taste buds.

Time Management

In a fast-paced kitchen environment, time management is crucial. Chefs excel in managing their time effectively to ensure that meals are prepared and served promptly.

You possess excellent organizational skills, prioritize tasks, and multitask efficiently. You understand the importance of coordinating with a team and the preparation of multiple dishes simultaneously.

Attention to Detail

Chefs have a keen eye for detail, vital in maintaining high-quality standards. You pay attention to every aspect of food preparation, from ingredients selection to the final dish's plating. You strive for perfection and are meticulous in your culinary techniques, ensuring that flavors are balanced, textures are harmonious, and presentation is impeccable.


Chefs often lead a team of kitchen staff, and strong leadership skills are essential. They provide clear instructions, delegate tasks effectively, and motivate their team members. Chefs exhibit excellent communication skills, fostering a positive work environment and promoting collaboration. You guide and mentor staff, encouraging professional growth and ensuring everyone works cohesively toward a common goal.

Chefs often oversee teams of cooks, sous chefs, and kitchen staff. Strong leadership skills are vital for managing and motivating diverse individuals, delegating tasks efficiently, and maintaining a harmonious working environment. Effective communication, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities are essential in guiding and inspiring the team.


The kitchen can present various challenges, and chefs are adept at finding solutions quickly and efficiently. They possess excellent problem-solving skills, allowing them to think on their feet and make decisions under pressure. You quickly troubleshoot issues related to ingredient availability, equipment malfunctions, and unexpected situations that arise during service.


The culinary world is dynamic, and chefs must be adaptable to changing circumstances. You can handle unexpected situations, such as fluctuating ingredient availability, dietary restrictions, and last-minute menu changes.

Chefs are known for thinking on their feet, adjusting recipes on the fly, and quickly finding solutions to problems such as new ingredients, dietary restrictions, or unexpected challenges. Flexibility in adjusting recipes and accommodating the preferences and needs of their guests, chefs must adapt to ever-changing circumstances.

Teamwork and Communication

Collaboration and effective communication are fundamental in a bustling kitchen environment. Chefs excel at working as part of a team, fostering a sense of camaraderie among their staff. You communicate clearly and concisely, ensuring everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. 

Chefs also listen actively, value the input of their team members, and promote a supportive and respectful work atmosphere.

Non-Food-Related Careers for Chefs

With the soft skills listed above, you have a world of options to consider. 

Your natural talents and abilities give you the upper hand in various careers unrelated to the food industry. Here are some options to consider:

6- Interior Designer

Average Salary in US: $56,040 per year

Use your creativity and attention to detail to create visually appealing and functional spaces for residential or commercial clients.

Start by researching and familiarizing yourself with interior design principles, styles, and industry trends. Consider enrolling in relevant courses or pursuing a certification in interior design. Build a portfolio showcasing your creative projects and any interior design work.

Network with professionals in the design industry, attend design events, and seek internships or apprenticeships to gain hands-on experience. Highlight your attention to detail, creativity, and ability to work with diverse teams when applying for interior design positions or freelance projects. 

By combining your culinary background with your newfound design expertise, you can successfully transition into a rewarding career as an interior designer.

7- Graphic Designer

Average Salary in US: $52,110 per year

Apply your creativity when decorating and plating dishes to design visually compelling graphics, branding materials, and digital media. Try an online course to get your feet wet in this field.

Begin by familiarizing yourself with graphic design software and principles through online tutorials or courses, such as the ones above.Transitioning from chef jobs to becoming a graphic designer involves capitalizing on your creative abilities and honing your design skills.

Practice designing various projects, such as logos, brochures, or websites, to build a diverse portfolio showcasing your artistic vision. Network with professionals in the design industry, collaborate on design projects and seek internships or freelance opportunities to gain practical experience.

Emphasize your creativity, attention to detail, and ability to translate concepts into visually appealing designs when applying for graphic design roles or freelance gigs. With persistence and dedication, you can successfully transition

8- Event Planner

Average Salary in US: $51,560 per year

Utilize your time management, problem-solving, and leadership skills to organize and coordinate various events, such as weddings, conferences, or corporate gatherings.

Leverage your organizational skills, attention to detail, and leadership abilities. Consider enrolling in event planning courses or certifications to gain industry knowledge and learn best practices. To build your leadership abilities, consider an online class such as:

Showcase your creativity and ability to manage multiple tasks simultaneously during interviews. By applying your skills to the event planning field, you can successfully transition into a rewarding career as an event planner.

9- Project Manager

Average Salary in US: $76,520 per year

Leverage your leadership, time management, and communication skills to oversee and coordinate projects in various industries, ensuring timely completion and successful outcomes. Get certified in a few short weeks with an online and on-demand course from Unmudl:

After getting certified in project management, a chef can transition by showcasing their strong leadership skills, adaptability, and ability to handle multiple tasks to potential employers to secure a project management role.

10- Marketing Manager

Average Salary in US: $135,900 per year

Employ your creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills to develop and implement marketing strategies, campaigns, and initiatives to promote products or services.

Use your creative mindset, strong communication skills, and understanding of consumer preferences to promote products or services effectively.

11- User Experience (UX) Designer

Average Salary in US: $90,310 per year

Apply your problem-solving, adaptability, and attention to detail to create intuitive and user-friendly digital experiences and interfaces. Get into the next offering of the below course to set your sights on moving into this lucrative new career!

12- Retail Visual Merchandiser

Average Salary in US: $31,720 per year

As a chef transitioning to a retail visual merchandiser role, leverage your creativity and attention to detail to design and arrange visually appealing displays and layouts in retail environments, captivating customers and driving sales.

Incorporate your knowledge of consumer psychology and product placement strategies to create engaging visual experiences that effectively showcase merchandise and enhance the overall retail environment as a chef transitioning to a retail visual merchandiser.

14- Human Resources Manager

Average Salary in US: $121,220 per year

Utilize your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills to manage and develop human resources strategies, policies, and programs within an organization. 

Consider our Unmudl course:

15- Sales Manager

Average Salary in US: $135,090 per year

Apply your leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills to manage and motivate sales teams and drive revenue growth for a company.

With the online on-demand course above, learn about Salesforce, a cloud-based software helping businesses connect with and get more information about their customer base. Gain the administrator skill set, including instance configuration, customization, security, forecasting, data management, and other best practices.

Man and Woman Wearing Black and White Striped Aprons Cooking
Photo by Elle Hughes from Pexels

Finding a Rewarding Job Takes Time and Thought

Transitioning into a new career may require additional training, education, or experience. Consider exploring opportunities for professional development, networking, and gaining relevant certifications to enhance your chances of success in your chosen field.

Participating in workshops, conferences, and industry events can provide valuable insights, knowledge, and networking opportunities. These events often feature experienced career changers who can share their expertise and offer guidance on breaking into the field.

Our Community College and Business Network Can Help

At Unmudl, our community college network offers a wide range of certificate programs, diplomas, and associate degrees tailored to various industries. By partnering with local and national businesses, our colleges align their curricula with industry needs, ensuring you receive relevant and up-to-date training.

Our network collaborations provide opportunities for internships, apprenticeships, and job placement programs, allowing you to gain practical experience while pursuing the knowledge you need to succeed!

With Unmudl, you access valuable resources, guidance from industry professionals, and tailored educational pathways to successfully transition into your desired career.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

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