The 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (2023)

The 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (1)

A career as a chef is appealing to so many people due to the exciting and challenging work environment. Most newcomers entering the trade are prepared for the hard work that will follow, but can be caught off guard by the unexpected challenges which chefs have to face.

That’s where this article comes in! We highlight the biggest challenges faced by chefs, so we can be better prepared when they come our way; after all we all know that prior preparation prevents poor performance!

Modern chefs face many challenges such as high competition levels, a knowledgeable customer base and high staff turnover to name just a few. We will look at these issues and others in more detail

I have focused on the career specific challenges rather than the personal challenges a chef will come up against. If readers are interested in a compilation of the personal challenges, such as long hours and maintaining relationships, I will link to our article 12 disadvantages of being a chef which covers these topics in detail.

So without further ado, here are the top challenges faced by chefs.

Knowledgeable Customers

Today’s customers are far more knowledgeable and aware of what constitutes good cuisine. Gone are the days when a restaurant was able to make a customer feel like they were the uneducated one if they didn’t enjoy their meal.

Have you ever been in a restaurant and sent the veg back because it is too hard? Only for the waiter to return with instructions from the chef that it is ‘Al Dente’. Some rogue chefs would play on the fact that they could tell the customer what they should be enjoying!

Now however, with so much access to information, and people going out to eat far more often, the general customer base is a lot wiser, and a lot more demanding, when it comes to what they expect for their money.

This is generally a good thing, the rogue chef who did a poor job and tried to tell the customer they were wrong harms the industry. However, there can now be a situation where every customer feels they are a food critic and a damaging online review is only a few clicks away, even if it is unfair.

Online Reviews

Trip AdvisorThe 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (4), Google Reviews, Yelp. These are all great places where the general public can share reviews about the meals they have enjoyed, or not enjoyed in some cases.

The 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (5)

For some restaurants building a strong presence via reviews online can be beneficial. However, this does present some challenges to chefs.

  • Customers can be quicker to write a bad review than a good one, leading to an unfair overall impression of a restaurant.
  • Reviews can be fake. Fake reviews take the form of getting friends and family to post positives about a restaurant, or in more sinister cases, posting fake negative reviews about a rival restaurant.

Generally, online reviews can be very helpful to elevate the status of the best restaurants, but it is challenging for chefs knowing that every customer is only one poor dish away from a scathing review.

Unreasonable Customers

Anyone who has spent anytime in a customer facing role, whether in person or via the phone, will know that the customer is definitely not always right.

We have all experienced those customers who’s complaints or expectations are completely unreasonable.

A common example in the food service industry:

  • A customer will eat their entire meal before complaining the steak was not cooked to their liking and demanding a refund.

This can be very challenging for chefs as they have worked hard to provide a good product and service to the customer.

If the customer is being genuine, then returning the dish as soon as possible allows the chef time to put right any mistakes. More often than not though in the above situation, the steak was perfectly well cooked (or else why would they eat it all?) the customer just wants a free meal and is willing to upset everybody just to get it.

High Staff Turnover

As mentioned on many occasions here at, the transient nature of the catering industry is a huge benefit for chefs. We will typically work at one place for a few years before moving on to gain experience at another venue.

Whilst this is a benefit for the chefs moving on, it is a huge challenge for the Head chef trying to run a busy kitchen.

All work places benefit from a high staff retention rate and kitchens are no exception. Constantly having to interview and recruit new staff takes time and resources that could be better used in other areas of the kitchen.

Head chefs will do all they can to ensure their kitchen staff are as content as possible to try and maintain some consistency.

Staff Morale

A career in the catering industry can be very demanding, and takes a huge toll on the personal lives of those working there.

The Chef’s job is to maintain a happy work force so that staff are positive and providing great customer service. This can be hugely challenging when the staff are exhausted from long hours and little down time with friends and family.

Part of maintaining a high staff morale is the need to keep the chefs happy, which can be a big challenge at times.

Balancing Egos

Chefs are known for being a hot headed bunch who are not afraid to speak their minds. Part of this is due to the fact they know there are lots of other kitchen jobs out there.

The 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (11)

The Head chef needs to balance the various egos and personalities within their kitchen so that everyone comes to work in a positive mindset.

Challenges such as shift patterns and different wages within the kitchen staff can make this very difficult at times. For chefs, it can sometimes feel like we are constantly putting out fires when it comes to keeping the brigade focused on the cooking tasks at hand.

Making A Profit

Perhaps a rather obvious challenge, but by no means an easy one, is the fact that a chef needs to make a profit.

It is not enough that a chef needs to produce great dishes balancing flavours and seasonality, they also must ensure that the finished product, which is served to the customer, can actually make a profit!

This is by no means easy when we have so many factors such as wage and energy bills to take into account.

Many subtle compromises have to be made between the quality of the ingredients that make up a dish, and their monetary cost. This is a fine balancing act that all chefs must be aware of if a restaurant is to thrive

Serving amazing food that doesn’t produce a profit is a luxury only reserved for celebrity chef’s flagship restaurants!

High Competition

Everywhere we turn there seems to be a new restaurant or eating venue opening. Keeping ahead of the competition is a challenge that a chef cannot afford to loose.

A new venue will open, often near to our own restaurant, and will attract customers due to the novel nature. A chef’s job is to rain those customers back to our place by convincing them that the new venue is all swanky style and no substance.

It can be especially challenging if a new venue serves the same cuisine style as us, and is in direct competition. The important thing to avoid at all costs is a price war. This only results in a race to the bottom that doesn’t end well for both parties.

The 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (14)

Building a strong repeat customer base is the best way to ride out any storms caused by a new venue opening, but this is definitely a challenge that has a chef looking over their shoulder a little more than they would like.

Modern Cooking Techniques

Keeping up to date with the latest cooking techniques can seem like a full time job in itself for many chefs.

There has been an explosion in the different cooking techniques and gadgets that a kitchen needs to have in order to keep up.

This video from celebrity chef Heston BlumenthalThe 12 Biggest Challenges Faced By Chefs | Chef Word (15) highlights the challenge perfectly

If a restaurant doesn’t have some sort of foam on their menu they can seem like a dinosaur!

Knowing these new methods and the correct way to implement them takes time. A chef is busy trying to carry out all their daily tasks whilst also reading up and training on the latest fads.

For chefs the challenge of keeping a restaurant’s cuisine modern can seem like running on a treadmill, even if it is ultimately enjoyable, it’s still very hard work.


Chefs can often find a large part of their day taken up dealing with suppliers. This can range from placing orders to negotiating the best deals. For some this presents a huge challenge as this business side to the industry is not the reason they chose a chef career in the first place.

More often than not, we will endeavour to order produce from local suppliers, but this can present challenges as well.

By nature, local suppliers are smaller and operate with less staff. Local suppliers are more affected if their staff members let them down in some way and the effects are knock on.

For example, I would always try to use local veg suppliers. However, on many occasions I found my morning being taken up making phone calls asking where my delivery was. It would usually arrive around lunch time with lots of apologies about staff shortages, but that doesn’t help the immediate situation.

Larger companies can cover for any staff shortages a lot easier and the timings of deliveries are more reliable. That being said, I will always favour the local supplier as I believe the standard of the produce to be higher quality.


Anyone who has stood in front of their open fridge, hoping that a bolt of inspiration will jump out and indicate what they should cook for dinner, will know the feeling that coming up with ideas for dishes is not always easy.

Of course, chefs are professionals and have a wide range of previous dishes that they can draw on, but coming up with new dishes all the time is a challenge.

Venues such as hotels, which change their menus on a daily basis, are especially challenging for chefs. Being creative and being able to produce dishes on demand is not a certainty, as chefs suffer from creative block the same as any other art form.

Busy Periods

A restaurant will know when it can expect a busy period. Friday and Saturday evening, as well as public holidays are always prepared for by allocating extra staff and ordering in more produce.

However, chefs can often be faced with the challenge of busy periods that seem to come from nowhere!

All chefs will understand the great challenge. The kitchen is happily working away on an average Wednesday shift, when all of a sudden a bus load of guests seem to appear from nowhere without reservations.

The kitchen is suddenly expected to go into overdrive and dishes need to be produced at a rate simply not prepared for.

Not matter how long we spend working as chefs there are instances which just catch you off guard. The challenge is making the customers feel comfortable, even though all hell is breaking loose in the kitchen!

To Sum Up

Those are the main challenges that face chefs on a daily basis. The media likes to portray the image of a chef strolling through a market picking the freshest of ingredients for the day, but the reality is somewhat different.

As in any career there are many challenges and these are all part and parcel of a career as a chef.

Whilst these are challenging parts of the job, the best chefs manage to take them in their stride, and concentrate their focus on producing great tasting food for happy customers.


What are two basic problems facing the professional chef? ›

Mise en place solves the two basic problems facing the professional chef:
  • Problem #1: There is too much work to do in a kitchen to leave everything until the last minute. Some work must be done ahead of time. ...
  • Problem #2: Most food items are at their best quality immediately after preparation.
Oct 24, 2021

What is the biggest challenge for the restaurant industry? ›

Finding and Retaining Quality Staff

Finding and retaining quality staff is one of the major restaurant challenges. It's essential to have a team of skilled and dedicated employees in order to run a successful business, but attracting and retaining top talent can be difficult.

What are 3 things chefs do? ›

Chefs and head cooks typically do the following:
  • Check the freshness of food and ingredients.
  • Supervise and coordinate activities of cooks and other food preparation workers.
  • Develop recipes and determine how to present dishes.
  • Plan menus and ensure the quality of meals.
Sep 8, 2022

What are the 10 challenges? ›

Top 10 Personal Challenges
  • Run a marathon. ...
  • Take on a charity challenge. ...
  • Exercise your brain. ...
  • Surprise yourself. ...
  • Volunteer yourself. ...
  • Get a new job/seek promotion. ...
  • Overcome a fear. ...
  • Climb a famous peak.

What are a list of challenges? ›

71 Fun Challenges For Friends
  • Blindfolded Food Eating Challenge. Save. ...
  • Baby Food Gobbling Challenge. ...
  • Chopstick And Greasy Bean Challenge. ...
  • Bubble Wrap Challenge. ...
  • Longest Hula Hoop On A Trampoline Challenge. ...
  • Ice Bucket Challenge. ...
  • Balloon-In-Air Challenge. ...
  • Chubby Bunny Challenge.
Mar 2, 2023

What are the biggest challenges? ›

Here are 6 common challenges in life you must overcome on your road to becoming a better person:
  • Loss. Whether you lose your job, an opportunity, or a relationship – loss is an inevitable part of life. ...
  • Failure. ...
  • Setbacks. ...
  • Moral Compass. ...
  • Mastering Your Mind. ...
  • Overcoming Your Story.
Nov 18, 2022

What is the hardest thing for a chef to cook? ›

  1. Consommé Devilish dish: A clear soup made from meat, tomato, egg whites and stock, slowly simmered to bring impurities to the surface for skimming. ...
  2. Turducken. ...
  3. Béarnaise sauce. ...
  4. Baked Alaska. ...
  5. Croissants. ...
  6. Soufflé ...
  7. Macarons. ...
  8. Beef wellington.
Jan 18, 2023

What is a master chef challenge? ›

Your colleagues will break into teams, choose fresh ingredients from our pantry, then cook the most flavorsome and visually appealing dishes to take the crown. Teams will need to work together to plan, cook, compete and win, making this an ideal team building event.

What are the 5 common mistakes people make in the kitchen? ›

Five Common Cooking Mistakes
  • Packing Your Pans to the Brim. You may think you're cutting corners when you're pressed for time and pack your pan full of meat, but you're doing more harm than good. ...
  • Improper Preparation. ...
  • Adding Food Too Early. ...
  • Going Rogue. ...
  • You Overcook or Undercook.

What are 3 characteristics of a good chef? ›

Below are some of the very essential qualities of a chef that will help them achieve success in the trade.
  • Passion: A great chef has to be passionate about food and cooking. ...
  • Stamina: An essential quality of a true chef is stamina. ...
  • Leadership skills: It is the chef who is responsible for the kitchen.

What are 3 interesting facts about being a chef? ›

Interesting Facts About Chefs
  • 6 Interesting Facts About Chefs People Probably Don't Know. Chefs are the core of restaurants. ...
  • Many Types of Chefs. Chefs have different titles. ...
  • Chefs Coexist with Technology. ...
  • Chefs Master Science. ...
  • Chefs Appreciate Art. ...
  • Chefs Have Great Palates. ...
  • Many Opportunities for Chefs.
Jul 26, 2022

What are the 8 qualities of a professional chef? ›

8 traits of a true kitchen professional

What is the biggest challenge in hospitality? ›

Top 5 biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry in 2023
  1. Experience and Personalization. ...
  2. Sustainability. ...
  3. Increase in Hospitality Tech. ...
  4. Changing Consumer Demands and Markets. ...
  5. Rising Operational Costs.
Feb 27, 2023

What is one of the greatest challenges facing the foodservice industry? ›

According to a recent dining industry report by Bounteous, three macroeconomic challenges—labor, supply chain and inflation—will have a profound impact on overall restaurant industry performance heading into 2023.

What are the common problems that we face in the restaurant? ›

Here are five common restaurant problems and the solutions that can help to address them.
  • Inventory Shrinkage and Waste.
  • The Need to Reduce Face-to-Face Contact Between Customers and Staff.
  • Heavy Labor Costs.
  • High Employee Turnover.
  • Poor Customer Experience.
Feb 15, 2021

What are 4 duties of a chef? ›

  • Set up the kitchen with cooking utensils and equipment, like knives, pans and kitchen scales.
  • Study each recipe and gather all necessary ingredients.
  • Cook food in a timely manner.
  • Delegate tasks to kitchen staff.
  • Inform wait staff about daily specials.
  • Ensure appealing plate presentation.

What makes a chef successful? ›

Critical skills for success in the industry include: Technical skills: Cooking methods, knife skills, seasoning, pastry techniques, plating, and flavor profiles. Professional skills: Including “real-world” experience during an industry externship and other hands-on training in a professional kitchen.

What is the secret of a good chef? ›

The best chefs know exactly what and how much ingredients they need, where all of their utensils are located, how to pace themselves during crunch time, and what they can do to make the day as efficient as possible.

What is 12 challenges? ›

Most of you will have seen the 12 Challenge floating around on social media, but for those of you who haven't, let me explain. The 12 Challenge is to read 12 books that are recommended by 12 friends in 12 months.

What are the four challenges? ›

Discover, Explore, Conserve, Share. Four Challenges lie at the heart of the John Muir Award.

What is a difficult challenge? ›

meanings of difficult and challenge

(the situation of being faced with) something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a ...

What is a unique challenge? ›

meanings of unique and challenge

being the only existing one of its type or, more generally, unusual, or special in ... See more at unique. challenge.

What are main life challenges? ›

82 Examples of Life Challenges
Lack of Freedom / RightsLack of Meaning / Life Purpose
Lack of QualificationsLeadership Challenges
LonelinessLoss of Loved Ones
Making FriendsMean People / Haters
36 more rows
Jun 20, 2022

What are your challenges best answer? ›

Be honest when discussing challenges but be brief with your answer. Don't spend too much time on the difficulty you present, just state it and briefly explain how you dealt with it and what you learned from it. Do not talk about any extreme challenges that ended in disaster.

What are the three major challenges? ›

The three main challenges are the foundational challenge, the challenge of expansion, and the challenge of deepening of democracy. The challenge of expansion involves applying the basic principle of democratic government across all the religions, different social groups, and various institutions.

What are personal challenges? ›

A personal challenge is a challenge that's just for you; no other participants. It typically is geared around goals you set for yourself. Personal challenges can be easier to establish than group challenges because there's only one person to coordinate with.

What are the 10 challenges faced by small businesses? ›

10 main challenges that many small businesses face
  • Limited access to cash for financial growth. ...
  • Lack of business plan. ...
  • Problems with cashflow. ...
  • Difficulty in recruiting talented staff. ...
  • Having trouble standing out in the market. ...
  • Losing your passion for the business. ...
  • Pivoting to a new business model.

What is stressful about being a chef? ›

Burnout is especially problematic in professional kitchens where chefs are sometimes expected to work up to 12 hours a day, weekends, and often in harsh working conditions.

What things annoy chefs? ›

Liver, sea urchin, tofu, eggplant and oysters, of all things, topped the list of foods chefs hate most. Only 15% of chefs surveyed said they'd eat absolutely anything. Still, chefs hate picky eaters. More than 60% said requests for substitutions are annoying.

What should a chef not do? ›

12 Things Professional Chefs Want You to Stop Doing in the Kitchen
  • Making A Difficult Menu. ...
  • Mindlessly Choosing Ingredients. ...
  • Following Recipes Too Strictly. ...
  • Making The Same Chicken Breast Every Night. ...
  • Under- Or Over-seasoning. ...
  • Not Seasoning To Taste. ...
  • Overusing Cinnamon. ...
  • Throwing Random Spices Into Your Dishes.
Jun 21, 2020

What is cooking challenge? ›

It's a fun way for home cooks—beginner or expert—to challenge themselves to make something new or different more often than they might usually do so. There aren't any strict rules, almost anything goes as long you can make an argument for your dish being relevant to the week's theme.

What is MasterChef rules? ›

You cannot currently work as a professional chef or have ever worked as a professional chef. Your current main source of income cannot come from preparing and cooking fresh food in a professional environment (restaurants, hotels, food trucks, catering, etc).

What is the quick fire challenge Top Chef? ›

In Top Chef Season 20 episode 2, the Quickfire Challenge asks teams of three to create an amuse buche using RITZ Crackers.

What are the 10 kitchen rules? ›

  • Kitchen hygiene 101: wash hands. Making sure your hands are clean is at the top of the kitchen hygiene rules list. ...
  • Thoroughly cook foods. ...
  • Correct food storage. ...
  • Wipe down counter tops. ...
  • Food hygiene rules: don't cross-contaminate. ...
  • Clean your chopping board after use. ...
  • Bin basics. ...
  • Stop grease in its tracks.

What are 3 risks in the kitchen? ›

Common risks in the kitchen are; fire, electrical issues, burns, slipping, improper handling of kitchen equipment, food poisoning, and improper storage.

What are chef works core values? ›

Chef Works is committed to consistently delivering quality, service, value, and style to our all customers and partners. We know how important uniform compliancy plays into customer brand perception. Customers keep us all in business.

What personality type are most chefs? ›

Culinary chefs tend to be predominantly enterprising individuals, which means that they are usually quite natural leaders who thrive at influencing and persuading others. They also tend to be artistic, meaning that they are creative and original and work well in a setting that allows for self-expression.

What are the values of a chef? ›

The 7 Remarkably Powerful Core Values of a Chef
  • Passion. "Passion was the first of my 'core values. ...
  • Harmony. "In the restaurant business, everyone has to work together. ...
  • Humility. "We don't take ourselves too seriously. ...
  • Imagination. "We like to have fun! ...
  • Caring. ...
  • Courage. ...
  • Ownership.
Apr 15, 2016

What is the hardest part of being a chef? ›

Here are the five biggest challenges I face in my role as a Chef.
  • Competition.
  • Customer expectations.
  • Staff Retention and Recruitment. ...
  • Sustainability.
Feb 17, 2022

What is the most important thing for a chef? ›

To be a chef you have to be very meticulous in everything you do, from the simplest to the most complex task. You have to master culinary techniques, as well as the percentages of exact ingredients, the appropriate temperatures, preparation times and the safety and hygiene steps needed at all times.

What are 5 things that chefs do? ›

What does a chef do?
  • Preparing food and ingredients.
  • Managing kitchen staff or other employees.
  • Ordering kitchen food supply.
  • Controlling kitchen costs.
  • Cooking food and plating it.
  • Meeting with guests to ensure they like their food.
  • Creating menus or revising current menus.
  • Managing food budget.
Oct 18, 2022

What is the chef code of ethics? ›

Provide healthful, nutritious and delicious meals. Create menus based upon the client's needs and preferences. Use only quality ingredients and the freshest meat, fish, vegetables and fruits available. Maintain a professional and positive image of their business and the USPCA.

What are chef traits? ›

Skills and qualities
  • to enjoy cooking and cope with the kitchen heat.
  • a lot of stamina.
  • the ability to stay calm under pressure.
  • to be well organised and quick thinking.
  • to take a long-term view, as the training can be lengthy.
  • to work well as part of a team.
  • good communication skills.

What is the hardest thing for a chef to make? ›

  1. Consommé Devilish dish: A clear soup made from meat, tomato, egg whites and stock, slowly simmered to bring impurities to the surface for skimming. ...
  2. Turducken. ...
  3. Béarnaise sauce. ...
  4. Baked Alaska. ...
  5. Croissants. ...
  6. Soufflé ...
  7. Macarons. ...
  8. Beef wellington.
Jan 18, 2023

What is hard about being a chef? ›

Being a chef is not easy and it requires a lot of time, energy and dedication to get to a good standard. You will need to be passionate about it, because the hours can be long and unsociable and kitchens are a stressful environment.

What is the chef challenge? ›

WHERE TOP CHEFS MEET TO COMPETE. The Global Chefs Challenge is where the world's top chefs meet to compete in four competition categories. Selected through top performance at the Worldchefs Regional Semi-Finals, qualifying teams go head-to-head at the Global Chef Challenge Finals.

What are top 10 hardest dishes to make? ›

The Top Ten Most Difficult Recipes to Make?
  • Savory souffles.
  • Coq au vin.
  • Mole.
  • Beef Wellington.
  • Napoleons.
  • Paella.
  • Puff pastry.
  • Baked Alaska.
Feb 22, 2010

What is the biggest chef position? ›

Head Chef (Chef de Cuisine)

The head chef remains at the top of the hierarchy in restaurant kitchens without an executive chef.

What famous chef yells a lot? ›

Amazingly, after more than two decades of yelling at people on television, Gordon Ramsay is still Gordon Ramsaying. He's committed to the same bit that now spans over 20 shows, from his early Hell's Kitchen days, through the Kitchen Nightmares and Master Chef eras, and now on Next Level Chef.

What makes a good chef? ›

Passion: A great chef has to be passionate about food and cooking. They have to genuinely enjoy the whole process of procuring, preparing, cooking and serving food and have to be able to design menus too. Stamina: An essential quality of a true chef is stamina.

What is a chef's life like? ›

Head culinary chefs will spend the time before dinner delegating key menu items and overseeing mise en place. Throughout the course of the dinner service, chefs will find their roles vary significantly as they coordinate kitchen staff, oversee quality and production speeds and assist with cooking.

What is the hardest chef competition? ›

The Bocuse d'Or competition is the most rigorous culinary competition in the world, held every two years in Lyon, France. Twenty-four countries are selected to compete and each country's team is comprised of one chef and one commis assistant.

When did chef quit? ›

Chef played a less prominent role as the series progressed beyond its earlier seasons, and the character was retired at the beginning of the tenth season in "The Return of Chef" following the controversial departure of Hayes.

What is Top Chef Quickfire challenge? ›

“You break them up into groups by the swallow, have them pull from a knife draw and push them outside their comfort zone by introducing them to spices and ingredients that they may be unfamiliar with. At the end of the day, I look at how to build a challenge that tests them on their creativity, agility, and/or skills.


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