Friday, September 7, 2007

Location Makes a World of Difference for Culinary Graduates

The White House is known to employ some of the finest chefs in the country, but culinary degree holders are better off working at luxury hotels or casinos in Las Vegas than anywhere in the Washington D.C. area, a recent survey by shows.

The average annual salary for a Washington D.C. chef is $71,666, which is a moderate income considering the high cost of living. Many who work in the restaurant industry but have no formal education in the culinary arts earn $12 to $15 per hour and work more than one job in order to sustain a more financially taxing lifestyle.

Meanwhile, chefs in tourist heavy cities across the country (and across the world) are finding favorable employment options that offer compensation well above the norm. Chefs in Las Vegas, Nevada are earning an average of $85,000 per year â€" well above the national average of $75,596 and even more lucrative considering the fact that Nevada has no state tax. Chefs who work in some of the more prestigious casinos earn as much as $140,000 annually. This has tempted several experienced chefs who have no ownership stake in the restaurants for which they work to leave their existing positions for employment opportunities in Sin City.

Better benefits and more career opportunities are also attracting top chefs to the Las Vegas restaurant industry. The starting hourly rate for a line chef in most of the restaurants surrounding Las Vegas Boulevard is commensurate with the national average. Because shifts are often longer as a result of the steady influx of patrons to 24 hour restaurants at all hours, however, many earn full time benefits. Few other line cooks across the country can make that claim. Additionally, because of the relative transience of Las Vegas, those who are looking for long term employment opportunities are likely to experience rapid promotion provided they are competent and able to meet the requirements of the position.

Of course, salaries and hourly rates vary greatly depending on the worker's position. The typical restaurant kitchen will have a number of hourly-paid line cooks with different levels of seniority based on experience and longevity at that particular location. The longest tenured line cooks can command relatively high salaries depending on the quality of restaurant in which they work. Larger restaurants often have chefs who oversee the line as well as an executive chef who oversees the entire kitchen area or back of house. .

The type of establishment also affects a kitchen worker̢۪s potential earnings. Hotel restaurants at the more exclusive properties in Las Vegas are extremely rigid on quality, performance, and expertise. Those with the education and experience to meet their lofty standards enjoy higher salaries on average than their independent restaurant counterparts.

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