Hawai‘i Top State for Chefs, Head Cooks

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L to R: Chef Chang-Wook Chung of Seoul’s Kumsan Restaurant, Chef Wade Ueoka of MW Restaurant, Executive Chef Lee Anne Wong of Koko Head Café, Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi of Pili Group, and Chef Eric Oto of Hoku’s at The Kahala Hotel & Resort. Courtesy photo.

Hawai‘i pays its chefs and head cooks better than any other state, according to an annual employment and salary study published last week by Chef’s Pencil.

The report is based on an analysis of data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, according to a press release from the website.

The study says chefs in Hawai‘i can expect to earn on average $74,510 per year, which is 43% more than the national average. Chefs in the Northeast corridor own the rest of the top five spots, with New Jersey in second at $70,260 per year, followed by culinary professionals in Washington D.C., Delaware, and Connecticut.


When Chef’s Pencil compared wages earned by chefs to the average state wage, Hawai‘i came out in first place once again. Chefs and head cooks earn 41% more than the average Hawai‘i resident, the report said. West Virginia came in second with a wage difference of 29%, Mississippi came in third, Nevada was fourth and New Jersey came in fifth.

Urban Honolulu is the profession’s top-paying metro area in the nation — its average salary totaling $83,250 per year, the release said.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 1,080 chefs and head cooks in Hawai‘i in 2018, down from 1,230 in 2017. A link to the full study, complete with graphics, can be found here.


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