Editor’s note: Chef Jobs Overseas was originally published in February 2016 and most recently updated in May 2022.
Many chefs consider working overseas to experience new cultures, learn new cooking techniques and enjoy different life experiences. Taking a chef job working abroad – in most instances – will be a huge plus point for recruiters viewing your chef CV.
Working in a chef job abroad demonstrates your adaptability and drive to embrace different cultures. It also signals a passion to grow your culinary knowledge and experience. All things that catch the attention of employers looking to hire professional chefs.
Ask any group of chefs where it’s best to find that job overseas, and you’ll hear a number of different recommendations. These will likely be based on personal experiences and culinary aspirations. None of which might best suit you!
So while it’s great to canvas opinion and gather insight, what’s most important is to consider the what, where and how would work best for you when taking a chef job overseas. Let’s consider that in more detail.
Chef jobs overseas: types of chef jobs available
Looking for a stage
If you’re seeking this type of unpaid internship in a restaurant admired from afar then – good news – working visas won’t factor on the To Do list. But you will need to be polite, persistent, and have some cash behind you to realise your goal.
Seasonal chef work
Many international chef jobs are seasonal. This can be beneficial for many reasons. But especially if you you’d like to experience working in a location, before committing to a permanent move.
This type of chef work is typically found working in hotels, resorts, aboard cruise ships or yachts. Private catering services, language schools or camps are other places to consider. Often you’ll be able to avoid the tangle of visa considerations as seasonal chef roles tend to only be for a few months at a time.
Permanent chef work
For permanent chef jobs abroad competition is typically higher, especially at the head chef and executive chef level. These opportunities also tend to come with more red tape such as work permits and residential visas.
But if you have a solid chef CV that demonstrates how your experience and culinary training is a match for a role overseas, then it’s more likely than ever that your application will be seriously considered for the position.
Many employers now accept that hiring the right talent may require bringing in overseas expertise. They’re much more open to considering applicants that match their key criteria irrespective of where an applicant is based. Provided granting a work visa is permitted for an overseas candidate to take up the role.
Chef jobs overseas: where to work
This is entirely up to you, of course. But best choices should fit into the bigger picture of where you’d like take your chef career. Or at least be explainable at interview, when a potential employer asks ‘Why there? At that time?’
Italy, France, Greece, and Spain are typically thought of as the most prestigious countries in Europe to gain experience as a chef. The cuisine of China, Thailand, Japan, and India equally highly regarded in Asia. But again it’s where there’s a best match to suit your language abilities, your career aspirations and your timeframe.
If you are taking any kind of paid chef employment it needs to be where you legally have the right to work, or can obtain legal paperwork giving you the right to work in that country.
How to land that chef job overseas
Polish and update your chef CV! Make sure the date format you use to document your work experience matches date use in the country you intend to work. A classic example of this would be the day/month, month/day reversal between the UK and America.
Check your Only Chefs profile is fully up-to-date. Make sure you’ve uploaded your latest CV, refreshed your tags to include locations where you’re looking, triple checked your headshot, mobile number and email for accuracy and for readability.
And if you don’t have one already, consider setting up an online portfolio to showcase your best work. Remember, the more information you can give a prospective overseas employer upfront, the easier you’re making it for them to hire you.
Make sure the basics are right
Confirm with references that they are still happy and able to vouch for you when you get an offer to take up employment. Check that you have the right email/mobile number for them, so they can be easily contacted.
Research the jobs marketplace of your chosen location
It’s time to get online. You should be able to collate lists of job boards, recruitment agencies, direct with employer opportunities, chef forums etc. relevant to the location you’re considering, and then get applying! But don’t forget to check-in with your own chef network too. A contact might know of a chef role of interest.
Chef jobs overseas: other things to consider
Many chefs choose to take a chef job working abroad because the pay and associated benefits overseas surpass the package working in the same role at home. Especially if that country’s cost of living is less than their home nation’s. The tax free salaries of places like the UAE are undoubtedly a draw for some chefs when considering the ‘where’ to go overseas.
But if pay is the primary driver to taking a chef job overseas, be sure you know exactly how your salary will be calculated. Determine what, how and when you’ll be paid and taxed your agreed salary according to your new country. Research this in detail, so you’re clear from the off that you’re actually be better off.
Taking a chef job working abroad isn’t a holiday. It is about gaining valuable overseas work experience. So it’s worthwhile to continue to set yourself professional goals whilst out of country that feed into your long term plans. Think also about how you can network effectively during your time overseas. An international network looks great to any potential employer, and you never know what work opportunities could arise as result of it in the future.
Life’s only constant is change (+ death + taxes)
Change can be unsettling. The first few months working as a chef in a new country, in a new kitchen, with a brigade you don’t know is always going to be harder than staying put at home. But you owe it to yourself (and your family potentially) to stick it out for 6 months to a year, before making any kind of decision to relocate back home.
If it really isn’t for you, all is not lost. Treat it as a growth opportunity. You will have learnt new skills and experiences to take forward in a role on your return back home.
Many employers see overseas chef work experience as a valuable addition to a CV. It enhances the hard and soft skills a candidate can bring to a kitchen team.
Don’t rule out taking a chef job overseas on the basis it could harm your career back home. But do spend time thinking about how much benefit overseas work experience will add to your chef career goals. Careful consideration will doubtless give you an answer.
Good luck chef.