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Lead Chef

Expert Sources: Edward Eum
Date: August 7, 2019
Reads: 1,496

Career Overview

Lead Chefs in television, film and commercials feed the cast and crew breakfast and lunch on production days. As part of the catering team, they feed from 50 to 350 people at any given time.

Alternate Titles

Key Caterer, Catering, Chef Driver, Head Chef

Avg. Salary

$50,0001

Salary Range

$25K – $69K1

Career Description

Eddie Eum is the Lead Chef at Bruce’s Gourmet Catering, a catering company that has fed cast and crew on leading shows including This Is Us, Big Little Lies, Scandal, American Horror Story and Modern Family.

He explains the setup for a catering team in the motion picture industry: “I am the Chef and Lead of my team. On production, I am actually labeled as a Chef Driver because I drive the catering truck! We work out of the truck itself and it is fully equipped with refrigeration and a full commercial kitchen. It’s a tight squeeze, but ours is a luxury compared even to some of the restaurants I’ve worked at.

“I’m lucky because Bruce’s Gourmet Catering provides us with really nice equipment. I also have a support vehicle, a box truck, which carries all our setup materials such as tables and chairs, catering setups, dishes, dispensers, you name it.”

Eum manages a team that breaks down as Lead Chef, Lead Cook (like a Sous Chef at a restaurant) and the Helpers. “We all have our stations and responsibilities and work in close sync to get the job done. Normally, we’re catering for well over one hundred people so we have to function together really well.”

On production days, breakfast tends to be served at 6 am and lunch at midday. For Eum and his team, that means arriving early: “We normally meet about an hour prior to service. The reality is, that’s not a long time to prepare over one hundred breakfasts, but we have such a well-oiled machine. We can have the whole breakfast set up in just sixty minutes — pop-ups, breakfast tables, a full buffet — it’s pretty incredible.”

Although the actual cooking is done on-site, Eum explains that much of the intricate preparatory work is done elsewhere: “A lot of our bulk prep — the fine cutting, the blanching, bulk cooking, meat marinading, fish gutting — we do that at a 40,000 square foot, state-of-the-art commissary where we have incredible equipment for bulk prepping.

“We might need to cook 40 lb. of pasta in one go because if we try and do it on location, we can only do small batches and it takes up too much time and, ultimately, sacrifices quality.” Eum says that it’s all about planning ahead: “We ‘re meticulously prepared so once we get on location or on stage, we concentrate on the actual cooking on the grills or the barbecues.

“We make sauces on the trucks and we have three commercial ovens for roasting vegetables and baked potatoes. In fact, not a lot of cook