Chef Cooking

Best Places to Work as a Cook in the U.S.

Cooks and chefs are essential for the success of the food industry. Whether they work in a friendly, local restaurant or an affluent, MICHELIN-starred establishment in one of the big cities, their services are highly valued.

Even though all cooks and chefs are equally responsible for the continued growth of the food industry, it may come as a surprise that there is considerable disparity between states and cities in terms of how much a cook can expect to take home. As a result, many chefs and cooks may not be earning as much as they perhaps deserve.

Regardless of where they are in the country, however, no chef or cook will be able to secure any sort of role without the proper resume. At ResumeHelp, we provide the tools for job seekers to create their perfect resume. If you are a cook or chef who finds it challenging to snag interviews, check out our ideal cook resume example to see how you can amend your own.

This article will reveal the best places for a cook to work in the U.S. in 2022. These findings are based solely on the average salary, the number of jobs available, and the cost of living rather than any commentary on the overall quality of life there.


New Jersey

The Garden State is estimated to have the highest average salary for chefs and cooks, coming in at just over $64,000. The roles of chefs and cooks are up there at the very top compared to other jobs in the state. This is significant for cooks who inhabit New Jersey as the cost of living in the state is high across multiple areas.

Interestingly, Ocean City is recognized as one of the best small cities in America for chefs and cooks.


Hawaii ranks second in average salary according to some estimates but tops the list on others. The average wage is similar to that of New Jersey. The downside for Hawaii is that there are far fewer jobs available in total within the state.


In terms of pure earning ability, Massachusetts ranks third on the list, with an average cook salary of $56,000. However, while it ranks high in national statistics, it ranks very low compared to other local jobs. This, coupled with the very high cost of living, can make Massachusetts a tricky place for chefs and cooks to prosper.

West Virginia

West Virginia seems to be a happy medium for chefs and cooks. While the average salary comes in at just over $40,000, putting it somewhere in the middle of the list, the cost of living is far below the national average. This salary expectation is also much higher than the local average, suggesting that West Virginia truly values its culinary experts.


Pennsylvania ranks 8th in pure earning potential, with an average salary of around $52,000. However, chefs and cooks don’t suffer from a massive cost of living burden and are paid above the local average compared to other jobs. It is also the state with one of the highest number of jobs available.


Florida is one of the big three in terms of jobs available (the others being New York and California), with substantially more roles available than most other states combined. However, Floridians don’t quite suffer as much in terms of cost of living due to their tax policies, and cooks in Florida are paid considerably more than their New York and Californian counterparts.

Florida is also noteworthy due to the number of specific cities that frequently top these lists, with Cape Coral being ranked as the best large city (over 500,000 inhabitants) for cooks and chefs to make a living.