Chefs are responsible for the whole range of Navy’s catering requirements. As a Chef you could be cooking three to four meals a day for hungry ships’ companies or catering for official functions.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
navy landscape
navy chef square

About the role

Chefs are responsible for the whole range of Navy's catering requirements from cooking three to four meals a day for hungry ships’ companies, to catering for official functions including cocktail parties, formal dinners, buffets, morning and afternoon teas, and many high profile international and diplomatic functions. A chef is expected to cook for anyone from the most junior sailor, to Presidents and members of the Royal Family.

You could be preparing a cocktail party to be held by the Commanding Officer while in a foreign country or preparing a high carbohydrate meal for a new recruit involved in intense physical training. You will prepare meals at sea and ashore and may even cook 'in the field' on peacekeeping operations overseas.

Your career will start with initial and specialist training before posting to a shore based galley to practice your new skills. Further postings will see you serving at sea and ashore with further training and courses available to help with your career development and progression.

Job on base

You will work in galleys (kitchens) at sea and in shore establishments. You will work alongside fellow chefs who will be at various stages of their career. Your duties will include the preparation and cooking of regular meals for as few as 10 people to as many as 400. This means that you could be on watch anytime between 5am and 10pm on any day of the week, including weekends, or even be required to work through the night when at sea. As a shift worker your scheduled days off will sometimes occur on a normal working day rather than a weekend.


Job on deployment

In addition, whilst serving on ship, you will take part in various functions as part of the ship’s communal effort. This can be as varied as carrying out damage control activities, being part of a boarding team, general seamanship activities, domestic cleanliness duties, storing, and ammunition handling – just to name a few.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

Your hard work, experience, and training accomplishments as a Chef are rewarded by promotions in rank and salary. Following your initial training and consolidation, you can reasonably be expected to have attained a basic level of competence within 18 months of joining. This will be supplemented by a sea posting and then further training to prepare you for promotion to a supervisory role.

Advanced training will involve both generic leadership skills and development as a chef. Successful completion of these will qualify you for a promotion to Leading Hand whereby you will be responsible for supervising a team of chefs, either at sea or ashore.

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you will be posted to Devonport, Auckland. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Navy, and learn various subjects including:

  • Teamwork and support
  • Naval history and customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Core mariner skills and weapons training
  • First aid and firefighting
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-discipline

Your specialist chef training will be undertaken at the Navy’s Catering School where you will learn and develop skills in modern and relevant catering skills. Following this initial training phase, you will complete on job training (OJT) and consolidate in one of the galleys in Devonport Naval Base. As you gain more experience, you will post to sea for up to 18 months to become part of a small team onboard a ship providing catering support to the Ship’s Company.

Qualifications earned

All Chefs will be trained to NZQA level 4, undergoing an Apprenticeship in Cookery. The apprenticeship includes NZ Certificate in Cookery levels 3 and 4. 

Navy Chefs receive comprehensive training throughout their careers at a basic, supervisory and managerial level and receive qualifications in the following areas:

  • Food preparation
  • Food cookery
  • Food presentation
  • Food serving
  • Personal hygiene
  • Food hygiene
  • Kitchen safety
  • Customer Service
  • Causes of food poisoning.

In addition to chef training, you will also be trained in Advance Casualty Care. Chefs are part of Ship’s Medical Emergency Team and respond to any medical incidences whether during a training exercise or for real.

As your career progresses, you will undertake further training to develop your generic leadership skills and specialist skills. The ability to manage people effectively and efficiently is a key part of your development. 

Up to the level of Petty Officer, you will undertake specialist training in accordance with your trade requirements. When you attain the rank of Chief Petty Officer and Warrant Officer you will solidify these skills and be granted the opportunity to conduct more administrative and HR duties.

navy chef full width 02

Salary and benefits

Careers in the Navy are well-rewarded, as well as being diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, you will see your salary rise accordingly.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Our Chefs and Stewards at work

Life in The Vince McGlone Galley

It might be a 14-hour day, but there’s a lot of noise coming from the Royal New Zealand Navy's Vince McGlone Galley’s back-of-house section. Loud music, talk and laughter – you can tell the chefs and stewards are happy and pumping.

RNZN Chef Story

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.

3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the CV security clearance required for this trade. You must be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.

Find out if you’re eligible here.


There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.

navy generic base for roles

Ready to start your Navy career?

Other jobs you might like

You can also browse jobs by specialisation to narrow down your search.

Back to top