I blame the food network and the glut of cooking shows for this one.
When most people think of executive chefs they probably picture a 5-star restaurant with unpronounceable (and ridiculously expensive) menu items, overseen by a bellicose man in a white chef's hat barking orders with a thick French accent. And judging by this country's obsession with food and being Top Chef or Iron Chef, it's easy to see why people assume head chefs are rolling in dough. After all, these employees direct and oversee the entire kitchen staff, they plan the menu, and (sometimes quite literally) put out fires in real time and work in a state of constant stress.
But, as this list will bear out, popularity and perception do not always translate into reality, as the national median salary for executive chefs fails to top $70,000.