I’ve watched hours upon hours of the likes of Hell’s Kitchen and Masterchef and always thought to myself “I could do that”. The truth? I can’t, I’m a terrible chef. At least Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator has let me live out my cooking dream though, with the game not only having you whip up the fancy food orders for customers but also manage the business side of your restaurant too.

Check out some screenshots down below:

Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator sees players creating their own restauranteur and managing their own restaurant, with the ultimate goal being to earn that Michelin Star to rank up high with the greats. You won’t just be handling the finances and making sure your place is in ship-shape though, but also have to learn all your recipes and whip up meals yourself. This means grabbing the necessary ingredients and utensils, prepping everything, and then making sure you cook it to perfection, with each meal graded on its quality. You still need to make sure the whole business a success though – it’s all well and good being able to whip up some tasty meals, but if you haven’t managed your budget efficiently, you’ll quickly find yourself going under.

If you’ve watched shows like Hell’s Kitchen before, you’ll know that a lot of prep work goes into the average day at a restaurant. This means you’ll spend the day before an evening service preparing your menu, ordering the ingredients you need, and generally learning how to cook each recipe. The game does a good job of reminding you of each individual step involved in prepping a meal, but with an emphasis placed on multi-tasking and working to a time limit, it’s a good idea to learn the ins-and-outs for efficiency. It actually felt really rewarding to learn the recipes and keep your kitchen running with minimal fuss, though your ever-growing cookbook does mean that there’s always something new to experiment with.

The cooking process is straight forward, though there are lots of different things to consider. You’ll have to gather each ingredient yourself and prepare them, for example. Want to whip up some French fries? You’ll have to chop up some potatoes before you put them in the frier. Want to make a tasty steak? You’ll have to cut a piece of the meat separately and then make sure you cook it evenly across both sides. It’s rarely as simple as whipping up some steak and fries though, with the need for prepping sides, dressing, salads, and seasoning, so players will definitely have their hands full with each meal they cook.

“Whilst cooking does take the limelight in the game, the management aspects are just as important and equally satisfying to handle.”

You’ll perform different actions in order to complete a lot of these tasks, and whilst you just have to wait in some instances, other times you need to be a bit more hands on in the cooking process. Expect quick-time events galore, though they’re intuitive enough that they never get repetitive or irritating. It’s more of a case of mashing a button for this, flicking a stick for that… you get the picture. You’ll definitely be kept busy during an evening service and you can expect to make plenty of little mistakes as all of the orders come in, but hey, practice makes perfect. When you do nail a dish and get a high rating though? It’s a great feeling (and so is earning some tips).

There are little ways you can fine-tune your cooking experience too, whether that’s by getting in better quality produce, moving the kitchen around to better suit your needs, or simply by tinkering with recipes to improve them. Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator puts all the pieces in place for the player to get started and run their kitchen, but you’re the one in charge so you make the decisions that can make your life easier or ultimately determine if your restaurant is a success or not. As you earn more cash, you can buy better equipment or decorate the restaurant to make it fancier, whilst you can even hire additional chefs to give a helping hand. Whilst cooking does take the limelight in the game, the management aspects are just as important and equally satisfying to handle.

I was pleasantly surprised at just how well Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator managed to offer everything I’d hoped from this kind of game. The cooking offers plenty of flexibility and finesse in your approach, but never overcomplicates any of its mechanics so they feel overwhelming. Deciding on the menu, preparing recipes and making sure you have the necessary ingredients takes some planning, but it’s all presented in an easy-to-handle way in-game so that you know exactly what you need. Improving your kitchen, hiring staff, and making your décor more fanciful requires a good cash flow, but the game offers plenty of ways to bring cash in (provided you’ve actually run your restaurant efficiently). There’s a satisfying sense of progression to the experience and even side quests to complete, whilst new upgrades are consistently earned to really make you feel like you’re building up your presence in the restaurant business. It nails all of the basics and it makes for a really fun experience, whilst it’s even possible to lower the difficulty if you find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed and want a more easy-going vibe.

Check out some screenshots down below:

That’s not to say there aren’t some issues with the game though, with some of the more obvious ones being technical. There were a few occasions where I couldn’t interact with the utensils in my kitchen for some reason, whilst another time I found myself stuck in a quick-time event that wouldn’t complete. I also saw my progress not save in one instance which was a real bummer. There were a lot of little things that added up, and whilst there was rarely anything game-breaking, they could be a bit of a nuisance.

Then there were some other little things that could have done with improving, with the controls being a little clumsy at times and some unrealistic aspects in the kitchen itself. You can hire chefs to help out for example, but sometimes they won’t complete the simplest of tasks for you. Upgrading items in your recipe book can be unnecessarily finicky too, whilst your storage options for food sometimes felt inadequate (I’m talking about you, fridge). Again, nothing game-breaking, but just some areas that could have seen improvement.

Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator Review

I’ve had a really fun time playing Chef Life: A Restaurant Simulator, with the blend of cooking and managing a restaurant feeling super rewarding. It helps that the game manages to nail all aspects of its design, with every facet of the gameplay offering enough to keep players invested but without overwhelming them with needlessly awkward mechanics. It’s just a really enjoyable experience and certainly scratches that wannabe restauranteur itch that a lot of players might have after watching their favourite chefs on TV.

It does have some issues with the most notable being some of the technical bugs in the game, but they didn’t stop me from having a really good time on my quest to earn that Michelin Star.

Developer: Cyanide Studio
Publisher: Nacon
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Website: https://www.cheflifegame.com/