17th cent. Old Spanish xefe. From French chef, from Vulgar Latin *capum, from Latin caput "head" (see cabo).
The -e ending was originally neuter and then re-analyzed as masculine. Thus modern feminine forms are split between la jefe and la jefa. Jefa is first attested in the 19th cent.
Asturian cabu, Portuguese cabo, Galician cabo, Catalan cap, French chef, Italian capo, Aromanian cap, Romanian cap