Great Sous Chef Quality : As I mentioned in the introduction to this article Chef is a term that has recently taken on a new meaning in the hospitality world. If you know how to cook, you are now referred to as a “chef”. Well let’s see what a chef is and what he does. The quality of a Great Sous Chef will require knowledge of all the stations in the kitchen and the responsibilities of each of them and the Chef who operates and manages those kitchen areas.
Chef as defined by Merriam – Webster
Chef: skilled cook who manages the kitchen
Chef Origin: France, short for chef de cuisine head of the kitchen First known use: 1840
The key word in this definition is “manage”. A Chef has the training and experience to run all kitchen operations. He is capable of running every station in the kitchen, and has the experience and training to train kitchen staff to run each operation. They handle ordering supplies, including food, sanitation and typically work closely with the operations Food and Beverage Manager to ensure the operation has complementary drinks for customer satisfaction.
Kitchen Managers usually have good management skills but may not have training in Culinary Arts. Not to say the Kitchen Manager can’t or can’t be a Chef. It just depends on the operation and how they label the people in the chain of command of the operation.
However, usually an operation that has a Chef in charge of the kitchen is a high-end food service operation. Such as hotels, fine dining restaurants or country clubs to name a few businesses that will employ chefs.
It takes us to different levels of Chef and chain of command in food service operations. There are many levels of Chef in a large scale operation. The chain of command, from the kitchen in a large scale operation, can have several different chef titles in the operation. Big Hotels, Country Clubs, Resorts, Cruise Ships, Amusement Parks just to name a few will have many of these Chefs in their work.
Executive Chef (Chef de Cuisine or Head Chef) this position is responsible for all operations in a food service operation. They are responsible for writing menus for restaurants, banquets, profit and loss reporting and budgets for food and labor, scheduling of all kitchen employees, sanitation and food safety in the kitchen.
In the end they are the ones in charge of every plate that comes out of the kitchen and every meal that is served. They will have several assistants in the kitchen that they manage and train to handle all of these different purposes.
Executive Sous Chef de Cuisine (known as under Kitchen Chef) this position has many of the same responsibilities as Executive Chef. When the Executive Chef is not on property, the Executive Sous Chef is responsible for all kitchen operations. They report to the Executive Chef. And manage the training and production of Sous Chefs and the stations they manage in the kitchen.
Sous Chefs de Cuisine (Executive Assistant to Sous Chef de Cuisine) in a large operation there may be multiple Sous Chefs managing various restaurants, banquet services and multiple service stations within the operation. The Sous Chef reports to the Executive Chef and the Executive Sous Chef in the kitchen.
Restaurant Chef (Chef de Restaurant) this person is in charge of Restaurants in large operations where there may be several restaurants on the property. Large hotels typically have several restaurants and need a position like this to manage the property’s restaurant in the operation.
They are responsible for the training and production of all restaurant executive responsibilities they manage. They report to the Sous Chef and the Executive Sous Chef in the kitchen.
Banquet Chef (Chef de Banquet) This position typically works with the Food and Beverage Director (manager) and sales department in the planning and execution of parties that are on the property and possibly “off site” banquets the property has sold. In a large operation to most banquets are sold from a menu of several different options the Executive Chef has put together that are part of his / her style.
It is the responsibility of the Banquet team to work together to provide excellent service to these quests. Banquets are usually a high profit part of the operation. Because the menu is known in advance as well as the number of guests being known, there is very little chance for profit loss as long as the banquet is accomplished as ordered.
These areas of an operation are often the highest profit centers in an operation. They report to the Food and Beverage Director and the Sous Chef in charge of their area.
Next are the stations that make up the classical kitchen. These positions may be people that are in an apprenticeship. Learning all the different stations is required to become a Sous Chef. If one desires to become a great Sous Chef it is vital they learn all of these stations and the responsibilities of those stations of the kitchen.
Some people choose to specialize in one of these areas of the kitchen and have reached the goal they set out to do and are happy to just master one area of the kitchen.
Fish Chef (Chef de poissonnier) People in this area are responsible for the preparation of all the fish and seafood. They do the butchering and cooking, as well as, prepare the stocks and the sauces that will be served. This person frequently has duel responsibilities of Chef de Saucier. They report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in. This could be a Sous, Restaurant or Banquet Chef.
Pantry Chef (Chef de Garde-Manger) This person is responsible for most of the cold items served out of the kitchen. Like salads and cold appetizers, pates, and other charcuterie foods. They also report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in.
Sauté Chef (Chef de Saucier) the Sauté Chef is responsible for the Sauté Station in the kitchen and usually handles responsibilities of sauces served from the kitchen. They also report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in.
Roast Chef (Chef de rôtisseur) this person is responsible for braised and roasted meats. Depending on the size of the operation they will also serve duel responsibly of running the Grill station as well. They report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in. This could be a Sous Chef or Restaurant Chef or Banquet Chef.
Grill Chef (Chef de grillardin) The Grill Chef is responsible for all the grilled meats. In a lot of restaurants this person works a wood fired grill that handles several hundred plates a night. They also report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in.
Fry Chef (Chef de friturier) this person is responsible for all the fried foods in a kitchen. This person is often responsible for the breading and preparation of meats and vegetables on the menu. They report to the department head of the kitchen they are working in.
The Vegetable Chef (Chef de entremetier) this person is responsible for inspecting the product to make sure it meets the standard standards. Then prepare for the various parts of the kitchen that will use these ingredients. They report to the head of the kitchen department where they work.
Executive Pastry Chef (Executive Chef de pâtissier) Like the Executive Chef, the Executive Pastry Chef is responsible for the Pastry, Cakes and Deserts for its operation. Depending on the size of the operation they may have several assistant Pastry Chefs they manage.
Pastry Chef, (Chef de pâtissier) is trained to handle the production of Pastry, Cakes, Cookies and other desserts for the operation.)
Baker, the person who handles all the freshly baked breads, cakes and pastries. Bakers over the last half century have become a blur between bakers and pastry chefs. Usually operations that have a baker usually do just that. They bake the product that will be used in the operation. The pastry chef is usually in charge of the baker and orders daily for what is required from the bakery, including pastries that the pastry chef completes.
So as you can see there are many different places in a food service operation where one might be known as the “Chef” in an organized modern kitchen, in today’s world. If you are a Culinary Arts student you probably know about August Escoffier. He is the father of modern cuisine. He is credited with what we now use as the chain of command in the modern kitchen. How work stations are arranged in the kitchen and how to manage them.
If you’ve never heard of Escoffier and are interested in his works, I highly recommend studying his works. Her mother’s five sauces are what most kitchens in the world use today and the base sauce for every sauce made. I’ll be publishing another article soon that will cover Five Mother’s Sauces by Escoffier.
I hope this article has been useful to those who are interested in Sous Chef and his position in the modern kitchen.