Chef titles explained
Posted 10 September 2009 12:58
If you have watched television shows such as Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, you will have heard various chef titles such as ‘Executive chef’, ‘Sous chef’ and ‘commie’ but you might not know what they all mean.
Most professional kitchens are very hierarchical. The structure will change depending on the size of the restaurant, its style and the number of people it serves.
Here is an explanation of some of the main titles:
Head Chef (aka Chef de Cuisine)
The person in overall control of the kitchen including staff management, deal with suppliers, manage costs and budgets, scheduling, ordering and planning what goes on the menu.
Chef de Cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef comes, and is more common in European kitchens.
Head chef is often used to designate someone with the same duties as an executive chef, but there is usually someone in charge of them, possibly making the larger executive decisions such as direction of menu, final authority in staff management decisions, etc. This is often the case for chefs with several restaurants.
Depending on their profile and other commitments, they will often leave much of the day-to-day running of the kitchen to the Sous chef.
Large businesses such as hotels may have an Executive chef whose role is very similar to the Head chef of a restaurant, but on a larger scale. They may be example for planning the menu and style of cuisine to be served.
The sous-chef de cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen) is the assistant of the executive chef and is second in command. The role overlaps with the role of the Chef de Cuisine as duties can include the scheduling of staff, organisation within the kitchen and general daily tasks. The Sous chef will fill-in for the Head chef when they are off-duty. They will also fill-in for, or assist the Chef de Partie (line cook) when needed. Small operations may not have a sous chef, while larger operations may have multiple.
The expediter takes the orders from the front of house staff and relays them to the stations in the kitchen. They may also put the finishing touches on the dish before it gets served. In some operations this task may be done by either the Head chef or the Sous chef.
Chef de Partie (aka Station Chef, Line Cook)
A chef de partie is responsible for running sections of a kitchen. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants and it is their job to ensure that the food goes out during service in the appropriate time. In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with "First Cook", then "Second Cook", and so on as needed.
Station chef titles which are part of the brigade system include the following:
Butchers meats, poultry and sometimes fish. May also be responsible for breading meats and fish.
A Commis is an apprentice that works under a chef de partie in order to learn the station's responsibilities and operation. This may be someone who has recently completed or is still undergoing formal culinary training.
Prepares fish dishes and often does all fish butchering as well as appropriate sauces. This station may be combined with the saucier position.
Prepares all fried items, position may be combined with the rotisseur position.
Prepares all grilled foods, this position may be combined with the rotisseur.
They are responsible for preparing cold foods, including salads, cold appetizers, pâtés and other charcuterie items.
Prepare baked goods, pastries and desserts. In larger establishments, the pastry chef often supervises a separate team in their own kitchen or separate shop.
Roast Chef (Rotisseur)
Prepares roasted and braised meats and their appropriate sauce.
Also referred to as a swing cook, fills in as needed on station in kitchen.
Sauté Chef (Saucier)
Responsible for all sautéed items and their sauces. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.
Prepares hot appetisers and often prepares the soups, vegetables, pastas and starches. In a full brigade system a potager would prepare soups and a legumier would prepare vegetables.
Kitchen assistants (aka Kitchen Porters or Kitchenhands)
These are kitchen workers who assist with basic tasks and may not have had any formal training in cooking. Tasks could include peeling potatoes or washing salad. Smaller kitchens more commonly have kitchen assistants who would be assigned a wide variety of tasks (including washing up) in order to keep costs down.
The person who washes the dishes and cutlery.
Do you work in a professional kitchen? Have you had any of the above roles? What was your experience?
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