Translated from French, garde manger means “keeper of the food” so a chef garde manger is one that works in the cold kitchen. Also called a pantry chef, this professional mainly prepares the cold appetizers such as salads, cheese plates, antipasti and terrines.
Since most cold products are first in the meal, the quality of food produced by the chef garde manger is of utmost importance for a first culinary impression.
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Chef Garde Manger Job Description
Duties and responsibilities include:
- Preparing a variety of salads and hors d’oeuvres
- Garnishing dishes
- Plating cold desserts
- Keeping up with culinary trends and techniques
- Chopping, dicing and carving fruits and vegetables
- Making sure area is clean and up to health code standards
- Ordering and stocking of necessary food for station
- Washing all fruits and vegetables
- Inspecting food for freshness and quality
- Coordinating with other stations to ensure timely delivery of orders
- Following the standards and plating procedures of the executive chef
- Sending out butters, cold sauces and spreads with correct dishes
- Filling-in for other stations, when needed
- Managing subordinates, if necessary
The chef garde manger spends a large portion of his or her time cutting fruits and vegetables for salads and platters. They are also able to express their creativity and skills with presentation by creating new and exciting dishes through the use of pantry area foodstuffs such as leftovers.
The overall duties and responsibilities of the chef garde manger depend on the type, and size, of the restaurant where he or she works.
There are three main types of establishments that employ a chef garde manger – mid-range eateries, high-end dining, and banquet or buffet-style institutions:
The chef garde manger employed at mid-range eateries mainly deals with salads and desserts. In these restaurants, the pantry chef must have extensive knowledge of the seemingly-endless number of different types of salads.
Some restaurants in this class also add cold soups or smoked fish to his or her jurisdiction.
Along with salads, desserts and fruit plates, the chef garde manger in fine dining establishments is also in charge of a wider variety of cheeses, spreads and cold soups.
Other items that fall under the pantry chef’s direction include: preserved fish, roes, pates, canapés, preserved meats and terrines.
Normally, chef garde mangers are in charge of curing, smoking, seasoning and drying of items that need to be preserved over a longer period of time.
Banquet or Buffet Style
Those chef garde mangers who work in banquet or buffet-style establishments often find that they are in charge of the salad, fruit and preserved meat platters, in addition to the other responsibilities held by most pantry chefs.
One large difference is that, in a banquet-style setting, the chef garde manger has a larger role when it comes to artistically arranging the platters. They may also be called-upon to create sculpted fruits and vegetables, or ice sculptures.
Chef Garde Manger Salary Expectations
Most chef garde mangers are paid an hourly rate with a national median salary of $10.11 an hour, according to PayScale.com (January 2013). This works out to roughly a $20,823 median annual salary.
In the 2012-13 employment projections released by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chef garde mangers fall under the category of cooks which has a below-average growth rate of 8%. The BLS may revise these projections depending on the economic climate and outlook.
There is a marginally-high level of turnover, however, so there will be a need for new chef garde mangers.
How to Become a Chef Garde Manger
Almost all chef garde mangers hold at least an associate’s degree in culinary arts with a small minority holding a bachelor’s or higher. Some people have gone through an apprentice program which does include classroom and practical kitchen work.
Some tips to become more successful as a chef garde manger include enrolling in a formal training program, and receiving your certification in food safety. You may also want to consider becoming a certified chef from the American Culinary Federation (ACF).Bill Beaman