Serving as the second-in-command in the kitchen, the sous chef reports directly to the executive or head chef. Most people consider them as the “enforcer” of the executive chef’s policies as they help keep the kitchen running like a well-oiled machine.
Typically, the sous chef is seen as the apprentice to the executive chef who acts as his or her mentor. For those looking to advance their culinary career, this position offers on-the-job training and is considered a stepping stone to eventually becoming an executive chef.
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Sous Chef Job Description
The sous chef has an enormous amount of responsibility and considered vital to the success and efficiency of a commercial kitchen. Normally, you’ll find them running the kitchen when the executive chef isn’t working or available.
Their exact duties and responsibilities may change from type of restaurant or establishment to the next, but they are always second-in-command.
Duties and responsibilities include:
- Making sure the implementation of the executive chef’s orders are followed
- Involved in menu planning and development of new dishes
- Guaranteeing that the ingredients used are high quality
- Inventory control and ordering of needed supplies
- Ensuring that the high standards of food safety and sanitation are followed
- Supervising all kitchen staff
- Scheduling staff and assigning tasks
- Working with executive chef to keep up with latest restaurant trends
- Monitoring the training of staff
- Oversees food production for quality and cost standards
- Hiring and firing of kitchen staff
- Demonstrates proper use of equipment and cooking techniques
- Serving as a liaison between kitchen staff and customers
- Helping expedite orders
- Jumping in to work as an auxiliary cook when needed
- Showing complete loyalty to executive chef
- Performing any function necessary for the success of the kitchen
Sous Chef Salary Expectations
The national median pay for a sous chef is almost $35,500 according to PayScale.com’s January 2013 data. Some make well over $50,000 a year.
Like most careers in the culinary arts, a sous chef’s actual salary may be affected by a number of factors such as years of experience, the cost of living, competition, success of restaurant and the type of employer.
According to the 2012-13 projections report from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sous chefs (along with chefs and head cooks) will see little growth in their industry. However, there will be opportunities for new positions resulting from natural turnover within the culinary industry.
How to Become a Sous Chef
You will find that most sous chefs have attended formal culinary programs, usually acquiring an associate’s degree in culinary arts. Even with formal training, an aspiring sous chef should expect to enter the industry at-or-near entry-level positions such as a prep cook or kitchen assistant to gain practical experience.
Another route could be the American Culinary Federation (ACF) which does sponsor apprentice programs which includes 2-to-3 years of both classroom and hands-on training. After completion of the ACF program, you would become a Certified Sous Chef (CSC).Bill Beaman