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STEP 1: Research the Field

STEP 1: Research the Field

Chef's Blade

There are many different kinds of chefs. Once you discover what kind of chef you would like to be, you will be able to improve your skills and focus on that specific area of the culinary arts that most suits you.

Luckily for you, Chef’s Blade has put together a list of the most popular culinary positions and specializations.

We’ll start with the most obvious information: Chefs and dinner cooks prepare, season, and cook food. Chefs spend time on their feet, cooking, chopping, and stirring. They need to be able to lift heavy pots and boxes of food.

The responsibilities of chefs and cooks are determined by a number of factors, including the type of restaurant in which they work. A chef’s job description might include the following—

• Create, plan and price menus
• Prepare and cook the food according to customer’s order
• Arrange and garnish the food for serving
• Supervise other kitchen staff
• Maintain cleanliness in the workplace
• Supervise cleaning and dishwashing
• Buy food supplies and cooking equipment
• Keep records of supplies

Get to know the Chef’s Brigade

Chef titles are derived from the French brigade system. Get to know who’s who—

Executive chef

The executive chef is in charge of everything related to the kitchen, including menu creation, personnel management and business aspects. The executive chef can also be referred to as the “head chef” or “chef”.

Chef de cuisine

The chef de cuisine’s placement within the kitchen can vary depending on the individual restaurant’s hierarchy. Generally, it is either equivalent to an executive chef position, a position overseeing numerous establishments in a group of restaurants in charge of several executive chefs or a position equivalent to a sous chef, under the command of an executive sous chef.

Sous chef

The sous chef is the direct assistant of the executive chef. The Sous Chef often shares some duties with the executive chef, such as menu planning, costing and ordering. Larger kitchens often have more than one sous chef, with each covering a certain shift or having his or her own area of responsibility, such as the banquet sous chef, in charge of all banquets, or the executive sous chef, in charge of all other sous chefs.

Chef de partie

A chef de partie, also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. 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 can include:

Sauce chef or saucier: Prepares sauces, stews, and hot hors d’oeuvres, and sautés foods to order. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.

Fish cook or poissonier: Prepares fish dishes (this station may be handled by the saucier in some kitchens).

Vegetable cook or entremetier: Prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.

Roast cook or rotisseur: Prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies, and broils meats and other items to order. A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook or grillardin to handle the broiled items. The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.

The pantry chef or garde manger: Is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, pâtés, cold hors d’oeuvres, and buffet items.

Pastry chef or pâtissier: Prepares pastries and desserts.

The relief cook, swing cook, or tournant: Replaces other station heads.

Cooks and assistants: In larger kitchens, each station chef would have cooks and assistants (or, commis) that help with the particular duties that are assigned to that area. With experience, assistants may be promoted to station cooks and then to station chefs.

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