Guide to the Dining Room Brigade System
The Culinary Institute of America
The dining room, or front-of-the-house, positions also have an established line of authority.
The maître d’hôtel, known in American service as the dining room manager, is the person who holds the most responsibility for the front-of-the-house operation. The maître d’hôtel trains all service personnel, oversees wine selection, works with the chef to determine the menu, and organizes seating throughout service.
The wine steward (chef de vin or sommelier) is responsible for all aspects of restaurant wine service, including purchasing wines, preparing a wine list, assisting guests in wine selection, and serving wine properly. The wine steward may also be responsible for the service of liquors, beers, and other beverages. If there is no wine steward, these responsibilities are generally assumed by the maître d’hôtel.
The head waiter (chef de salle) is generally in charge of the service for an entire dining room. Very often this position is combined with the position of either captain or maître d’hôtel.
The captain (chef d’étage) deals most directly with the guests once they are seated. The captain explains the menu, answers any questions, and takes the order. The captain generally does any tableside food preparation. If there is no captain, these responsibilities fall to the front waiter.
The front waiter (chef de rang) ensures that the table is properly set for each course, that the food is properly delivered to the table, and that the needs of the guests are promptly and courteously met.
The back waiter or busboy (demi-chef de rang or commis de rang) is generally the first position assigned to new dining room workers. This person clears plates between courses, fills water glasses and bread baskets, and assists the front waiter and/or captain as needed.
Reprinted by permission from The Culinary Institute of America, The Professional Chef, 8th Edition (John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2006).