The term sous chef has been mentioned a lot of times in cooking shows, restaurants and other culinary-related discussions. What exactly does this mean? What type of work does a sous chef do? In a nutshell, a sous chef is a person who is next to the head chef. The only one who is more superior to the sous chef is the head chef or executive chef.
In relation to kitchen hierarchy, a sous chef would also take orders from the executive chef. Hence, when it comes to preparing meals, decorating dishes, designating work and all other tasks in the kitchen, the command of the chief chef is executed. Technically, a sous chef should ensure that everything that the chief chef says would be implemented.
It has to be noted though that a sous chef also has some level of control when it comes to the things that are happening inside the kitchen. In the absence of the executive chef, the sous chef assumes the position as the overseer of everything. Other employees and chef assistants have to respect the sous chef as their superior.
Being a sous chef is often seen as a stepping stone to eventually becoming the chief. For employers who are in search of a successor to the current chief due to future retirement or resignation, they pick a sous chef who has the potential to manage the kitchen soon.
Being a sous chef is a good training for a higher position. Usually, the training takes a few years until the promotion is given. On the other hand, exemplary performance might significantly shorten the training period.
List of Tasks for the Sous Chef
- Be familiar with the type of cuisine or dishes that are prepared in the kitchen—It is imperative for the sous chef to be fully knowledgeable with everything that is done in the kitchen. Whether the expertise of the establishment is Italian cuisine, French cuisine, Fusion cooking, pastries, cakes or others, the sous chef should be a walking cookbook who knows how all these are done.
- Managing cooking staff—Sous chef is considered as supervisor or superior to other chefs. Hence, it is his/her responsibility to ensure that everything is done accordingly. Sous chef may also be given the responsibility to fix schedule and work rotation of other chef assistants.
- Ensuring high standard while keeping low cost—It is also important for the sous chef to check that all ingredients are fresh and made of high quality so that each meal that is prepared will be perfect. At the same time each serving should not go beyond the designated budget.
- Administrative tasks—Aside from the typical tasks in the kitchen there are also administrative tasks which are assigned to the sous chef such as checking work hours of other employees, inventory of available supplies and ordering, checking kitchen sanitation and planning menu.
- Being a good example for everyone—Since the sous chef is considered as the second in command in the kitchen, it is important to be the perfect example for everyone. Sous chef should always be on time, should have the right initiative to do work and should be on top of all the tasks in the kitchen.