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Whether you know them as head chefs or executive chefs, the chef de Cuisine is the leader of the brigade. He or she is the individual that everyone in the kitchen takes instructions from and answers to. Responsible for everything from the menu to management, this chef is the captain of the proverbial ship.
Duties of the Chef de Cuisine
Translated, the French title means “head of the kitchen”. As the most senior staff member, the chef de cuisine oversees all aspects of the workplace and keeps staff on their toes. If all goes well, compliments go the chef. If anything goes wrong, this leader bears all responsibility.
Almost every restaurant menu is the brainchild of the executive chef. He or she decides on the types of dishes that customers will choose from. The chef de cuisine is free to create meals as they see fit, provided the items keep with a restaurant’s theme and brand.
Menus need to be planned in advance. The head chef can ask for suggestions from the establishment owner and other staff members but most recipes should already be prepared. It takes time to find the right blend of flavors and to come up with unique dishes.
The chef de cuisine has the challenging task of leading and managing all kitchen staff. Ideally, chefs should know how to do everyone’s job in order to offer guidance and direction. In addition to training and instructing apprentices, chefs must supervise different stations to ensure that orders are executed perfectly.
The executive chef should also stay on top of the kitchen’s cleaning staff. Food safety and sanitation violations are serious offences with potentially dangerous consequences. As the leader of the pack, you must check food items regularly, update the inventory, make sure equipment is cleaned, workstations are spotless and floors are dry.
A large portion of a food establishment’s budget is allocated to purchasing supplies. To keep costs low, the chef de cuisine needs to assess the use of ingredients and moderate serving sizes. There should also be a good waste management plan to dispose of leftovers.
Chef de Cuisine Training Requirements
The minimal level of education a head chef can obtain is a culinary arts degree or certificate. Chefs also need to be certified by the American Culinary Federation. 3 years of work experience is the requirement for certification.
After qualifying as a professional chef, the aspiring chef de cuisine needs to work for at least 7 years as a sous or supervising chef. This is to ensure that he or she is able to manage a team. If you are wondering what the difference is between an executive chef and chef de cuisine, this forum is a good resource.
Qualities of a Good Chef de Cuisine
While leadership is an important trait in a head chef, it would be challenging to supervise others without the relevant expertise. A willingness to learn more is therefore a more vital quality. The more you know about the trade, the easier it will be to teach and lead others.
Chef de Cuisine Salary and Job Opportunities
Thanks to televised cooking competitions and the growing popularity of upmarket restaurants, the job market holds many possibilities for aspiring chefs. The median salary estimate is $42 000. However, chefs who venture into restaurant ownership and product creation earn six-figure salaries.