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What is a Sous Chef, an Executive Chef? More About Choosing A Specialty

Here's step 8 in your multi-part online course about how to become a qualified chef.

Sous Chef

The sous chef is the second in command after the executive chef. The word “sous” comes from French and means "under." That is exactly what you are in the kitchen.

You are just under the executive chef. Actually, a sous chef is probably the most important person in the kitchen. The sous chef has to keep the kitchen running. The executive chef often gets the credit, but it is the sous chef that usually deserves it.

The sous chef must be in charge of the specialty chefs, the chefs, cooks, and other kitchen staff as well.

The sous chef must also be the person who demonstrates the new equipment and cooking techniques to the rest of the kitchen. They order kitchen supplies, plan menus, prepare the food and specialty items as well.

In essence, with apologies to the females in the profession, the sous chef is “the man”!

Executive Chef

An executive is the person that is in charge of the sous chef. He or she is the head of the kitchen and supervises the goings on in the kitchen.

The executive chef plans the menus, ensures that the food quality meets the establishment’s standards, estimates the food requirements, and may be involved in estimating the food and labour costs. The executive chef is also in charge of hiring kitchen staff.

The executive chef also cooks food daily. In this position you can be very hands on, meaning that you are there cooking with the sous chef every day and making sure that all plates are made and garnished to perfection. Or you can make your rounds and focus on other aspects of being a chef.

In the beginning you are required to be hands on. As you have established yourself in the field, you can let the sous chef handle the day to day cooking while you take on other tasks.

To continue to the next section of your chef training, please click this link: What is a Garde Manger - Personal Chef - Gourmet Chef?

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