Most contemporary kitchens adhere to a strict system of work distribution between chefs of different skills, levels, and expertise, all to ensure smooth sailing management of the kitchen. Thus, while there are chefs who maintain a superior and authoritative power over the rest of the squad of chefs, every chef title still upholds great importance in the kitchen area.
Here is a list of basic kitchen hierarchy:
1. Chef de Cuisine (Executive Chef)
Being the chief overseer of kitchen activities, the Executive chef holds the most dignified job among all the other categories of chefs there is.
Having a position that is analogous to a CEO standard, the executive chef is in charge of ensuring proper management within the kitchen, supervising the activities of different groups of chefs, contacting suppliers, and making the decisions over the menus.
Because of their highly specialized work, reaching the position of a Chef de Cuisine may take years of dedicated work and training in a culinary school, in conjugation with more than decades of experience.
2. Sous Chef
Derived from a French term, the sous chef ideally means a second chef. This identifies the position of a sous chef to be the one coming second in line with the chef de cuisine, whereby their position is significantly higher than other lines of command.
The work of a sous chef is to be more engaged in the normal operation of kitchen activities, something that the Chef de Cuisine is exempted from due to having more demanding tasks.
Furthermore, sous chefs can also be a temporary fill-in for when executive chefs are unable to come to work, which reinforces how truly important their positions are to the managerial force of a professionally maintained kitchen.
3. Chef de Partie (Line Chef or Line Cook)
Line chefs are actually the frontrunners in the main part of the cooking. A professional kitchen would harbor a number of line chefs, who each work in their designated areas of expertise.
Each of the Chef de Partie takes responsibility for one specific role in the kitchen and works specifically to optimize the production of their assigned section of work.
This position can have a certain and specific direction. As an example:
- Butcher chef, who controls the preparation of poultry and other non-vegetarian products;
- A fish chef, whose responsibility lies in the skillful butchering of fishes and preparing sauces for marinating;
- Fry chef, who specializes in making the fried portions of dishes; pantry chef, the one managing the cold dishes that would be served;
- Vegetable chef, who is in charge of preparing items that include vegetables, starches and eggs, and many more.
4. Commis Chef
Acting more in the role of an apprentice, the commis chef has an entry-level position where they are given variable tasks under a line chef. They aren’t as specialized as the Chef de Parties are, being cooks who have just been employed and lack the experience and skill of being assigned a specific section of the kitchen to work with.
This signifies that commis chefs are ideally the ones helping out the more advanced cooks by doing tasks such as cutting vegetables or plating up different dishes. Their work requires incredible rapidity in movement and task management as the kitchen can get a bit hectic at times.
5. Kitchen Assistant
The kitchen assistant typically does not have any culinary background and therefore isn’t employed to work in the specialized departments of cooking. Rather, their work lies in helping around the kitchen with tasks requiring fundamental knowledge about cooking and cleaning.
In reality, they do not engage further in kitchen activities than washing vegetables for salads, peeling potatoes, and such. The lack of requirement of an experienced level skill in this particular job does indicate that the paycheck is pretty low in comparison to other kitchen workers.
This title is pronounced in the same manner as one would enunciate the word ‘scullery’, which denotes a place in the kitchen where the dishwashing and other minor kitchen-related tasks are completed. Similar to its denotation, the person employed as the escuelerie is in charge of cleaning up all the dirty dishes and cutlery for the restaurant to use later.
Their work is also equally as minor as the work of a kitchen assistant, but it still is a vital position in managing all kitchen business and ensuring a perfectly organized method of serving food to restaurant comers.
The work in a professionally managed restaurant can be incredibly frantic and taxing. Because fine diners pay to get the most luxurious experience out of a restaurant, it is vital for the management force in the kitchen to ensure they give their complete best in providing for their customers.
The need for various chefs and specialization in task management is one that cannot be looked over. Therefore, the hierarchy which defines the levels of jobs given to kitchen employees isn’t one put to pass judgment over the quality of expertise and experience each person has, but rather to differentiate between departments and sections of work.
The division of positions and distribution of specialized tasks maintains a sense of consistency and reinforces a perfectly organized environment of work. Thus, each and every position among all the chef titles is absolutely critical in ensuring a restaurant is perfectly mobile and provides the best service to its customers.