Have you ever heard the term Sous Chef? Or wondered what a sous chef does and how is it different from other Chefs? What is a Sous Chef? The French word for “under” is the root of this intriguing title. As the second in charge in the traditional hierarchical kitchen system known as the “brigade,” this culinary specialist works closely with the Executive Chef. While the brigade system’s exact application varies on the nature and size of the kitchen, in most circumstances, a sous chef will be present, as an integral element of the management team, in most kitchens.
A sous chef, for some people, is the peak of their careers. When a kitchen runs smoothly, it’s a joy to be a part of it. You can always count on this person to keep track of everything in the kitchen and guarantee that the food served is always fresh and of good quality. These people aren’t interested in the celebrity aspect of becoming an executive chef. People who appreciate the social cachet and management of their menus, as well as having complete control over their kitchen, may find this role to be a step toward becoming an executive chef.
What is a Sous Chef?
When it comes to the kitchen, a sous chef oversees ensuring everything is running well. An “under chef,” as translated in French, is a vital member of a restaurant’s kitchen team who ensures everything goes smoothly even when the head chef is away. Depending on the restaurant and its command structure, the responsibilities of this position might be pretty diverse. A sous chef’s job can be exceedingly taxing, especially since it lacks the acclaim of becoming a head or executive chef in the culinary world.
Like any other blue-collar job, a formal education and training program is typically required for those aspiring to the sous chef position. Culinary schools are an option for some aspirants, while others choose to gain experience by working their way up the food chain. People who have worked their way through the ranks in a fast-paced kitchen may be preferred by some restaurants since they are more familiar with all the chores that must be performed.
What are the Responsibilities of a Sous Chef?
For that matter, being a chef or a sous chef can be rewarding in several ways. If you are thinking of becoming one, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the duties of a sous chef before applying for the position. In this way, you can make an informed decision about your professional future and choose whether becoming a sous chef is the best job. Here, we’ll talk about what it takes to become a chef’s sous chef, the necessary prerequisites, what abilities you can develop, and how to get started on the path to becoming one.
The duties of a sous chef are not limited to chopping and prepping ingredients, preparing and cooking meals, and learning about various cuisines, such as French, Italian, and fusion. Their duties include taking on managerial tasks to help their superior, such as menu planning, inventory tracking, stock ordering, and leading other employees. They typically follow the executive chef as the second-in-command in a professional kitchen. They may also know about kitchen safety and health regulations and can instruct and monitor kitchen employees. Here is a summary of the general task of a sous chef:
1. Assist the Head Chef
As a sous chef, you are expected to help the head chef in their duties. They must be familiar with the head chef’s culinary approach so they can step in quickly in an emergency. In addition, the sous-chef assists the chef in the meal preparation and ensures that the kitchen is well stocked with all the ingredients needed for each dish. They are also responsible for maintaining an adequately equipped and staffed kitchen. The sous chef is in control when it comes to ensuring that the head chef has everything they need in the kitchen.
2. Recruit and train Kitchen Staff
The sous chef is also responsible for hiring and training the kitchen’s employees. They will supervise the cooks and teach them how to prepare, cook, and plate meals. They are responsible for ensuring that each dish is up to the standards of the head chef before it is served. The sous chef’s primary responsibility is to serve as a point of contact between the rest of the kitchen staff and the head chef. The sous chef’s job is to supervise the other chefs and ensure they are all doing their jobs properly.
3. Organize and stock the kitchen with necessary ingredients and equipment
In addition, the sous chef oversees keeping the kitchen well-ordered and well-stocked. The sous chef oversees ensuring that the food is on hand once the menus have been finalized. They will work with the restaurant manager to order kitchen supplies and food and maintain everything neatly arranged and in order.
4. When the Head Chef isn’t around, the Sous Chef Takes Over
In the absence of the head chef, the sous chef will take over as the head of the kitchen. If the head chef is absent, the sous chef will be held accountable for ensuring the food is cooked correctly and served. As head chef aspirants, they need to be aware of the chef’s duties and responsibilities and act like one without a real head chef. Customers should not detect that the kitchen is being handled without the presence of the chief chef.
5. Planning the Menu and Maintaining Food Standards
Menu planning plays a significant role for Sous Chefs. Executive or head chefs are often tasked with coming up with new menu items or revising current ones to make them more in line with the overall concept of the restaurant. To satisfy budgetary limits while generating a delicious dish, Sous Chefs must know what culinary products would work best. This may necessitate some ingenuity and inventiveness. They will also need to know the Executive Chef’s budget to prepare their meal. In other words, sous chefs are in charge of keeping food standards while maintaining a reasonable food and labor cost.
What does it Take to be Sous Chef?
A sous chef needs excellent cooking skills. They must be able to work under pressure when unexpected things happen in the kitchen, such as when a cook is AWOL or when meal service surges. The sous chef must be quick-witted, versatile, and calm. They regularly make last-minute alterations when supplies or people do not come on the expected time or date. They served as a human connection between the chef and the kitchen team. A sous chef is essential in any kitchen.
The sous chef must exude confidence and authority to handle personnel in a loud, stressful setting. Keeping the team focused is complex and involves clear communication, motivation, and guidance while performing kitchen duties. As a sous chef, you may work 12 hours a day without any appreciation; however, for many, the effort is worth it. Earning your head chef’s trust, your employees’ respect, and being part of a successful restaurant brings fulfillment. The sous chef can gain critical recognition when the executive chef or restaurant does, and they can ascend to brigade leader if the executive chef leaves.
Being a sous chef is one of the most demanding kitchen jobs one can ever dream of having. It takes more than just a Certification in Commercial cooking and a minimum experience of years. You should have the passion and the skills needed to perform the tasks of an excellent sous’ chef. A good leadership communication skill is a must-have, as well as the ability to stay focused on the job.