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Career as a Chef and Head cook

Updated: Jun 7, 2020



Who is a Chef and Head Cook?

Chefs and Head cooks oversee the daily food preparation at restaurants and other places where food is served. They direct kitchen staff and handle any food related concerns.


What they do?

They direct and may participate in the preparation, seasoning and cooking of salads, soups, fish, meats, vegetables, desserts or other foods.

May plan and price menu items, order supplies and keep records and accountants.


On the job, they would:

Monitor Sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations.

Check the quality of raw or cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.

Estimate amounts and costs of required supplies, such as food and ingredients.


Types of Chefs?

Head Chef (or Executive Chef)

The Head Chef (also known as the Executive Chef) is the boss of the kitchen. It takes years of experience. The kitchen is their responsibility and they’ll have the most significant input into the menu.

During a shift, the head Chef will be in the kitchen to oversee everything is running smoothly. They’ll ask the Sous Chef to assist them. The Head Chef will likely not be involved in any cooking; instead, they’ll make sure all the dishes are perfect before going out.


Sous Chef

The Sous Chef is responsible for checking everything is working smoothly in the kitchen. Communication and an eye for detail are important.


Station Chef (or Chef de Partie)

The Station Chef has lots of responsibility on their plate as they’re in charge of one area in the kitchen. They work directly below the Sous Chef within the kitchen hierarchy and they’re responsible for all chefs working in an area. Most Chef de Parties will specialize in one culinary area (for example, a Pastry Chef) and then be responsible for the team.


Expediter

The Expediter checks the meals are perfectly presented and served correctly before they leave the kitchen.

Kitchen Manager

Kitchen Managers tend to work behind-the-scenes. They check all ingredients are stocked and equipment is working. The managers do more paperwork as it’s the Head Chefs job to oversee the employees in the kitchen.

The Kitchen Manger works with the Head Chef and the owner of the restaurant to keep the kitchen and the restaurant running efficiently.


Commis Chef

This is normally an entry-level position when starting your career as a chef. The Commis Chef works alongside the other kitchen staff .Usually, they’ll assists the Chef de Partie with food preparation. This job allows you to see how a kitchen works first-hand and to work beside an experienced cook.


Pastry Chef

They’re skilled in making desserts, pastries, bread and other types of baked goods. Pastry Chefs are valuable in the kitchen.


Saucier

Sauces are important when it comes to high- quality dining and the Saucier is responsible for making sure the sauces are always right. It’s a good first step up ladder of the kitchen hierarchy with someone taking on more responsibility to show they’re trustworthy.


Fish Cook (or Poissonier)

The Poissonier specializes in everything related to fish. If a restaurant has a large section of fish dishes on the menu, the Fish Cook will be in charge of preparing and cooking fish, Shellfish and their accompanying sauces.


Vegetable Cook (or Entremetier)

The Vegetable Cook prepares all the vegetable dishes but they’ll also be assigned to prepare soups and egg dishes too.


Meat Cook (or Rotisseur)

The Rotisseur works mainly with meats and are responsible for preparing the meats and cooking them.


Pantry Chef (or Chef Garde Manager)

The Chef Garde Manager is responsible for all refrigerated ingredients and dishes. In large restaurants, their huge fridges need to have a chef in charge to check all food is fresh and monitor stock levels.


What is the work environment like for a Chef?

Chefs and Head cooks work in restaurants, private households and other establishments where food is served. They often work early mornings, late evenings, weekends and holidays. The work can be hectic and fast-paced. Most Chefs and Head cooks work full time.

Knowledge Areas That Need to be acquired?

Manufactured or Agricultural Goods

● Food production

● Manufacture and distribution of products.

Business:

● Customer service

● Management

Education and Training:

● Teaching and course design

Math and Science:

● Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus or statistics.


Skills

Basic Skills

● Keeping track of how well people are doing in order to make improvements.

● Talking to others.

Social

● Changing what is done based on other people’s actions.

● Understanding people’s reaction.

Resource Management

● Managing your time and the time of other people.

● Selecting and managing the best workers for a job.


Technology Skills

Data base user interface and query software

● Barrington Software CookenPro Commercial

● CostGuard

Analytical or scientific software

● GNMOE Gnutrition

● IPRO Restaurant Inventory ,Recipe and Menu Software

Spreadsheet Software

● Google spreadsheet

● Microsoft Excel


Abilities

Verbal

● Communication by speaking

● Listen and understand what people say

Ideas and Logic

● Notice when problems happen

● Use rules to solve problems

Math

● Add, subtract, multiply or divide

● Choose the right type of math to solve a problem

Hand and Finger Use

● Hold or move items with your hands


Detailed Work Activities

● Set up the kitchen with cooking utensils and equipment like knives, pans and kitchen scales.

● Study each recipe and gather all necessary ingredients

● Cook food in a timely manner

● Delegate tasks to kitchen staff

● Ensure appealing plate presentation

● Supervise cooks and assist as needed


Personality

People interested in this work like activities that include leading, making decisions and business.

They do well at jobs that need:

● Dependability

● Attention to detail

● Adaptability/Flexibility

● Stress Tolerance

● Integrity

● Initiative


Work Values

● Passion

● Harmony

● Humility

● Imagination

● Caring

● Courage

● Ownership


Education

Associates degree or certificate after high school usually needed. Most chefs and head cooks learn skills through work experience. Others receive training at a community college, technical school, culinary arts school or a 4-year college. A small number learn through apprenticeship programs or in the armed forces.


Job Outlook

New job opportunities are very likely in the future.

The average salary for a Head Chef is ₹ 24,326 per month in India.


Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of salary can I expect?

A fresher can earn about 2.5 lakhs per annum in any three- star hotel.

With skills and experience one can earn up to 6 lakhs per annum.


I heard it’s a low paying job, tell me about this?

You will have to start on a low salary as commis .The money goes up once experience has been gained. A good tip here is to work somewhere with a staff house that offers cheap accommodation.


How can I start my business as an experienced chef?

Many chefs start by setting up pop-up restaurants, a part-time street food operation or a home cake business. Once they have a viable business, they will expand it on full-time.


What doors open up after a few years of experience?

Once you have a few years of experience and become a strong chef de partie other routes start to open up. Possible routes such as: Ski seasons, national agency work, promotion to sous chef, running a small kitchen team and starting your own business all open up.


Do I really need to be passionate about food?

As long as you have an interest with food and learning to cook then this is a good start.


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