A Sous-Chef is the culinary chef located just below the Executive or Head Chef in a kitchen’s chain of command; therefore, a Sous-Chef has a vital role in any commercial kitchen. The name “Sous-Chef” comes from French and the exact translation is “under the chef”. Therefore, the person occupying this position is directly subordinated to the Executive Chef and has in their charge all the other members of the kitchen staff.
As second-in-command, a Sous-Chef has a large amount of responsibility in the kitchen. A person in this particular role can easily position themselves to becoming the executive of a kitchen or even the head of an entire establishment in time. They are employed in restaurants, hotels, hospitals, and other healthcare institutions, central food commissaries, clubs and similar establishments, and on ships.
Some Chefs may specialize in a certain type of cuisine (e.g. Asian, Ethnic, Mediterranean, and American) or they might prefer a certain type of specialty (e.g. pastry, meat, poultry, fish, and pasta). However, versatility is certainly an asset in the culinary world.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Sous-Chefs are required to complete.
- Ensuring that all food production workers are performing their duties as prescribed by the quality standards established by the Executive Chef:
- Supervising the activities of Specialist Chefs, Chefs, Cooks, and other kitchen workers;
- planning and directing food preparation in the kitchen;
- delegating different tasks to other staff members;
- ensuring that the kitchen operates in a timely manner;
- maintaining order and discipline in the kitchen;
- keeping an eye out for problems that arise in the kitchen and assisting the Executive Chef in resolving them;
- presenting the bill to customers and accepting their payment, or referring them to the cashier; and
- disciplining underperforming staff members;
- providing incentives for staff members that go beyond their established responsibilities;
- establishing working schedules;
- assessing the staff’s performance and providing the necessary feedback; and
- mentoring Junior Chefs and training auxiliary kitchen staff.
- Overseeing all the activities in the kitchen and taking over when the Executive Chef is absent:
- Estimating daily production needs on a weekly basis and communicating them to kitchen personnel daily;
- ordering supplies to stock inventory appropriately;
- following and supervising proper handling and right temperature of all food products; and
- checking the quality of raw and cooked food products to ensure that standards are met.
- Working with the Executive Chef to produce diversified menus in accordance with the establishment’s policy and vision:
- Helping in the preparation and design of all food and drinks menus; and
- coming up with new dishes which appeal to the clients, whenever required.
- Creating tasting menus for customers interested in the food services for different events (e.g. weddings, banquets, corporate dinners, and birthday parties).
- Producing high-quality dishes that follow up on the established menu and level up to the establishment and the Executive Chef’s standards, as well as to the customers’ requirements:
- Operating and using various equipment, including pans, pots, cutlery, ovens, grills, slicers, boilers, grinders, and blenders;
- producing high-quality plates both design and taste wise; and
- demonstrating new cooking techniques and use of new equipment to cooking staff.
- Maintaining and enhancing customers’ satisfaction while employing their culinary and managerial skills.
- Maintaining a positive and professional approach with both coworkers and customers.
- Being aware of changing culinary trends, being open to new ideas and applying them in the kitchen.
- Managing administrative operations:
- Reviewing food and beverage purchases.
- Developing a business network of vendors:
- Meeting with sales representatives in order to negotiate prices and order supplies.
- Following all of the establishment’s safety, hygiene, and security policies and procedures at all times:
- Maintaining the hygiene of the kitchen according to the health inspector’s standards;
- monitoring sanitation practices to ensure that employees follow standards and regulations;
- training employees in safety procedures;
- reporting any incidents or injuries to the manager; and
- following all safety and sanitation policies when handling food and beverages.
- Supervising kitchen staff and operations.
- Ensuring quality standards are met.
- Training kitchen staff members.
- Building a network of vendors.
- Taking care of food inventory, making respective orders, and inspecting the kitchen equipment in use.
- Applying industry appropriate safety and hygiene standards in the kitchen.
The average salary for Sous-Chef related jobs is $36,195 per year or $19 per hour. This is around 1.1 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $25,000 while most experienced workers make up to $51,000. These results are based on 336 salaries extracted from job descriptions.