A sous chef is primarily the second in command in the kitchen that supports the executive chef when they cannot be present. They are the person most often seen in the kitchen and keep the kitchen running efficiently according to the plans of the executive chef.
How to Become a Sous Chef
Many sous chefs have attended culinary school at community colleges, culinary arts schools, technical schools, or four-year colleges. Culinary programs teach students the skills needed to work in a restaurant such as handling utensils safely and adequately, planning menus, food sanitation, and cooking techniques. Many culinary programs have students expand their experience through interning or apprenticing in commercial kitchens.
The American Culinary Federation and the US Department of Labor also have apprenticeship programs. These programs typically offer a combination of instruction with paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeships help build the practical skills you’ll need in a commercial kitchen and you gain experience under the supervision of a chef. Many sous chefs begin their careers as dishwashers, servers, or line cooks, learning their skills and working their way up. Sous chefs widely agree that it is helpful to train under an executive chef and to work in as many professional kitchens as possible. Some states require chefs to have a food handler certification, while additional certifications can lead to advancement.
Various skills are essential in this occupation, such as communication. Clear instructions must be communicated and understood to ensure customers receive the food they expect in a timely and attractive way. A sous chef also must possess leadership skills in order to motivate kitchen staff and assure all involved cooperate. High school students interested in this occupation should study home economics, business, and food science where available.
Sous Chef Job Description
A sous chef has many daily tasks in the kitchen, depending on how large and fast-paced the restaurant is. Since the sous chef is the number two person in the kitchen next to the executive chef, they carry a lot of responsibility. Working in a professional kitchen is often hectic, and the sous chef is responsible for ensuring its efficiency. The sous chef must carry out the daily plan of the executive chef by overseeing food preparation and directing kitchen staff and junior chefs if there is more than one. They check for food freshness and inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas for sanitation and functionality.
A sous chef must follow the menu of the executive chef and present the food according to that vision. They are leaders and motivators for other junior chefs and kitchen staff, keeping the kitchen running cooperatively and efficiently. The sous chef is available to discuss any issues with staff to help free up the executive chef’s time and refer any unresolved problems to them. It takes many years of training, experience, and patience to become a sous chef. They work long hours from early morning to late evenings, weekends, and holidays. However, if you enjoy working in the restaurant business and aspire to become a chef, this is the job for you! We wish you every success!