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Everything You Should Know About Becoming a Sous Chef

20/10/2023

Just one of the many positions that exist within a professional kitchen, a sous chef is a key person who contributes to culinary success. From overseeing some of the other employees in a kitchen to working directly under the head chef, this is an important position that can take many years of experience to secure.

If you have a passion for all things culinary and would like to know more about what a sous chef is and how you go about becoming one, read on.

What is a Sous Chef?

In French, the term sous chef means “under-chief”. This professional position exists just under the head chef. A sous chef will assist with all of the daily operations that exist in a kitchen, from making sure all of the other employees are keeping up with their work to personally preparing the meals that are being ordered. This is a job that comes from years of working in the culinary industry. Many sous chefs also have formal education that has prepared them for their careers.

Role of a Sous Chef

A sous chef must feel comfortable stepping into the role that a head chef often fills. However, a head chef can also be busy with many different aspects of work. The goal is to make sure that the quality of food is exceptional, customers are happy, employees are happy, the kitchen is kept clean and sanitary, etc. There isn’t much that a sous chef shouldn’t be ready to help with.

Sous Chef Responsibilities

There are many responsibilities that a sous chef will take on as part of their job. These duties will vary from one position to the next.

Managerial Role-

While there is still a head chef who will take on management, a sous chef may be left to keep an eye on everyone. This ensures that demand is being met and the kitchen is running smoothly. Delegating different tasks to the employees who are working at each station will increase productivity.

Food Preparation

A sous chef will play an important part in the daily food preparation that takes place. While they may have a specific station that they work at, it’s important that a sous chef can jump into any other role that needs to be filled. Flexibility is extremely important. Food safety must be followed at all times as well.

Menu Selection

It often comes down to the head chef and the sous chef creating the upcoming menus that will be offered. This requires an understanding of the seasonal offerings that exist, customer preferences, etc.

Staffing

Employing the perfect workforce often falls on the shoulders of a sous chef. In addition to interviewing and hiring staff, a sous chef may also be responsible for training employees and creating an ongoing schedule of operations.

What is the Difference Between a Chef and a Sous Chef?

A sous chef is considered to be the second in command within a professional kitchen. A head chef is the only other position that would be higher up. A regular chef would be below the sous chef on the corporate ladder.

In most situations, there will only be one sous chef staffed at a time, just as there would only be one head chef present. Depending on how a kitchen is being run, there may be one or more chefs there.

A sous chef is very involved in how the kitchen is being run at any given moment. They will oversee how food is prepared and plated, ensuring the best quality product possible is being taken out to the patrons.

How to Become a Sous Chef

The most efficient and beneficial process to go through when you want to become a sous chef is to first enroll in a culinary arts program. Depending on the type of program that you choose, you may be able to really tailor your education to becoming a sous chef. Otherwise, touching on many different topics can provide you with valuable knowledge that will translate to sous chef success once you have a career.

Once you have acquired your degree, you’ll typically need to acquire some experience before obtaining a position as a sous chef. This can include working as a chef for several years. In the meantime, you should also practice your skills and stay on top of your craft.

What are the Qualities of an Ideal Sous Chef?

Some key qualities help make an ideal sous chef successful. This includes:

Good Communication Skills

In the role of a sous chef, you’ll be speaking with many different people. This can include employees that are working under you, customers, suppliers, management, etc. You must know how to communicate with these people to keep business running smoothly.

Exceptional Organizational Skills

As we’ve discussed, there’s a lot that goes into working as a sous chef. You must keep everything organized and not let anything be forgotten about.

Culinary Skills

The skills that you’ll learn in culinary school will carry you throughout your career. You’ll want to keep up with those skills, helping others learn as well.

FAQ

Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions about a career as a sous chef.

Is a Sous Chef a Good Position?

A sous chef is an excellent position to work in. It’s a high-level position that takes a bit of experience. You have the opportunity to oversee others, help them develop their skills that will make them better professionals in the culinary industry and you still learn a lot yourself.

How Much Does a Sous Chef Earn On Average?

On average, a sous chef can earn anywhere from 72,000 euros to 94,000 euros each year. This amount will depend on where the sous chef is working, the size of the establishment, the experience they have, the hours they work, etc.

Does a Sous Chef Do Dishes?

While a sous chef’s main responsibility at work is not to do the dishes, they may need to fill in at some point. It is their role to make sure a kitchen is kept clean and sanitary, whether that means they delegate someone to do dishes for them or they are doing it themselves.

Ready to Become a Sous Chef?

If you’re interested in becoming a sous chef, reach out to the admissions team at HRC Culinary Academy. We can answer any questions that you have regarding how to become a sous chef, the different sous chef responsibilities that you should know about, how the application process works, as well as the different programs that would be beneficial for you to enroll in.

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