Sous Chef Job Description
In French, the term ‘sous’ means ‘second’. In a kitchen, the sous chef is the second in command and plays an important and vital role in the kitchen brigade and operations. A sous chef has many different responsibilities, and is often the precursor to becoming an executive chef or owner; therefore it is often viewed as a hallmark of achievement.
Sous chefs are typically employed in commercial restaurants or hotels, but can also work in cruise ships, casinos or other nonstandard venues. Sous chef responsibilities include everything an executive chef does on a daily basis; in fact, the sous chef must be able to stand in for the executive chef when needed and to keep the kitchen running fluidly. The sous chef must thoroughly understand the kitchens roles, equipment and operations and be capable of managing large staff. They should have significant experience as a chef to draw upon to effectively plan and direct food preparation, as well as mentor young chefs.
A sous chef is typically responsible for all staffing, and making sure scheduling is complete and training occurs, as well as being responsible for discipline in the event an employee is not performing correctly. They may institute an incentive program help persuade staff to do their best regularly. Sous chefs are also in charge of scheduling and other administrative tasks that may include inventory, product rotation, menu tasting and education, cleaning schedules and more. A skilled sous chef must be a good leader and remain organized and professional at all times.
Sous chefs are responsible for protecting the customers and establishment by ensuring that the highest levels of hygiene and sanitation are adhered to at all times. Along the same lines, they must also protect staff by making sure that all equipment is working properly and is cleaned and maintained regularly. A sous chef needs to be able to think quickly and respond authoritatively, and to have the respect of the culinary brigade and junior chefs. They need to be able to seize control of a situation immediately and apply a remedy on the fly to avoid any injuries, downtime or inadequate or subpar foods from leaving the kitchen.
There are many culinary schools that have top-notch programs, and many require internships (or externships) as part of the graduation requirement. They offer a wide variety of programs, from basic certificate programs through a bachelors and advanced degrees. It’s important to make sure your school is accredited. The cost of culinary school varies greatly, ranging from under $1,000 for some certificate programs to upwards of $50,000 per year for some of the well-know, international schools. Your goals, finances and location are the biggest factors in choosing a culinary program. Smaller cities offer lower costs and lower student-teacher ratio, but often have older equipment, smaller kitchens and fewer post-graduation options. Larger cities will have greater post-education placement opportunities and a wider variety of options of different types of restaurants, but may have much higher tuition and living costs.
Sous Chef Salary
A sous chef is one of the higher paying jobs in a professional kitchen, but salaries vary greatly depending on what type of business, chef education and experience, as well as the location. Salaries can range from $25,000 – $50,000, plus benefits.
To become a sous chef, you need to be dedicated, creative and determined. You need to be patient in managing challenging staff or customers, and have stellar communication skills with coworkers in various areas.