What is a Sous Chef?
In a kitchen’s chain of command, a sous chef is the culinary chef located just below the executive or head chef. The sous chef reports directly to the executive chef. They must be familiar with the kitchen’s operations so that they can fill in for the executive chef when needed. As second-in-command, the sous chef is an important part of any commercial kitchen.
Responsibilities will vary based on the size, scope and organizational structure of the establishment. In general, sous chefs assist to create and deliver daily menus and dishes, train apprentice chefs and other kitchen staffers, conduct inventory and food cost control, ensure sanitation and hygiene, maintain equipment, and organize food tastings. They also spend a good portion of their time performing administrative duties.
Sous chefs are employed by restaurants and hotels, as well as cruise ships and casinos. Kitchens keep long daily hours of operation, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner; because of the number of hours to account for, sous chefs typically work opposite their chefs to provide management coverage during their off-time.
An associate’s degree from a culinary school will prepare you for kitchen work that leads to management positions. A bachelor’s degree covers the principles and practices required for hospitality management work. For either route, on-the-job experience is essential to climb the ladder. The best thing to do is acquire solid fundamental culinary schooling, and then log some quality hours in the kitchen.