The kitchen at any modern, professional eatery is run with as much efficiency as a military operation. Chef titles are designated under the French Brigade naming system (also known as the brigade de cuisine). If you aim to work in the culinary industry it’s important to know the hierarchy of titles and the types of chefs.
- The Executive Chef or group chef is a position that exists only in the largest kitchens and establishments. An executive chef will often manage the operations of multiple locations of a franchise, and does almost no actual cooking.
- The Head Chef or chef de cuisine is in charge of the entire kitchen. This position is responsible for creating the menu, coordinating with various suppliers, overseeing the staff, and ensuring the kitchen is running smoothly. Anyone working in the kitchen answers to the head chef during the work day. The actual involvement of the head chef in day-to-day activities will vary largely from kitchen to kitchen.
- The Second Chef or sous chef is, appropriately, second-in-command. The sous chef will be more actively involved in the cooking throughout the day, and will sporadically fill in for a station chef/line cook when needed. The role of the sous chef is determined by the size of the kitchen and the amount of specialized staff on hand.
- The Station Chef, line cook, or chef de partie is in charge of a specific station or area within a kitchen. Sometimes they work solo, while in larger kitchens they will have assistants in their employ. Station chef roles depend on the type of food prepared at a restaurant, and can include pastry chef, butcher chef, fry chef, sauce chef, and vegetable chef.
- The Commis Chef is a chef who works directly underneath a station chef to learn the particulars of their station. These are often students who are in the process of earning their culinary degree or who have recently graduated.
- The Kitchen Porter is an assistant (often with little training) who helps out with tasks like cleaning or washing and prepping food in larger kitchens.
- The Dishwasher or escuelerie is, predictably, the person in charge of cleaning dishes and silverware throughout the day.
Ready to make your way through the hierarchy to become an executive chef? Earn a Culinary Arts degree from Kendall College to graduate fully prepared to thrive in the kitchen, in the office, or wherever your culinary career takes you.