Sous chefs complete many of the same functions as an executive chef. However, they can be considered the next in line to the executive chef. In addition, they are still honing their cooking skills and thus complete some of the same activities as a line cook. Long hours are normal and while in this position, the sous chef should apprentice under the executive chef to acquire necessary experience. This sous chef job description covers a basic description, responsibilities, essential skills, necessary education and experience, working schedule, and job outlook.
After reading this article, you should have a better understanding of what a sous chef does and the differences between a sous chef and executive chef and sous chef and line cook.
What Does a Sous Chef Do?
A sous chef prepares many of the dishes that the executive chef creates. They may have a role in helping the executive chefs with menu planning. The two major differences between a sous chef and executive chef are that the sous chef does not have to engage in management of the kitchen and they do not have primary responsibility for creating the menu. When the executive chef is absent, the sous chef assumes a leadership role in the kitchen. A sous chef differs from a line cook because they have more latitude and get to focus more on developing their own cooking ability than preparing the same recipes repeatedly.
An associate’s degree is required for sous chefs. Some experience is needed prior to securing the role of sous chef. A typical sous chef job description shows they have a salary range of $30,213 to $53,457.
Sous Chef Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities
The responsibilities for a sous chef are very similar to that of an executive chef. Sous chefs will have different levels of responsibility depending on the executive chef they work under. Take the bullet points below that align with your skills and customize them.
- Complete the prep work for the day and make sure all stations are ready to use.
- Prepare meals consistently to the same quality for a uniform dining experience.
- Follow food safety protocols and always check the temperature of foods.
- Partner with the executive chef in planning the menu and create a couple of the menu items.
- Ensure cleanliness and personal hygiene to provide food transmitted illnesses.
- Act as the executive chef in their absence.
- Supervise a small group of restaurant employees as delegated by the executive chef.
Sous Chef Required Skills
- Time management skills. Sous chefs need to manage their time effectively to prepare ingredients for meals and prepare meals. It is essential that they find the most productive workflow to maximize profit and minimize customer wait time.
- Cooking skills. Naturally, a sous chef needs to be an excellent chef. They need to be able to do more than a line cook does. They need to have a sense of how a recipe would taste and what foods go well together.
- Communication skills. The kitchen at a restaurant will get loud and chaotic at busy periods. A sous chef who can speak loudly and concisely improves the work experience for everyone.
- Fine motor skills. One of the most important actions that a sous chef does is to make sure that knife cuts are even. Having an automaticity with various knife cuts will improve their speed, and the meal will be aesthetically pleasing.
How to Become a Sous Chef
There are three major paths to take to qualify for a sous chef job description. These include on-the-job experience and training, formal education programs, and being a chef in the military. Work experience is typically required to become a sous chef, but the experience is less than it would be for an executive chef.
Education & Training Requirements
Education beyond a high school diploma or GPA is not always required, but some positions will call for a sous chef who has their degree or certificate in culinary arts. The programs that offer these degrees are found at community colleges, technical skills, arts schools, or traditional universities. The courses covered include actual cooking skills, management, and logistics, as well as food science.
There are no required certificates or licenses to practice as a sous chef. However, as a food handler, they will receive training and possible certification in SafeServ procedures. The American Culinary Federation does issue a certificate for various levels of expertise. A sous chef who wants their credentials validated as a way to show employers they have a certain combination of knowledge and experience can pursue this training.
Sous chefs need to have some prior work experience. Much of the time, a sous chef starts as a line cook to prove their culinary skills and then advance to the level of sous chef. It is not unusual for a sous chef to spend several years in the kitchen before they advance to the level of sous chef.
Chefs who have formal education and certificates may need less work experience to become a sous chef. However, this is entirely dependent on the sous chef job description. Some jobs may hire a chef with minimal experience but an impressive educational experience while others will only want someone who has previously worked in the field.
The hours of a sous chef are demanding and long. Even if a restaurant does not open until the afternoon, these professionals need to be there ahead of time to do the prep work necessary for the menu. It is not atypical for a chef to work every day of the week for 12 hours at a time.
In addition, the culinary field is one in which hours actually increase for those in higher positions. Whereas line cooks will work in shifts, the executive and sous chefs are essential to the restaurant and will likely be there for the entire shift. In addition, some restaurants are open on the weekends, at night, and during holidays and a chef needs to be present whenever the restaurant is open.
The job outlook for all head chefs, including sous chefs, is 9 percent through the year 2024. As society just gets busier and busier, people rely on restaurants for many of their meals. In addition, a strong economy creates discretionary income for dining out. The median pay for sous chefs ware $41,500 in 2015.
Sous chefs should identify which types of restaurants are experiencing rapid growth. These are restaurants that offer healthy options and a fast casual dining experience. Examples of these restaurants are Panera Bread and Shake Shack. The restaurant industry sees a lot of turnover because of the long hours and intense days. Therefore, job openings are normally abundant. However, there are a lot of qualified sous chefs competing for these positions, particularly at highly rated restaurants within hotels or casinos.
Sous chefs get to be part of the kitchen family. They are the right-hand assistant to the executive chef and could have leadership responsibilities. There is high mobility within the restaurant industry, and chefs who gain a positive reputation will be in-demand and thus merit a higher salary. Overall, this sous chef job description intended to give a glimpse into what it takes to be a sous chef and what it is like once the person is a sous chef. Do you have a passion for cooking and love a fast-paced job? Then a sous chef career could be a great choice. In addition, it could be just a stepping stone to becoming an executive chef yourself.