Career Development

What Does a Sous Chef Do?

Find out what a sous chef does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a sous chef.

A sous chef is a junior-level position in the kitchen hierarchy. They typically report to the head chef and are responsible for managing a team of cooks, overseeing daily operations, and preparing food for service.

Sous chefs may also be tasked with creating menus, ordering supplies, developing recipes, and maintaining inventory lists. In many cases, they’re expected to take on additional responsibilities as they gain experience and prove themselves capable of handling more challenging tasks.

Sous Chef Job Duties

A sous chef typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Preparing food orders for service, including portioning ingredients or pre-preparing components such as sauces or garnishes
  • Training new hires on proper sanitation procedures, culinary techniques, and other aspects of restaurant work
  • Maintaining inventory of food items, supplies, and equipment used in the kitchen
  • Communicating with other departments to coordinate meal preparation and presentation of food items
  • Coordinating with other kitchen staff members including line cooks and dishwashers to ensure efficient workflow
  • Ensuring that all food items are stored properly and are safe to eat by following expiration dates on packages and using proper refrigeration methods
  • Performing basic cooking tasks such as chopping vegetables, grilling meats, and preparing sauces
  • Supervising the work of other kitchen staff members such as cooks, waiters, and dishwashers
  • Preparing special meals or ordering food for VIP guests or special occasions

Sous Chef Salary & Outlook

Sous chefs’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of restaurant they work in. They may also receive benefits, such as health insurance, 401k contributions, and paid vacation days.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of sous chefs is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for high-quality food in restaurants and hotels will continue to drive demand for sous chefs. As restaurants and hotels seek to differentiate themselves by offering high-quality food, they will need sous chefs to oversee the kitchen staff and ensure that food quality remains high.

Related: In-Depth Sous Chef Salary Guide

Sous Chef Job Requirements

A sous chef typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: A sous chef needs to have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed a culinary arts program or culinary degree. These programs typically take two years to complete and include courses in culinary arts, food preparation, baking and nutrition.

Training & Experience: Sous chefs typically receive on-the-job training from their current or previous employers. This training can last for a few months or a year, depending on the establishment’s requirements. During this training period, sous chefs learn about the establishment’s menu, procedures and standards. They also work closely with other kitchen staff, such as line cooks and dishwashers, to learn how to work together to prepare meals.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not usually a requirement for the role of sous chef, they can show an employer that you are a trustworthy and competent professional.

Sous Chef Skills

Sous chefs need the following skills in order to be successful:

Leadership: A sous chef is a leader in the kitchen, and they often have a team of cooks and other kitchen staff working under them. This means they need to be able to direct and motivate their team to complete tasks and maintain a high level of quality in the food they prepare. They also need to be able to delegate tasks and responsibilities to their team members.

Communication: Sous chefs must be able to communicate with their team and other kitchen staff. They must be able to clearly relay information to their team and explain any changes in the menu or other kitchen procedures. Sous chefs should also be able to communicate with the executive chef and other kitchen staff to ensure that the kitchen is running smoothly.

Organization: Sous chefs are responsible for managing the kitchen and ensuring that all food is prepared in a timely manner. This means that they need to be organized and able to prioritize tasks. Sous chefs should be able to organize their time and the kitchen space to ensure that all food is prepared in a timely manner and that all food is stored properly.

Time management: Sous chefs often have many responsibilities, so time management is an important skill for them to have. They often have to manage the time they spend on each task, so they can complete all of their duties in a timely manner. They may also have to manage the time their team spends on each task, so they can complete their duties on time.

Multitasking: Sous chefs often have many responsibilities, so it’s important for them to be able to multitask. They may be preparing several dishes at once, so they need to be able to switch between tasks quickly and efficiently. They may also be responsible for managing the kitchen staff, so they need to be able to delegate tasks and check in with their team while still completing their own duties.

Sous Chef Work Environment

Sous chefs typically work in commercial kitchens that are hot, noisy, and fast-paced. They often work long hours, including evenings and weekends, and may be required to work overtime on short notice. Sous chefs typically work under the supervision of a head chef or executive chef and are responsible for supervising the kitchen staff, preparing food, and ensuring that the food meets the highest standards of quality and presentation. Sous chefs must be able to work well under pressure and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. They must also be able to maintain their composure in a fast-paced and often chaotic environment.

Sous Chef Trends

Here are three trends influencing how sous chefs work. Sous chefs will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Rise of the Celebrity Chef

The rise of the celebrity chef has been a recent trend in the culinary world, as more and more chefs are becoming famous for their unique dishes and cooking styles. This trend is likely to continue, as more and more people want to eat food that is prepared by someone they know and trust.

As a result, sous chefs will need to be able to work with and learn from these celebrity chefs in order to stay ahead of the competition. They will also need to be able to create dishes that reflect the chef’s style and vision.

A Focus on Local Ingredients

Local ingredients are becoming increasingly popular among chefs, as they allow them to showcase the unique flavors of their region. This trend is likely to continue as more and more diners become interested in where their food comes from.

Sous chefs can capitalize on this trend by developing relationships with local farmers and suppliers. This will allow them to source the freshest ingredients possible and create menus that are truly unique.

More Attention Paid to Vegetarian and Vegan Options

As more and more people become vegetarian or vegan, restaurants are beginning to pay more attention to providing options for these customers. Sous chefs can take advantage of this trend by learning how to prepare delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes.

In addition, sous chefs can help to promote these options by talking to customers about them and making sure that they are listed on the menu.

How to Become a Sous Chef

A sous chef career can be a great way to start your culinary career. As a sous chef, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from more experienced chefs and develop your skills in a variety of areas. You may also be able to move up the ladder and become a head chef or even own your own restaurant someday.

To become a sous chef, you’ll need to have at least 2-3 years of experience working in a kitchen. You should also have a strong understanding of cooking techniques and be able to work well under pressure. Additionally, it’s important to have good communication skills so that you can effectively communicate with both your team and your customers.

Related: How to Write a Sous Chef Resume

Advancement Prospects

Sous chefs typically start out as line cooks or prep cooks. With experience, they move up to positions such as lead cook or senior cook. The next step up is sous chef. After that, the next rung on the ladder is executive chef. Some sous chefs eventually open their own restaurants.

The best way to advance in this career is to get a job in a large restaurant with a good reputation. There, you will have the opportunity to work with experienced chefs and learn from them. You should also take advantage of opportunities to attend cooking classes and seminars. In addition, keeping up with the latest trends in the culinary world will make you more marketable and help you advance in your career.

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