Having one of the most important jobs in the kitchen, the sous chef is basically the head chef’s second-in-command. One of the most sought-after positions in the culinary industry is the sous chef job. This professional is usually responsible for the kitchen’s safety, stock, and sanitation. It is their job to also handle the entire kitchen when the head chef isn’t around. The high salary, along with the fact that a sous chef has very high chances of becoming head chef themselves, makes for a very lucrative career.
Job Overview: What Does a Sous Chef Professional Do?
Training employees, customizing menus, and keeping order in the kitchen are very important parts of the sous chef job description. While the sous chef job description in hotel, for example, may be different than the sous chef job description in restaurant, both have pretty much the same responsibilities. Of course, all vary from a workplace to another, as they each have their own policies. However, the sous chef job description and specifications usually remain the same.
Sous Chef Duties
- Taking care of the kitchen in the absence of the head chef.
- Helping the head chef come up with new menus and dishes.
- Making sure that the dishes hold up to a certain standard.
- Discovering and training other promising talents.
- Train the kitchen staff to reach the best speed and the best food quality they can.
- Making sure that the hygiene and food safety standards are up to date.
- Making sure that the kitchen is fully stocked at all times.
Sous Chef Essential Skills
Leadership Skills. The sous chef is the one that assigns duties to each member of the staff. They must be able to make the best decision and assign the right people for each role.
Coordination Skills. A sous chef must possess a near-perfect hand-eye coordination for cooking. They also have to have a near-perfect sense of taste and smell.
Creative Skills. This professional must have a flair for the artistic for when having to arrange and present food.
Time Management Skills. The ability to work under huge amounts of stress is very important for this professional. They must also be able to manage their time and responsibilities in order to serve food in time.
Becoming a Sous Chef Professional
The most important requirement in becoming a sous chef, whether a jr sous chef or someone with the executive chef job description, is the experience. There aren’t any sous chef job education requirements, although some restaurants may ask for some courses of someone interested in an upper echelon job opening. Education isn’t mandatory and most started off as kitchen helpers or dishwashers. Therefore the sous chef salary can wildly fluctuate depending on whether or not the candidate has taken a few courses.
Qualifications and Training
A large percentage of restaurants offer their sous chefs a number of training courses to help them get better at their new job. But previous formal qualifications could go a long way in helping one get the job as well. Some of these helpful qualifications are 2 or 4-year degrees at trade schools and community colleges, apprenticeships with culinary schools, or a FETAC certificate in Professional Cookery
Having higher aspirations, like going for the executive or senior sous chef job description, often requires more qualifications. As expected, the higher the rank a candidate is hoping to attain, the higher the requirements for that position become. So, for somebody dreaming of becoming a senior sous chef, at least three years of professional experience in a high-quality hotel or restaurant are absolutely mandatory. Most employers also request HAACP experience and training for the higher, most respected positions.
The most important part when it comes to starting work as a new sous chef is the accumulated experience. The more experience a member of the kitchen staff has, the higher their chances of getting a promotion are.
Somebody aspiring to get the sous chef job description must have at least 10 years working in the kitchen before being qualified for the job. Since these jobs become more encompassing and demanding, even more experience is needed before even being considered for them.
Most good restaurants and hotels that tend to actually employ people with the sous chef job description are open almost non-stop. This means that they employ shifts and overtime systems that end up with the kitchen staff having to work far more stressful and long hours than most people are used to.
Professional sous chefs have to work weekends and holidays, as well as to divide their schedules between day and night shifts. Their personal time is seldom their own, as they must excel at all of their tasks and offer little opposition if they want to keep their jobs or to get a promotion. And if the restaurant were to hire someone with a junior sous chef job description to assist the senior sous chef, the responsibilities are still tremendous.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
For many aspiring for jobs in the culinary industry, becoming a sous chef can be seen as a temporary dream job. This job comes with a great deal of respect. As well as with very high chances of promotion and with many other opportunities. The two big job paths a sous chef can take are to either become a head chef or an executive chef. According to Wikipedia, as well as to other sources in the actual job market, those jobs open up only after a number of years spent in the kitchen as a sous chef, or after the previous holder of the job quits or gets fired.
The annual median salary for a sous chef stands at $41,745 in the US. Also, with the job market for sous chefs estimated to rise 5% by 2020, prospects aren’t looking very good for anyone looking just now to start down this particular career path. However, if one has already been working in an important kitchen for some time, statistics show that they have plenty of chances to get a promotion.
Whether starting from a low-level kitchen helper position, responsible for the pastry line or for preparing a single sample for potential customers, or from a higher position at a different hotel or restaurant, many would like nothing more than to be able to put the sous chef job position on their resumes. Because once they’re there, it’s only a matter of time and skill until they get the chance to apply for an executive or head chef position. For a job from the same field, you can also read about the line cook job.