Sous chef is one of the most sought-after careers in the culinary industry.
The sous chef is basically the second-in-command of the head chef, and it’s an extremely important role in the kitchen.
They are responsible for stock, safety, and sanitation in the kitchen.
Also, they handle the entire kitchen when the head chef isn’t there.
This is a very lucrative career since a sous chef has a high chance of becoming a head chef and receives great compensation.
Article Table of Contents
What Does a Sous Chef Do
Essential parts of the sous chef job are customizing menus, training employees, and keeping the kitchen in order.
The job of a sous chef can differ based on the workplace, for instance, the duties vary at a hotel or a restaurant, but the responsibilities are pretty much the same.
In different places, the responsibilities vary due to different policies of the places.
However, the general responsibilities and specifications of the sous chef job remain the same.
- Maintaining the kitchen when the head chef isn’t around.
- Helping the head chef create dishes and customize menus.
- Ensuring that the dishes correspond with a certain standard.
- Finding and training other promising employees.
- Training the kitchen staff to speed up the process and achieve the best quality of food.
- Ensuring the food safety standards and hygiene are up to date.
- Ensuring that the kitchen is stocked at all times.
Sous chefs assign tasks to other kitchen staff.
They should be able to make the best decisions and delegate tasks to the right people.
Sous chefs need perfect hand-eye coordination to be able to cook.
They should also have the perfect smell and taste.
Sous chefs need a certain level of creativity to arrange and present food.
Sous chefs should be able to work under stress and pressure.
They should be able to manage their responsibilities and time efficiently to serve food on time.
How to Become a Sous Chef
Experience is the key requirement for the sous chef professional, whether it is a junior sous chef or and exclusive one.
There are no educational requirements.
However, some employers may ask for some specific courses if you are looking into a superior position.
Education isn’t necessary.
Many sous chefs started their careers as dishwashers or assistants in the kitchen.
Therefore, the salary of a sous chef can greatly vary depending on the courses they have or haven’t taken.
Training and Qualifications
Multiple restaurants offer their sous chefs various training courses to improve at their new job.
But having previous formal qualifications plays a major role in getting a job as well.
Some of these include 2 to 4-year degrees at community colleges or trade schools, apprenticeships at culinary schools or a certification in Professional Cookery, FETAC.
Exclusive or senior sous chef positions require more qualifications.
Sure enough, the requirements for higher ranking positions are higher as well.
So if you wish to become a senior sous chef, you need a minimum of three years of experience as a sous chef at a high-quality restaurant or hotel.
Most employers also require HACCP experience as well as training for higher positions.
When you start a job as a new sous chef, you need a great deal of experience.
With more experience, your chances of getting promoted are higher.
If you are aspiring for the sous chef position, you should have at least 10 years of experience in the kitchen.
These jobs are highly demanding, so to be considered for one, you need even more experience.
Usually, hotels and restaurants that hire sous chefs are open non-stop.
It means that they work in shifts and overtime which means that the kitchen staff works long hours and under more stress than other people.
Sous chefs usually have to work on weekends and holidays and take both day and night shifts.
They rarely maintain their personal time, as they have to fulfill all of their tasks and not oppose much if they want to get a promotion or keep their jobs.
Even junior sous chefs that are hired to assist senior sous chefs have tremendous responsibilities.
Those who are aspiring for the culinary industry may see the sous chef as a temporary dream job.
There is a great deal of respect in this position.
Also, there are high chances of getting promotions and other opportunities.
There are two ways of promoting a sous chef can take, becoming a head chef or an exclusive chef.
One can obtain those positions only after several years of experience as a sous chef, or if the previous holder gets fired or quits.
The median salary for a sous chef is $41,745 per year.
The employment rate for the position is expected to grow by 5% by 2020.
However, the prospects to start this career right now don’t look too good.
On the other hand, if you already have experience in an important kitchen, statistically, you have good chances to get a promotion.
Many people would like to acquire the position of a sous chef, whether they are moving from high positions at different restaurants, or starting from a low-level assistant position.
As soon as they get the position of a sous chef, it’s only a matter of time and skills until they can become a head chef or exclusive chef.