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Identifying Cooking Jobs in Restaurants

Part of the Culinary Careers For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Restaurants are key places for people interested in making their marks in the culinary field. Following are some of the main cooking professions that are found in restaurants:

  • Executive chef: The executive chef is the kitchen’s head honcho. The job responsibilities include planning menus, ordering and purchasing supplies from vendors, hiring and training new staff, and assigning tasks to the kitchen staff. Executive chefs have significant restaurant experience and often formal schooling as well.

  • Sous chef: The sous chef is the second-in-command in a kitchen. A sous chef assists the executive chef, oversees the kitchen staff, makes purchases for the kitchen, creates feature dishes, and assists in cooking. A sous chef also has many years of restaurant experience and often formal schooling.

  • Specialty chefs: In a large kitchen, each cooking station may have its own chef, or supervisor. Specialty chefs include the fish chef, fry chef, grill chef, pasta chef, pizza chef, pantry chef, sauté chef, and vegetable chef. Specialty chefs usually have restaurant experience and training related to their specialty.

  • Pastry chef: The pastry chef is a type of specialty chef who may work in a restaurant or in an establishment that sells desserts to restaurants. Pastry chefs have schooling related to their specialty and usually have restaurant experience as well.

  • Line cooks: Most restaurants have at least a few line cooks. A line cook may work a particular station under a specialty chef or may work wherever needed at the moment. A line cook is an entry-level position. Line cooks sometimes work their way up the culinary ladder to other positions even if they don’t have formal schooling.

  • Prep cooks: Prep cooks prepare the food that line cooks make. They often come in earlier and make broths and soups and chop vegetables. This position is entry-level, and, similarly to line cooks, prep cooks may work their way up to other positions.

  • Roundsman: A roundsman is also called a swing cook. This person is trained to work at any station in the kitchen and goes wherever needed. A roundsman has many years of experience working every station in the kitchen.

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