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Sous Chef Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Sous Chef, or Executive Sous Chef serves as an assistant to the Head or Executive Chef. Their duties include leading the kitchen staff during the Head Chef’s absence, guiding and supervising the junior kitchen staff during food preparation and assisting the Head Chef in menu preparation.

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Sous Chef duties and responsibilities

A Sous Chef has different duties and responsibilities at a restaurant or a hotel. However, their main role is ensuring that Head Chefs have utensils and ingredients they need to cook the restaurants’ dishes. Their main responsibilities include: 

  • Documenting each morning what the Head Chefs require before they prepare the day’s dishes
  • Cleaning and organising the food preparation area for the Head Chef
  • Delivering the ingredients that the Head Chef needs to prepare to the food preparation area
  • Ensuring the Line and Prep Cooks prepare the dishes according to the Head Chef’s specifications and standards
  • Training new kitchen employees on the restaurant’s standards and regulations
  • Addressing and resolving diners’ and clients’ complaints quickly
  • Monitoring the kitchen area and the staff to ensure sanitation standards are maintained
  • Ensuring all food products to be prepared are not expired
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What does a Sous Chef do?

Sous Chefs prepare the ingredients for the Head Chef. They also oversee the kitchen operations so that Head Chefs are left to focus on cooking the dishes, according to a restaurant’s recipes and menu. A Sous Chef resolves conflicts and disciplines kitchen staff so that kitchen and food preparation activities are not disrupted. They also plan and assign duties to kitchen staff every morning and set targets for them to meet by the end of the day to ensure the restaurant runs smoothly. A Sous Chef sometimes invites potential diners or clients to food tastings as a way of marketing a restaurant’s dishes.

Sous Chef skills and qualifications

A successful Sous Chef will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that typically include:

  • In-depth knowledge of the kitchen’s routines and utensils
  • Ability to grasp and follow the Head Chef’s culinary instructions
  • Knowledge of food preparation methods and presentation
  • Knowledge of how to maintain and care for culinary utensils
  • Diplomatic and conflict resolution skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Ability to work under pressure through rapid deadlines

Sous Chef experience requirements

The experience requirements of a Sous Chef can depend on the Head Chef they worked under, the size and a restaurant’s geographical location. Sous Chefs working in large and busy restaurants under several Head Chefs have diverse culinary and leadership skills and managerial abilities. Restaurants prefer hiring Sous Chefs with at least four years of culinary work experience.

Sous Chef education and training requirements

Sous Chefs are required to have a secondary school education and have a culinary or hospitality certificate, a Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery or Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts or a similar degree from accredited institutions. Other Sous Chefs start at lower position in the kitchen like dishwashing and work their way up the ranks as they gain cooking experience at restaurants. These culinary studies can take from four months to about four years to complete. Basic first aid qualifications are often useful to respond to any kitchen accidents.

Sous Chef salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary of a Sous Chef in the UK is £27,125 per year. The salary figures depends on factors such as a Sous Chef’s education, work experience and a restaurant’s geographical location and prestige level.

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Sous Chef job description FAQs

What is the difference between a Sous Chef and an Assistant Cook?

There are a few differences between a Sous Chef and an Assistant Cook. An Assistant Cook assists the Head or Executive Chef while being supervised by a Sous Chef. They also assist Sous Chefs in preparing the basic ingredients that a Head Chef requires. While a Cook may only have culinary skills, a Sous Chef has other skills such as leadership, inventory management and marketing.

What qualities should you look for in a Sous Chef?

Restaurants are high pressure environments with long work hours, so Sous Chefs must be resilient in order to work there. They should also be quick thinking, self driven, and motivated to be able handle the dynamic nature of kitchen activities. Sous Chef must be physically fit so that they can handle the often repetitive and tiring kitchen work.

What should you look for in a Sous Chef CV?

When hiring, look for a candidate with the right culinary qualifications, skills and experience. Review their CV to know the responsibilities they had and how they contributed to previous employers’ success. Look out for the various culinary positions they held to gauge their professionalism. Their CV should also list the soft skills they possess like interpersonal, leadership and communication skills, which are vital for any work environment.

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