Some people think that being a sous chef is similar to acting as ‘the teacher’s pet’, and there’s nothing further from reality than this nonsense outburst. Culinary students know –sometimes not- that to reach the highest position in the kitchen they must master each station, and climb the ladder with patience and hard work.
Of course, “climbing the ladder” does not mean “cutting others’ legs to end their climbing”, so you must respect the hierarchy of the kitchen you will join and, of course, respect the rest of the brigade that will work with you.
So what is the meaning of “sous” and why are they so important in the kitchen? It comes from the French “under”, and sous chefs are there to keep the brigade organized. They work almost as much as the executive chef.
By reaching the achievement of becoming a sous chef, many doors will be opening to you.
1. Sous chefs see and learn as any other, from the staff, but they learn more because they are a few steps from the peak of their professional career. Most of the times they are seen by renowned chefs that extend their hands and give them an opportunity to show their abilities.
2. They are the managers of the whole team. Of course, this brings long work hours depending on the place that owns the kitchen: a bar, a hotel, a cruise…
o Their range of tasks will be, among others:
– Keeping the kitchen clean and sanitized.
– Supervising the whole staff.
– Telling each station what to do or when to stop it.
– Controlling the price of each dish, and buying the necessary implements to work without any fail.
– And the most important… being leaders, not bosses. Bosses just give commands and watch others perform them, while leaders work as harder as the staff they share the kitchen with.
3. The part you were waiting for… money! Yes, it’s profitable, but it will depend on many factors such as the country, the type of business, your responsibilities (which are not always the same), and your experience.
Depending on the country and the culinary schools it may have, it will be easier or harder to get a degree. But the most important thing you need to be a sous chef is to keep your eyes wide open and a solid culinary base.