Chef jobs and how to start your career

If you’re passionate about cooking, then starting a chef job could be what you’re looking for. Preparing food for others gives you the chance to unleash your creativity. It’s also a great way to earn an income. There are many different types of chefs and kitchen jobs in the hospitality industry.

What is a chef?

The word chef is derived from the term chef de cuisine which means director of the kitchen. A chef is a professional cook who typically works in a restaurant or hotel kitchen. Usually chefs focus on a particular cuisine, however they know all about the different aspects of food preparation.

What types of chefs do you get?

There are many different chefs in the kitchen. Each one fulfils a particular certain role. They work together to create the finished product. Chefs generally hold higher rankings in the kitchen. In restaurants, there are also managerial chefs and specialised chefs. From organising the kitchen and training to menu development and recipe creation, chefs have to be able to complete many tasks.

Find the chef job that’s perfect for you
Find the chef job that’s perfect for you

Group chef 

The primary role of a group chef is business management. There is only one group chef in the kitchen. They are responsible for the day to day running of the restaurant and will often work on the menu.

Executive Chef (Chef de Cuisine, Head Chef)

Managing the kitchen is the main duty of the executive chef. As there is only one per kitchen, this is a highly competitive role. They oversee the daily operations, kitchen costs, food preparation and menu planning. The often create new recipes and dishes.

Sous Chef (Second Chef, Under Chef)

This type of chef manages the kitchen team. There can be more than one sous chef in the kitchen, depending on the size.  They oversee the details of each dish as well as the food lines. The sous chef is second in command and reports to the executive chef. They are also responsible for training newly hired chefs and cooks.

Senior chef (Chef de Partie, Station Chef)

This chef’s primary task is station management. There can be more than one Chef de Partie in a kitchen. They are usually specialist on a certain portion of the menu and will ensure that high-quality food leaves their station.

Specialised Chefs

This type of chef is an expert in their specific field. There is no hierarchy here.

Pastry Chef (Patissier)

The main job description of a Pastry Chef is to prepare pastries, breads and desserts. This type of chef is in charge of the dessert menu. To fulfil this position, specialised training or a degree is required. Depending on the type of establishment, this role can be equal to that of the executive chef.

Pastry Chef Jobs
Chef jobs can be very creative

Sauce Chef (Saucier, Saute Chef)

The primary task of this type of chef is to prepare the sauces and gravies for all the meals. They can also prepare soups and stews. This role is usually found where French cuisine is served.

Fish Chef (Poissonier)

This type of chef specialises in preparing and cooking seafood. They may also be responsible for purchasing the seafood.

Vegetable Chef (Entremetier)

As the name suggests, a vegetable chef is in charge of the preparing and cooking vegetables and starches. They may also be responsible for some soups and egg dishes.

Meat Chef (Rotisseur, Roast Chef)

A Meat Chef prepares and cooks meats by roasting, braising, broiling or other methods. They may also be in charge of ordering and purchasing the meat.

Pantry Chef (Garde Manger)

This chef’s responsibility is to prepare cold food items like salads, cold cuts, hors d’oeuvres and dressings. They also set up buffet lines and create centrepieces for the food stations.

Fry Chef (Friturier)

Frying food is the main job description of this type of chef. They mainly work in fast food establishments.

Grill Chef (Grillardin)

The Grill Chef cooks foods that need to be grilled. This can include meats and vegetables.

Butcher Chef (Boucher)

This chef prepares cuts of meat for other station chefs to cook. They are mainly needed in larger establishments to keep up with the demand.

How to become a Chef

Being a chef isn’t an easy job. The hours can be long and you’re on your feet for most of the day. Whether you’re the head chef or a cook, you will be held responsible for the quality of food and output of the kitchen.

Becoming a chef is as much about studying as it is about having practical experience. Many chefs don’t have formal training. Instead, they opt to learn their craft by training on the job and starting from the bottom.

However, having a qualification is never a bad idea and there are many ways to obtain one. From hotel schools to universities, there is a training programme to suit everyone’s needs.

If you’re passionate about cooking and want to make a career out of being a chef, take a look at some of the job vacancies currently on offer at freerecruit.co.za.