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Hierarchy in The Kitchen

For a newcomer to the professional kitchen the culture and rules are as much a mystery as they should be adhered to. Many of these unsaid rules relate to hierarchy in the kitchen. Known as the Brigade de Cuisine, the following list denotes who comes where in the domain of the professional chef:

* Kitchen Porter: Kitchen Porter or KP, as he is widely known in the trade, provides the back breaking work as the backbone of the kitchen. Primarily he/she washes up, ensuring all chefs have the tools of the trade at their station. S/he packs deliveries away accordingly, and generally cleans down the kitchen and mops the floor at the end of the night.

* Commis Chef: Commis Chef is the entry level by which an apprentice chef enters the trade. Often the Commis Chef is studying food or catering at college whilst practising this role in a professional kitchen. The Commis Chef acts as an assistant to all food station's, usually supporting the Chef de Partie; and performing the more menial tasks of the kitchen such as peeling potatoes and chopping onions in large quantities. In some smaller kitchen's s/he will prepare salads, garnishes and other simple dishes.

* Chef de Partie: Also known as Station Chef or Line Cook, the Chef de Partie is responsible for a certain section within the kitchen. In a busy kitchen s/he is assisted by one or more assistants, Demi Chef de Partie or Commis Chef's. Chef de Partie's are responsible for areas such as Saute, Roast, Grill, Fish, Larder, Fry, Vegetable's & Butchery. A Roundsman Chef de Partie is so called as they rotate between all of the individual stations.

* Pastry Chef: Pastry Chef is a Chef de Partie who is responsible for the dessert and puddings section of the kitchen. S/he also ensures all pastries and breads are baked freshly, and will head a team of professionals in large kitchens including a baker. The Pastry Chef devises and delivers the dessert menu including all elements that appear on it such as cheese and wine choices.

* Sous Chef: The Sous Chef is second in command in the professional kitchen. Once a chef has mastered all of the sections of the kitchen as a Chef de Partie s/he is trained and ready to essentially run the kitchen and supervise the rest of the kitchen team in the absence of the Head Chef, to whom the Sous Chef is the direct assistant.

* Head Chef, Executive Chef, Chef de Cuisine – The Head Chef devises the menu, sources produce and oversees all management aspects of the kitchen including budgeting, scheduling staff, payroll and recruitment. The Head Chef has a plenty of scope for creativity within the role as menu creation and development is often their sole responsibility.

Training for a fully qualified chef is usually four years as a Commis (1st year Commis, 2nd year Commis, and so on) after which, providing that they meet the standard, they become a fully qualified kitchen professional, and begin their climb up the demanding kitchen career ladder, through all of the levels to Head Chef, and top of the hierarchy.


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