chef-y terms...

Joined Feb 17, 2010
hi all,

as a big fan of cooking shows like top chef, the contestants are all variously titled -- executive sous chef, chef de cuisine, sous chef, etc. 

what do all of these terms signify?  what is the restaurant hierarchy?

thanks for the clarification, guys!
Joined Jan 21, 2011
The Brigade System in today's kitchen is the same model that was in place before Escoffier created the Brigade System.

A Chef is always the leader of the kitchen.

    - An Executive Chef is more of a coordinator - And may manage two or more kitchens. They may not work in the kitchen at all.

If someone calls themselves an Executive Chef, and they are working in a kitchen, and only one kitchen - then they are just a Chef.

If a chef plans the menu, he could be called a Chef de Cusine. BUT: If he is the same chef that works in that kitchen - he is just a Chef.

In large organizations, you will have a Chef that manages each kitchen.

The Chef de Cusine and Executive Chef may be the same person or serve the same role as an overall manager of the kitchen chefs.

    - In today's kitchen, they need these guys to maximize profit by coordinating the supply chain to multiple site kitchens.

If a Chef is the leader of a kitchen, but he gets his menu planned by an Executive or Chef de Cusine - then he is not a chef - he is just a journeyman talent resource, and known as Institutional Cook or Chef supervisor.

Suppose that a Chef is the main guy that has authority over ordering, menu and management. In that event, he may delegate menu coordination among the lead cooks in his brigade. Fish, Meat, Muse, Dessert, Apps - they will all coordinate and determine the next day's menu (or weekly menu), based on what product they have to cycle-out, what is in season and what input or guidance the Chef may offer. Most professional kitchens run this way - where every cook is completely responsible for their own station.

I made fun of the brigade system in my opening statement becayse most places just have four primary stations: Meat, Fish, Cold and Dessert. If it is a high-output kitchen they will have a dedicated fry or grille station, maybe... hot and cold apps are split, maybe... But it is more or less those four primary positions and then a brigade full of low-skill grunts for everything else.
Joined Jan 29, 2011
Executive Chef - someone who is in charge of multiple outlets. for example, a resort may have a steakhouse, a latin restaurant, healthy food etc. the executive chef position is more of a desk job that coordinates all of the venues and oversees all operations. in some cases the executive chef will choose to have more input (menus that is) in the "flagship" restaurant of the resort... flagship meaning the higher end of the venues. 

Chef de Cuisine  - in regards to the above example each venue would have a supervising chef that oversees that particular kitchen. the Chef de Cuisine is responsible for menu planning and running the brigade. depending on the volume output of the restaurant this chef may or may not "work the line" or serve as expediter orchestrating the cooks and overseeing every dish that leaves the kitchen. in smaller operations it is not uncommon for this chef to work the line with another person expediting and organizing the food runners/wait staff. paperwork is involved in this position and depending on the need and size of the operation can be delegated in part to the sous chef

Sous Chef - literally means "under chef". this person is the chef's right hand. in a large resort situation with several venues there may also be an Executive Sous Chef who assists the Exec. in coordinating operations. in single unit restaurants the sous chef can be responsible for everything from inventory, ordering, scheduling to cooking on the most demanding station (generally saute). the responsibilities really depend on how big the restaurant is, the volume, wether or not there is a catering department. in small venues the sous chef may not have many responsibilities as they can be handled by the chef. the sous chef is the one that would fill in for the chef on their days off or is not in house at the moment. 

Chef de Partie - is the title given to a station cook wether it be pantry, grill, saute, etc. 

The above poster provided a link that distinguishes the french brigade names for the different stations.... entremetier, grillardine, etc. 
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