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Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by magpie, Feb 23, 2006.
Are a pantry cook and prep cook the same thing? What is the difference if any?
in the places i've worked, 'pantry' was another word for garde manger. 'prep' was a sort of a catch-all term for people who did exactly that, in any number of different departments.
Prep: People who prepare food that will later be used for cooking food that actually goes out to the table.
Pantry: People who put together food and plates (typically salds, cold apps and desserts) that go out to the table.
So if you had, say, shrimp cocktails coming out of your pantry station. The prep person might be cleaning the shrimp, poaching them, and making the cocktail sauce. But the pantry person is actually on the line (or station, depending on the kitchen) and plating the things as they are sold.
My job is classified as a pantry cook because my responsibilities are preparing mostly fruits and vegetables for my salad bar. But I also do more than those like cooking duties for other stations whenever it is lunch service like replenishing roasted vegetable and other meat entrees, replenishing other similar vegetables for 2 other bars, etcetera. But I do most of the prep almost the whole day but 1 day ahead to prep the next day.
Another distinction is that pantry cooks are traditionally responsible for inventory management, cooler organization, etc. In my case, besides cooking, I also have to check in and down-stack our daily liquor and produce deliveries. Our cooler/dry food deliveries only come once a week, so anyone in the building has to help given the size, but ultimately I'm the one whose primary job it is to do this.
Prep is more like just peeling carrots & potatoes.
Each restaurant is different though, and there's a lot of overlap between pantry and prep, so it sometimes just comes down to personal preference of the owner. Part of the reason for this is that "prep" is not a position in the original Brigade de Cuisine; it's a more recent invention as restaurants (especially casual chains) have tried to streamline the Brigade de Cuisine into as few positions as possible. The closest two positions to prep in the Brigade are garde manger and garçon de cuisine (kitchen boy), but the garçon de cuisine was responsible for more or less any menial task (cleaning the kitchen, peeling vegetables, bussing tables, etc) that the chefs didn't feel like doing, so it differs a little from prep in the modern sense as well.