How to Get a Restaurant Job As a Sous Chef

Ever wondered how to get a job as Sous Chef in a restaurant, or what that job really is?

A Sous Chef is a vital role in a professional kitchen. “Sous” meaning “under” in French, means you are literally under the Executive Chef in terms of position and power in the kitchen.

A sous chef is  essentially that of an assistant manager in the kitchen, so in this case, a job as a sous chef is a job in management. A sous chef’s role is to be in charge when the Executive Chef is not. He has power over most of the other kitchen staff, but not absolute power when it comes to all decisions.

What are the responsibilities of a sous chef?

A sous chef needs to know how the kitchen runs and be able to do any job in a pinch. He may also be responsible for scheduling and making sure the kitchen is properly staffed at all times. He will be in charge of the kitchen when the head chef is not, so it is important that is a good leader and be able to delegate responsibility while also gaining respect of the kitchen staff.

To be a good sous chef, a candidate must:

  • Be knowledgable and experienced in all aspects of professional cooking, including which positions are responsible for which jobs.
  • Be organized able to communicate properly with the Executive Chef as well as the rest of the kitchen staff.
  • Have a passion for cooking and the restaurant industry in general
  • Be neat and professional in appearance, as well as have good hygiene and knowledge of safety and sanitation in the kitchen.
  • Be able to order and cost food for the kitchen, and cost recipes as necessary.
  • Have good leadership skills.

How do I become a Sous Chef in a professional kitchen?

To become a sous chef, you must have a passion and knowledge for food and cooking, as well as the experience necessary to perform such an important role in a professional kitchen. Many chefs gain this experience with a formal education followed by a progression through such positions as prep cook and line cook, and working their way up in the industry.

While a formal education is not necessary, it’s much harder to be taken seriously for top positions unless you have the ability to demonstrate the necessary experience. Many top professionals do not have Culinary Arts degrees and have done a fine job of moving their way up. Remember, a degree is a step in the right direction, but it is not a guarantee, but a way to get your foot in the door. High up positions, such as sous chef jobs rely much more on experience than education.

Professional certifications such as those by the American Culinary Federations show that you are serious about your career as well as able to pass the rigorous practical exams required for the certification. The ACF also has trade shows and conferences that are great places to meet other chefs and food professionals who will surely be able to help you find jobs and keep up to date on the upcoming trends.

In addition, learn all you can about the restaurant industry, it’s history and of course food and cooking. Continue your education by taking classes and attending seminars. The more you know, the more credible you will be. And of course, always be professional. High end restaurants pride themselves on their service and professionalism; their staff must as well in order to represent them.

A good sous chef in a high end restaurant (especially those in large cities) can easily make a good salary and earn great respect as well.

With or without a formal culinary education, those who are determined as well as passionate about cooking can work hard  to gain the necessary experience to get one of the most desired positions in a professional kitchen.

Sous Chef Restaurant Job References:

American Culinary Federation Certification Guide:

Sous Chef Salary, Pay and Wage Information

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