The Culinary Ranks
Head Chef, Sous Chef, Expediter, Chef de Partie, if you’ve ever had an interest in the culinary world you
might have heard these terms before. If you ever watched the Disney movie Ratatouille, you might even have an
idea of the meaning of some of these titles. I wrote this to help shed some light on the titles, as well as
functions in a professional kitchen.
The best way to start is at the tippy top of the food chain. An Executive Chef or Head Chef, a person of this title is the boss of the kitchen. This person’s hand don’t really get dirty, instead their time is spent forming menus, composing schedules, writing paychecks, and supervising everything that goes on. This person is essentially the business mind of the kitchen. But don’t be fooled, this person might not cook, but is highly skilled and trained in the culinary arts.
The Sous Chef is second or third down the line, depending on whether or not there’s both an Executive Chef and a Chef de Cuisine or just one. This person helps to maintain smooth operations by taking command during the absence of the higher up(s) or even occasionally filling in for a missing line cook. They are basically the assistants of the Executive Chef. Some kitchens might have a few people under this title and smaller ones might have none, it just depends on the size of the operations.
Expediter is a term for the person that basically stands for the announcer of the kitchen. But this person doesn’t just flap their gums all day. Aside calling out orders to the cooks, a person of this rank also carefully inspects the outgoing plates and adds the final touch of elegance before being served.
A Chef de Partie is other French term, in English we would call this person a line cook but, in my opinion, it sounds a bit classier in French. This is the bottom of the pyramid, and depending on the size of the kitchen there are few or many to support this structure. There are also multiple titles for each of these cooks that described what they handle or are responsible for. Starting with the highest of the low, there is a Sauté Chef who usually makes the sauces and sautéed foods. Then there’s Fish Chef, Roast Chef, Grill Chef, and Fry Chef. What all these guys handle is pretty easy to guess based on their title. The Vegetable Chef handles soups and pastas as well as vegetable dishes. There’s a person called a Rounds-man who can work or fill in for any of the line Chef’s, think culinary jack of all trades. Then there’s a Cold-Foods Chef who handles dishes such as salads and appetizers. There might be a person with the title of Butcher; they prepare the meat and poultry but leave the fish to the Fish Chef. Last but not least, there’s occasionally a Pastry Chef who handles the sweets and baked good, this person might also have their own section in the kitchen and their own staff depending on the scale of baking needed.
Before reading all this, I’m willing to bet you were not aware of how much “man-power” went into making your dinner. Just remember it depends on the size of the establishment, whether or not they have a person for every one of the titles mentioned above. I hope that by now you have gained a better idea on how intense the culinary world can be. Maybe you might have even seen a title that makes you want to pick up a spatula or whisk and join these ranks, or at least have a bit more respect for the people in these fields. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it! If not, a lot of people might be eating some pretty bad dinners.TAGS: chef de cuisine, chef de partie, culinary ranks, expediter, head chef, JAMES, kitchen, restaurant, sous chef