Below are various titles given to those working in a professional kitchen and each can be considered a title for a type of chef. Many of the titles are based on the brigade system (Brigade de cuisine), documented by Georges Auguste Escoffier, while others have a more general meaning depending on the individual kitchen.
Not all restaurants will use these titles as each establishment may have its own set guidelines to organization. Specialized and hierarchal chef titles are usually found only in fine-dining, upscale restaurants; kitchen staff members at casual restaurants such as diners are more often called “cook” or “short-order cook”.
Executive Chef (Chef de Cuisine) (Head Chef)
The person in charge of all things related to the kitchen usually including menu creation, management, scheduling, and payroll of entire kitchen staff, ordering, and plating design. Chef de Cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef comes, and is more common in European kitchens. Executive Chef is more common in the U.S. and England. Head Chef is often used to designate someone with the same duties as an executive chef, but there is usually someone in charge of them, possibly making the larger executive decisions such as direction of menu, final authority in staff management decisions, etc. This is often the case for chefs with several restaurants.
The sous-chef de cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen) is the direct assistant of the executive chef and is second in command. They may be responsible for scheduling, and filling in when the executive chef is off-duty. The Sous Chef will also fill in for, or assist the chef de partie (line cook) when needed. Smaller operations may not have a sous chef, while larger operations may have multiple.
The expediter takes the orders from the dining room and relays them to the stations in the kitchen. This person also often puts the finishing touches on the dish before it goes to the dining room. In some operations this task may be done by either the executive chef or the sous chef.
Chef de Partie
A chef de partie, also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with “First Cook”, then “Second Cook”, and so on as needed.
Station chef titles which are part of the brigade system include-
Sauté Chef (Saucier) [sos.je] – Responsible for all sautéed items and their sauce. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.
Fish Chef (Poissonier) [pwɑ.so.ɲe] – Prepares fish dishes and often does all fish butchering as well as appropriate sauces. This station may be combined with the saucier position.
Roast Chef (Rotisseur) [ʀo.ti.sœʀ] – Prepares roasted and braised meats and their appropriate sauce.
Grill Chef (Grillardin) [gʀi.jaʀ.dɛ̃] – Prepares all grilled foods, this position may be combined with the rotisseur.
Fry Chef (Friturier) [fʀi.ty.ʀje] – Prepares all fried items, position may be combined with the rotisseur position.
Vegetable Chef (Entremetier) [ã.tʀə.me.tje] – Prepares hot appetizers and often prepares the soups, vegetables, pastas and starches. In a full brigade system a potager would prepare soups and a legumier would prepare vegetables.
Roundsman (Tournant) [tuʀ.nã] – Also referred to as a swing cook, fills in as needed on station in kitchen.
Pantry Chef (Garde Manger) [gaʀd mã.ʒe] They are responsible for preparing cold foods, including salads, cold appetizers, pâtés and other charcuterie items.
Butcher (Boucher) [bu.ʃe] – Butchers meats, poultry and sometimes fish. May also be responsible for breading meats and fish.
Pastry Chef (Pâtissier) [pa.ti.sje] – Prepare baked goods, pastries and desserts. In larger establishments, the pastry chef often supervises a separate team in their own kitchen or separate shop.
A commis is an apprentice in larger kitchens that works under a chef de partie in order to learn the station’s responsibilities and operation. This may be a chef who has recently completed formal culinary training or is still undergoing training