On the Line / Hiring / What is a sous chef?

What is a sous chef?

Learn all about what a sous chef does, how much they're paid, and much more!

What is a sous chef

What is a sous chef?

A sous chef is a skilled and versatile cook who reports directly to the chef de cuisine or executive chef in a French brigade kitchen. A sous chef can oversee production in the entire kitchen, acting as the chef’s second-in-command.

Sous chefs usually have culinary education or have worked their way up through the ranks of kitchens. They must have acquired a knowledge of flavors and textures and mastered various cooking techniques and methods.

What are a sous chef's duties and responsibilities?

The sous chef occupies an essential role in kitchens–their responsibilities and duties include:

  • Help to develop recipes for food and beverage menus

  • Design menus

  • Coordinate with other chefs and management staff

  • Knowledge of restaurant management software

  • Develop and consistently execute processes

  • Fill in for the executive chef when he’s off duty

  • Solve issues in the kitchen as they arise

  • Recruit, hire, and train kitchen staff

  • Order supplies and ingredients

  • Know and adhere to food safety standards

How much are sous chefs paid?

The average salary for sous chefs is between $35,000 and $60,000. A sous chef’s earning potential is determined by location, skill, experience, and the revenue of the restaurant where they work.

Sous chefs that work in industrial roles, such as in research and development or quality control for large corporations, tend to earn higher salaries than their counterparts who work in restaurants.

What are the qualities that make a good sous chef?

Good sous chefs are creative, precise, and efficient in the kitchen. They are good leaders, knowing which tasks to prioritize and how to keep a kitchen running smoothly.

How to become a sous chef?

Becoming a sous chef requires a combination of education and experience in the restaurant food service industry. Most sous chefs earn their education in culinary school and then work their way up through kitchens. Cooks must demonstrate that they have the skills and knowledge for the job before being promoted to the role of sous chef.

Getting hired as a sous chef requires determination and persistence. Many restaurants and food service businesses like to hire and promote from within the company. So, you might have to start as a line cook or prep coon and show the owners and managers that you have leadership skills to match your cooking skills.

It’s always a good idea to browse local job ads to see what restaurants have openings for sous chefs. It’s common practice to ask new hires to stage or to work on a trial period for a few weeks or months in the restaurant. During that time, you’ll have to prove that you have what it takes for the job.

How to hire a sous chef?

When looking to hire a sous chef, make a detailed list of the education, skills, and qualifications that you expect candidates to possess. That way, you can begin to imagine the right person to add to your team. Remember to consider what hours you’ll expect the sous chef to work and what their availability needs to be.

Start looking for candidates in your kitchen. Are there any prep cooks, line cooks, or even managers who have the skills and experience for the role? Hiring from within the company ensures that the person already works well with the team and knows the specifics of the business.

When interviewing applicants for sous chef, ask them about their leadership skills. Remember to verify candidates’ skills, experience, and certifications. “Staging” is a common practice in restaurants. Don’t be afraid to ask candidates to spend a few weeks demonstrating that they have what it takes to perform the role. 

Sous chefs are the second-in-command in a brigade kitchen’s hierarchy. They occupy a critical role–the work requires creativity and can be challenging. Many chefs find stable, enjoyable careers as sous chefs.

Is this article helpful?

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.