Chefs are responsible for the preparation and cooking of food, using a variety of cookery techniques. In large kitchens they are part of a cookery team responsible for one particular cookery section such as bread and pastries, or vegetables.
A chef in training is usually known as a commis chef. Time is spent in each department, learning different cookery techniques. It is also part of the role of a commis chef to look after the kitchen equipment and utensils.
The person in charge of a section of the kitchen is known as a chef de partie, or section chef, and is responsible to the sous chef, or under-chef. The sous chef has experience in every department, and can run the kitchen on behalf of the head chef if necessary.
The head chef, who may also be known as the executive chef or maitre de cuisine, is responsible for running the entire kitchen. Tasks include menu planning, dealing with suppliers, managing the budget and organising staff. The head chef will also be responsible for monitoring and maintaining the quality of food the kitchen produces. A chef or cook in a smaller kitchen may also be responsible for cleaning and tidying up, and serving customers.
Most chefs work 40 hours a week and often work overtime. It is usual to work evenings, weekends and public holidays. Chefs working for a contract caterer may work more regular hours. There are usually opportunities to work part-time, or to do casual or seasonal work.
Kitchens have to abide by health and safety and hygiene regulations. Chefs must constantly be aware of the relevant regulations. Protective clothing and a head covering are worn.
To be a chef, you should:
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