What Is a Chef Tournant? Role and Responsibilities
Updated March 3, 2023
The culinary industry has many job opportunities for individuals interested in cooking, and the kitchen hierarchy system allows aspiring chefs to advance in their careers. One individual in the hierarchy is the chef tournant, who completes a variety of kitchen duties as needed. If you're interested in working as a chef tournant, it's important to understand the expectations and responsibilities of the job to decide whether it's the right path for you. In this article, we discuss the role and responsibilities of a chef tournant and explore the qualifications needed for the job.
What is a chef tournant?
Also known as a floating or relief chef, a chef tournant is a member of the culinary hierarchy whose job involves stepping in when needed to complete a variety of culinary duties. A chef tournant may have several responsibilities in the kitchen, all of which have an important role in the quality of the final product. They typically work directly under the head and sous chefs, completing any tasks asked of them.
Their duties may include sauteing, frying, dicing, blending and boiling food. They may also sanitize equipment, record inventory and communicate with other members of the kitchen staff. Because of the wide range of their tasks, it's essential that a chef tournant is well-acquainted with all aspects of the culinary process to ensure customers can receive the highest-quality food possible.
What does a chef tournant do?
A chef tournant has various responsibilities in the kitchen, all of which are variable based on circumstance. For instance, if a sous (second in command) chef calls out sick, the head chef may assign a chef tournant to handle their responsibilities. In other situations, a chef tournant may train new hires or prepare vegetables for cooking. Here are some other potential duties of a chef tournant:
Checking inventory of meat and produce
Maintaining a sanitary cooking environment
Ensuring that all cooking procedures adhere to safety standards
Assisting head chef and sous chef in the development of new recipes
Checking equipment and appliances and ensuring everything functions properly and safely
Communicating with other chefs and managing kitchen staff
What skills does a chef tournant have?
Here are some of the most important skills for a chef tournant:
Culinary expertise: A chef tournant has expertise in various components of the culinary process, as the head and sous chefs expect them to assist whenever necessary. They should be able to handle a majority of the tasks typical of a kitchen, including preparing, cooking, cleaning, training and quality assurance.
Communication: Strong communication skills are critical for a chef tournant, as they often train new employees. These professionals can also communicate effectively with superiors to ensure they're completing their duties correctly.
Leadership: A chef tournant may also fill the role of high-ranking chefs, such as the head or sous chefs, making leadership and confidence important skills. In these instances, they command the kitchen and oversee junior chefs as they complete their duties.
Attention to detail: As the unofficial manager of the kitchen, the chef tournant has strong attention to detail in terms of food quality, sanitation measures and safety regulations. It's important that they're attentive to all parts of the culinary process to ensure that customers receive the highest-quality food.
Efficiency: A chef tournant may have several duties during a shift, meaning that efficiency is a key component in fulfilling all their tasks. They try to complete every task as quickly as possible so they can move on to the next, while still maintaining the quality standards of the work establishment.
Adaptability: With their variety of responsibilities, it's essential that a chef tournant can adapt to every situation on the job. Their assignments may include working the fryer or assisting the head chef, which are all duties they're prepared for and ready to complete to their fullest ability.
What qualifications do chef tournants need?
Here are the main qualifications necessary for finding employment as a chef tournant:
High school diploma
The most basic requirement for any culinary job is a high school diploma or GED. This is a common qualification in the culinary world, as it ensures that chefs have basic education surrounding topics like safety and fundamental culinary terminology. Most high-level chef positions require a culinary degree, which you can only get once you've completed your high school diploma, so it's important to meet this fundamental requirement.
Although not always required, most restaurants, catering businesses and other food establishments prefer for their chefs to have professional training from an accredited culinary school. Culinary schools typically offer either two-year or four-year degrees, with some of the most respected culinary schools operating overseas, usually in Europe. The culinary industry accepts foreign degrees, with some establishments preferring them to domestic ones.
Your background in the food industry can distinguish you from other chef tournant job candidates. Most employers prefer to hire chefs with experience in the kitchen to limit the amount of training necessary for them to complete their duties. Experience is essential within the culinary field, and networking with past employers can be helpful when searching for a new position. On-the-job experience can help you build your professional network and develop your culinary skills.
Chef tournant job outlook and salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of all chefs is expected to grow by 25% between 2020 and 2023, a growth rate that is significantly higher than most jobs. 18,800 chef openings are projected per year, meaning chefs may have many job opportunities. The average yearly salary of a chef tournant or any other assistant chef position totals about $30,001 per year. Chefs can often increase their salary potential as they gain experience, and this amount may also vary depending on their location and employer.
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