Sous Chef Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Sous Chef, or Second Chef, is responsible for providing supportive leadership to kitchen staff throughout food service. Their duties include assisting the Head Chef in monitoring kitchen activities, expediting orders to ensure quality taste or presentation and taking on additional responsibilities in the Head Chef’s absence to ensure that kitchen staff has proper direction.

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Sous Chef duties and responsibilities

Sous Chefs oversee food preparation and cooking in establishments like restaurants and hotels, and they help with the hiring and training of new kitchen staff. To succeed in this job, a candidate must be able to effectively undertake the following day-to-day duties and responsibilities:

  • Preparing meals and food to meet the specifications of guests in a timely manner
  • Properly measuring kitchen ingredients and food portions
  • Ensuring kitchen staff adhere to set standards, procedures, department rules and sanitation requirements
  • Using kitchen knives and equipment such as grills, ovens, steamers and warmers in food preparation
  • Managing the kitchen inventory and ensuring supplies are fresh and of high quality
  • Ensuring proper food temperatures when cooking and proper storage afterward
  • Keeping the workstation and kitchen equipment clean, organized and sanitized
  • Taking charge of kitchen opening, closing and other side duties as directed by the Executive Chef
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What does a Sous Chef do?

Sous Chefs typically work for restaurants, hotels, event venues or private business entities to ensure quality dining services for their patrons. They work closely with Cooks, Waiters and Food Vendors to maintain kitchen operations. Their job is to help hire and train Cooks and other kitchen employees. They may also be responsible for creating new recipes or revamping existing menu items.

Sous Chef skills and qualifications

In order to work in a busy restaurant directing kitchen activities and supervising other members of staff, a Sous Chef must have certain skills and qualifications, including the following:

  • Exceptional cooking skills
  • Ability to effectively manage the kitchen staff, motivate them and assign duties fairly
  • Familiarity with the best practices in the hotel and catering services industry
  • Knowledge of health and safety standards
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office, Point of Sale and restaurant management software
  • Ability to multitask and work quickly under pressure
  • Advanced verbal and written communication skills
  • Attention to detail and organizational skills

Sous Chef salary expectations

A Sous Chef makes an average of $49,385 per year. This salary may vary depending on a candidate’s education and experience as well as your location and type of establishment.

Sous Chef education and training requirements

Most employers look for Sous Chef candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in culinary science from an accredited university. Applicants with high school diplomas and extensive on-the-job experience can also be considered. Formal culinary training in food preparation and culinary management is a plus as well. Where necessary, a candidate should be able to produce licenses or certifications required by local and state agencies for food production and management.

Sous Chef experience requirements

Applicants should have at least 3 years of formal culinary experience or food service management at a busy restaurant or hotel kitchen. Many employers prefer candidates who have prior experience working as Sous Chefs or Kitchen Managers. Applicants should be able to demonstrate experience using kitchen equipment and a thorough understanding of various cooking methods, food preparation techniques and sanitation procedures.

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Frequently asked questions about Sous Chefs

 

What is the difference between a Sous Chef and a Line Cook?

The difference between a Sous Chef and a Line Cook is seniority, depth of professional experiences and areas of job focus. For example, Sous Chefs usually have previous professional experience as a Line Cook or another role. Because of their experience, they hold more seniority and usually oversee Line Cooks in their daily job duties. Similarly, a Sous Chef’s seniority means that they have a more broad range of responsibilities, including training new hires, taking produce inventory and overseeing cleaning activities.

In contrast, Line Cooks have previous experience working as Kitchen Assistants or Commis Chefs. They’re responsible for one station throughout service to cook vegetables, meat, sauces and other items to complete dishes in a timely manner.

 

What are the daily duties of a Sous Chef?

On a typical day, a Sous Chef arrives to work before the start of service. They review food inventory, receive shipments from Food Vendors and speak with the Head Chef and other staff about menu changes and other details. During the lunch service, the Sous Chef reviews order tickets, motivates kitchen staff and assists them in cooking or plating dishes. Depending on their employer’s needs, Sous Chefs might get a period of rest between the lunch and dinner services. 

At this time, they help their staff clean up from the lunch service, review produce inventory and get time to sit and eat before the next shift. Throughout dinner service, the Sous Chef completes much of the same duties that they did during the lunch service.

 

What qualities make a good Sous Chef?

A good Sous Chef has a passion for cooking, which inspires them to create new recipes and motivate their staff to bring the same energy to their roles. They value continued education and repeatedly look for ways to improve their cooking skills at home or in professional cooking classes. Further, a good Sous Chef has a commitment to quality and looks to uphold their employer’s standards by conducting quality control on dishes before they approve them to go out. 

A good Sous Chef also has a commanding voice that allows them to communicate with their staff in a clear and effective manner.

 

Who does a Sous Chef report to?

A Sous Chef usually reports to the Head Chef or the Executive Chef at their workplace. These individuals provide the Sous Chef with guidelines about how to cook certain dishes and how to run the kitchen in their absence. They also delegate tasks to Sous Chefs relating to taking inventory and placing inventory for food products.

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