Kitchen Hierarchy Explained: 8 Job Titles in a Kitchen

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 1 February 2023

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The exact job titles, duties and operations of kitchen personnel vary greatly depending on the size, kind and location of the restaurant. Most restaurants adhere to a flexible hierarchical system of command in accordance with the brigade de cuisine. Understanding what each job title entails under the hierarchy can help you determine which kitchen role is the most suitable for you. In this article, we discuss different job titles under the brigade de cuisine kitchen hierarchy and outline the usual tasks of each profession.

Read more: How to Write a Chef Resume Objective (With Tips and Example)

8 positions in the kitchen hierarchy

Every kitchen has a variety of job positions organised in a kitchen hierarchy that keeps the kitchen operating efficiently so that the team can deliver orders on time. Though these duties and responsibilities may differ from one restaurant to another, this is the most usual sequence of kitchen staff functions according to the brigade de cuisine. Each chef reports to the chef immediately above them in the hierarchical order. Below is a list of positions in a kitchen hierarchy:

1. Executive chef

National average salary: $86,758 per year

Primary duties: The executive chef is the most senior position and is primarily a managerial position. An executive chef is in charge of the entire kitchen and may sometimes be in charge of developing and curating the restaurant's menu. Instead of cooking, they frequently concentrate on operations, marketing and public relations. Their major responsibility is to manage the kitchen and its personnel. This entails supervising and training employees, managing the culinary budget and occasionally purchasing ingredients.

Related: What Does an Executive Chef Do? (And How to Become One)

2. Head chef

National average salary: $64,305 per year

Primary duties: In restaurant kitchens without an executive chef, the head chef remains at the top of the hierarchy. Also known as the chef de cuisine, the head chef is in charge of all aspects of the kitchen. These professionals oversee the culinary staff and keep the kitchen running smoothly. They're primarily responsible for collaborating with suppliers, regulating kitchen expenditures, stocking products, tracking expenses, developing menus and recipes and training personnel. Some head chefs delegate cooking to the sous chef and the rest of the crew, while others like to be more involved in preparing food.

Related: What Does a Chief Cook Do? Key Responsibilities and Skills

3. Sous chef

National average salary: $46,647 per year

Primary duties: Also known as the sous chef de cuisine, the sous chef directly reports to the head chef. It's possible to have more than one sous chef, depending on the restaurant and its management. When the head chef isn't working, they usually take over the head chef's duties. Though many of their responsibilities are comparable to those of a head chef, sous chefs tend to be more involved and collaborate more closely with the other kitchen stations. They serve as a liaison between the executive or head chef and the rest of the kitchen personnel and are in charge of managing the day-to-day operations of a kitchen.

Related:

  • What Is a Sous Chef? Definition and How to Become

  • How to Write a Sous Chef Resume Objective (With Examples)

  • How to Create a Sous Chef Resume (With an Example)

4. Station chef

National average salary: $45,603 per year

Primary duties: Also known as the chef de partie, the station chef is in charge of cooking meals at a certain station in the kitchen. Their job title may change depending on their food station, and different chefs are in charge of different cuisine categories. For instance, one chef is in charge of preparing the red meat, while another is in charge of cooking the fish. The station chefs are perhaps the most important people in the kitchen. These chefs prepare the cuisine to be served to customers.

The designation of station chef encompasses a variety of roles, such as the following:

  • Patissier (pastry chef): This person is in charge of all baked products and sweets.

  • Friturier (fry chef): This individual prepares fried food.

  • Boucher (butcher chef): This chef is in charge of the preparation of poultry, meat and occasionally fish before cooking.

  • Grillardin (grill chef): A grillardin prepares grilled meals.

  • Garde manger (pantry manager): This individual prepares cold food items such as salads and charcuterie boards.

Related:

  • How to Write a Chef de Partie Resume (With Example)

  • A Guide to Creating a Butcher Resume (With Tips and Example)

5. Junior chef

National average salary: $31,653 per year

Primary duties: The junior chef, or commis chef, is the kitchen's most junior-level chef. Junior chefs operate in a designated station under the supervision of the station chef. The role of the junior chef is to help the more experienced chefs and learn from their expertise and methods. The aim is to master that station and complete any responsibilities allocated to them by their station chef.

6. Purchasing manager

National average salary: $67,219 per year

Primary duties: The purchasing manager is responsible for acquiring all of the kitchen's food. This individual tracks the food that's available in the kitchen and the food that requires replenishment. Purchasing managers locate and connect with merchants to obtain the highest quality food at the lowest possible price. The purchasing manager works closely with a variety of vendors and employees on a regular basis.

7. Kitchen porter

National average salary: $1,706 per month

Primary duties: Also known as the kitchen assistant or kitchen helper, a kitchen porter often lacks professional culinary expertise and education. This individual is in charge of fundamental food preparation activities that are simple yet vital. Cleaning the meal prep area, washing salad greens and peeling vegetables are examples of such activities.

Related: How to Write a Helper Resume (With Tips and Example)

8. Dishwasher

National average salary: $26,443 per year

Primary duties: The dishwasher, also known as the escuelerie, cleans dishes and silverware and maintains the kitchen. Dishwashers often scrape food residue off dishes and kitchen utensils before sorting and loading racks of dirty dishes into a professional dishwashing machine. Dishwashers sort and return clean plates and other small wares to their proper storage spot.

Essential skills for kitchen staff

If any of the professions listed above sound attractive, it's important that you possess a certain set of talents to work in a kitchen. Here are a few of the most crucial cooking skills:

Related: 25 Cooking Skills To Learn (And How To Improve Them)

Attention to detail

Paying close attention to detail is important to ensure the quality and safety of preparation procedures and the general pace of the operation. Attention to detail enables kitchen staff to manage all of these responsibilities at the same time. It's important to be detail-oriented to ensure that the food that consumers receive is up to standards.

Related: How to Improve Attention to Detail Skills

Communication abilities

It's essential for kitchen staff to possess communication skills to gather information and handle problems quickly. Communication abilities are also important for kitchen staff to communicate and interact with each other. Because the kitchen is a collaborative setting, personnel can communicate to work together effectively. Even during busy times, it's critical to give and accept commands respectfully in kitchen roles. Communication skills can help you ensure the kitchen runs smoothly during peak hours.

Time management

It's important for kitchen staff to manage their time through prioritising and completing meal preparation, purchase scheduling, supply management and kitchen supervision. It's also important for kitchen staff to be able to combine their personal responsibilities with supervising and motivating the whole crew. As such, having excellent time management skills is essential.

Related: How to Manage Time (With 23 Time Management Tips and Advice)

Excellent motor skills and physical stamina

As a kitchen crew member, it's essential that you're able to slice, cut, dice and peel food in a quick manner. For the best outcomes, you can develop excellent motor skills to regularly prepare and portion food. Kitchen staff may also expect to work long shifts in a restaurant that may include walking, standing and lifting. Physical stamina allows kitchen staff to execute all work tasks safely and carefully during their shift.

Ability to perform under pressure

Because restaurants typically have kitchens with limited space and numerous people working toward several goals, the kitchen may become busy around mealtimes. To cook meals safely and successfully, the kitchen crew can remain calm to work well under pressure.

Organisational skills

Kitchen staff can neatly arrange all utensils, food products, dishes and cutlery to have the most efficient kitchen. To minimise cross-contamination, it's important for kitchen personnel to understand how to securely organise food products. Organisational skills also help in expediting orders.

Excellent memory

Working in a restaurant requires a strong recall, whether you're a cook or a waiter. As part of your job, you can memorise recipes and precise orders. When the orders start piling up, there won't be much time to peruse through recipes.

Related: What Does a Waiter or Waitress Do? (With 7 Essential Skills)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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