Auguste Escoffier revolutionized the culinary world at the end of the 19th century with his creation of the kitchen brigade. This hierarchical system was inspired by his experience in the French army and is still used in modern kitchens today. Depending on the size of the restaurant, there may be more than 20 different positions within the kitchen staff. At the top of the hierarchy is the executive chef, who is responsible for managing the kitchen and creating the restaurant menu.
The chef de cuisine, or head chef, works together with the executive chef and may even be the same person depending on the size of the kitchen. Their duties include monitoring kitchen activities, tracking inventory, making purchases, and training new employees. The subchef is responsible for daily operations and may overlap in duties with those of the head chef. The executive chef is mainly managerial and usually manages multiple establishments.
Kitchen porters help with basic kitchen tasks and are less likely to have received formal training. The chef de partie is responsible for all food that leaves a station and must guarantee quality in all dishes. This is a junior position, which is sometimes awarded to recent graduates or to those who have completed a period as interns (fellows). A kitchen assistant usually moves around the kitchen according to the needs of the restaurant and responds directly to the chef from the place where he is assigned.
The purpose of Escoffier's kitchen brigade was to ensure that every cook had a clear purpose and that the kitchen could operate with maximum efficiency. This guide will provide an overview of all 24 positions within this hierarchical system.
Executive ChefThe executive chef holds the highest position in the kitchen staff hierarchy. Instead of preparing food, this chef is in charge of managerial aspects of kitchen management. They are also responsible for creating restaurant menus.
Chef de CuisineAlso known as head chef, the chef de cuisine works together with the executive chef.
Depending on the size of the kitchen, they may be at the top of the hierarchy and report directly to the restaurant manager or owner. They largely play a supervisory role, ensuring that the kitchen runs smoothly and taking initiative in creating menus.
SubchefThe subchef is second-in-command to the head chef. They must have strong cooking and management skills as they must be prepared to help in all areas of the kitchen, as well as monitor inventory and employee performance.
Chef de PartieThe chef de partie is responsible for all food that leaves a station and must guarantee quality in all dishes. This is a junior position, which is sometimes awarded to recent graduates or to those who have completed a period as interns (fellows).
Kitchen PorterKitchen porters help with basic kitchen tasks and are less likely to have received formal training.
Their function usually includes introductory preparation of food, such as peeling potatoes, and some cleaning tasks.
Kitchen AssistantA kitchen assistant usually moves around the kitchen according to needs of the restaurant and responds directly to the chef from where they are assigned.
SaucierThe saucier is responsible for preparing sauces, soups, stocks, gravies, and other liquid dishes.
GrillardinThe grillardin specializes in grilling meats and fish.
Fry CookThe fry cook specializes in deep-frying foods.
RotisseurThe rotisseur specializes in roasting meats.
PoissonnierThe poissonnier specializes in preparing fish dishes.
EntremetierThe entremetier specializes in preparing vegetables, starches, eggs, rice dishes, soups, sauces, and other side dishes.
TournantThe tournant is a jack-of-all-trades who can fill in for any position when needed.
PatissierThe patissier specializes in preparing desserts such as cakes, pastries, ice creams, mousses, custards, etc.
The boucher specializes in butchering meats.
The legumier specializes in preparing vegetables.
The garde manger specializes in cold dishes such as salads and appetizers.
Prep cooks are responsible for prepping ingredients before they are cooked.
The sommelier specializes in selecting wines that pair well with each dish.
The baker specializes in baking breads and pastries.
The cheese steward specializes in selecting cheeses that pair well with each dish.
The butcher's assistant helps with butchering meats.
Pastry cooks specialize in making desserts such as cakes, pastries, ice creams, mousses, custards etc.
Escoffier's kitchen brigade has been an integral part of restaurant kitchens since its creation at the end of 19th century. This hierarchical system ensures that every cook has a clear purpose and that kitchens can operate with maximum efficiency. There are more than 20 different positions within this system ranging from executive chefs to pastry cooks. Understanding these positions can help you better manage your own kitchen staff.