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Roles Of Restaurant Kitchen Staff

by admin on June 6, 2013

Cooking Staff Job Titles

If you like to eat out, you’re probably familiar with the duties and roles of the dining room staff. The job descriptions of the hostess, server, and even the busboy are easy enough to figure out, because you can see them doing their jobs. But what about the people in the kitchen? What really goes on behind those swinging double doors? Who is top dog? What’s the difference between a Sommelier and a Sous Chef? If you’ve ever wondered, or you’re planning on a career in the restaurant industry, you’ve come to the right place. The following is a list of restaurant job titles, and a description of exactly what they mean.


In the frantic, fast-paced world of the kitchen, the Chef is king. He’s General, and all the people below him are the troops. He will bark out orders, and they must be carried out with speed and precision. If they are not followed immediately and perfectly, people will die. Okay, people won’t die, but their food could turn out sloppy or get served cold. And that’s pretty bad.

While the chef doesn’t necessarily do all of the actual cooking– he does some, but he has far surpassed those basic duties – he does create the entire menu and is responsible for teaching it to the cooks and ensuring that it is executed perfectly, night after night. He also keeps track of the food stock and personally knows every single vendor and supplier that his restaurant uses for its meats, fruits, vegetables, breads, cookware, and appliances (and these are all usually different people for each product). He must know exactly how much of what to replenish and when, and keeps track of the number of orders the restaurant took each day and how much revenue it made… that’s a lot to remember!

Sous Chef

Fancy restaurants will often have a Sous Chef, which is a fancy way of saying “under-chef” or second in command. He’s Robin to the chef’s Batman. He’s there to carry out the chef’s orders, just like everyone else, but he can yell at you, too. He’s largely responsible for line checks, the rotation of product, and all the things that are important, but not crucial.


If you’re dining in a restaurant with a sommelier, I hope you brought your wallet. A sommelier is a fully-trained wine expert, and only the fanciest of places will have need for one. In the dining area he can help pair your dish with the perfect accent drink, but he’s also an important member of the kitchen staff as well. He’s responsible for procuring the right wines, developing the wine list, and ensuring that their storage and rotation will produce the best possible results. If you’re happy with two-buck Chuck (familiar to any Trader Joe’s regular), you don’t need to worry about which Pinot Grigio will find the smoky essence of your albacore. And if you don’t realize that the preceding sentence makes no sense whatsoever, you definitely don’t need to worry.


There’s a significant amount of confusion regarding the difference between a cook and a chef. While many people think that the names are interchangeable, there is actually an important distinction between the duties performed by each. In a nutshell, a chef was once a cook who then worked his way up the totem pole to become the mastermind of the restaurant. The cook, on the other hand, does all of the actual cooking labor and is the absolute unsung hero of the establishment. There are many different types of cooks in a single restaurant, each of which performs a separate duty – one that prepares your salads and soups, one that does appetizers, another that is responsible for grilling your meats, and even one whose sole responsibility is to add those little garnishes and flourishes that make your food look as fabulous as it tastes.


You might think to turn your nose down at the lowly dishwasher, but without him, you’d have nothing to eat your food upon. Don’t believe me? Find a restaurant that’s dealt with a frustrated dishwasher walkout during the rush, and ask them how that worked out for them.

A restaurant is a great microcosm for how a community functions in society. You can see how every role is important in its own way and serves a specific purpose. And when everyone does their job well, not only does society function, but you get a good meal, too.

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