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Five Essential Roles of a Kitchen Staff: Escoffier's Kitchen Brigade

Reina simply loves cooking at home. To develop her cooking skills, she studies online courses on professional cookery.


The kitchen is probably the busiest workplace that you can find yourself in. It employs different types of people to accomplish each specific task. They must work together towards the successful operation of the entire restaurant.

Every kitchen staff has a special role in a professional kitchen. It all depends on their skills and capabilities. The more skills they have, the higher they rank in the hierarchy.

Good kitchen staff is someone who knows his place in the kitchen. You must be familiar with the kitchen department's organizational structure in order to perform your tasks efficiently. Here are five essential roles you need to know in a professional kitchen.


Members of the Kitchen Brigade

Chefs are like gods of the kitchen department. They can make magic with your food. These kitchen staffs have five essential roles in the culinary workplace. Let's get to know these five gods that you will meet in the kitchen.

Executive Chef

He is none other than the head chef. You can call him the master chef or chef de cuisine. He oversees ultimate control of the production and quality of products and services in the kitchen department.

Executive chefs are also employees in a large food establishment like a five-star hotel. However, for small restaurants, the owners usually become the head chef. They plan and make decisions for the entire enterprise.

Sous Chef

Sous is another French term used in the kitchen. It simply means under. Escoffier School of Culinary Arts describes a sous chef as second-in-command to the executive chef. The sous chef falls under the direction of the executive chef.

Some restaurants have several sous chefs and an executive sous chef who supervises them all. They assist the head chef in supervising the operations of the entire kitchen department including human resource management and customer service.

Chef de Partie

While some restaurants may consider chef de partie with the same level as line cooks but they're not actually the same. In a typical five-star hotel, a chef de partie may have several line cooks under him. He is also one of the gods of the grub kingdom.

Chef de Partie in French actually means party leader. In other words, this kitchen staff is the head of a particular section in the kitchen. More than being skilled in a particular type of cuisine, they must also exhibit leadership qualities.

Range Chef

Here are the line cooks. They work under the supervision of the section chef or chef de parties. Professionally referred to as commis, these chefs are responsible for the actual preparation of dishes in their respective stations.

In the Philippines, commis falls into two categories. Commis I is higher in the hierarchy and more superior than commis II. You may work as a commis even when you're still about to complete your culinary training.

Stewards and Porters

They are called kitchen assistants and they have two roles. The steward is called the kitchen hand. Working under the supervision of a chef, they help in basic food preparation. Kitchen porters maintain the cleanliness of the kitchen.

Kitchen assistants need not have any formal training in culinary arts. They will only do menial tasks like peeling potatoes and washing vegetables. Porters are not involved in cooking at all.

While the apprentice has been named part of the kitchen brigade, we shall no longer include them here. Every apprentice is already a chef in the making. All they need is to complete their culinary training and, perhaps a diploma in culinary arts.

Man Behind the Kitchen Hierarchy

The professional kitchen is like an entire kingdom. The duties and responsibilities of the kitchen staff fall under a hierarchy. George Auguste Escoffier created this hierarchy and called it the kitchen brigade. The apprentice is at the bottom rank of the brigade.

Escoffier names ten different sections in the kitchen brigade. Each section is managed by a section chef called the chef de parties. The commis and apprentice fall under his leadership. We shall talk in detail about these sections in another post.

A French Professional Title

When you say chef, it simply means a director of a kitchen. Chef is actually the French word for chief or leader. The term Chef refers to the professional title for the head of the kitchen. It is short for the term chef de cuisine.

A chef is a trained professional. They may hold a degree in culinary arts after receiving formal education in a culinary institution. Although some get training through an apprenticeship program with an experienced chef.

Professional chefs are highly skilled in all facets of food preparation, but they usually specialized in one particular type of cuisine. That is why you will see several chefs in the kitchen department of a five-star hotel.

You may now be wondering. Why do we use so many French terms in the kitchen? Perhaps it is because Escoffier was a French chef. He is commonly known as the king of the grub kingdom. Maybe we should talk about the history of culinary arts in another blog.


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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reina Mendoza

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