Chef De Cuisine Job Description
Chefs de Cuisine oversee kitchen operations in commercial and private kitchens. This role balances excellent cooking skills with managerial decision-making and team leadership, making it a great role for an experienced and accomplished kitchen professional. A chef de cuisine may make key decisions about menu items, ingredients, and even personnel within a restaurant’s kitchen.
Chefs de cuisine are frequently the highest-ranking chefs within a kitchen, and as a result play an important role in menu development, food preparation and presentation, and kitchen operations. This is a fast-paced role that requires the chef de cuisine to constantly balance providing a high level of customer satisfaction with keeping the kitchen moving efficiently.
Chef De Cuisine Duties and Responsibilities
The specific duties of chefs de cuisine can vary depending on the type of restaurant or kitchen they work in, but many of the core duties are consistent with this position:
Coordinate Meal Preparation
The foremost duty of chefs de cuisine is coordinating meal preparation and service activities within the kitchen. They review customer orders as they come in, assign tasks to sous chefs and prep cooks, and ensure that food is delivered on time. Chefs de cuisine direct both kitchen and restaurant staff on proper procedures and assign responsibility for various meal elements.
Oversee Food Quality
Chefs de cuisine also maintain the restaurant’s quality and reputation by monitoring the food that is served to customers. They may inspect plates to ensure that meals are correctly portioned and presented. Chefs de cuisine also taste food and oversee kitchen staff throughout the cooking process, checking to make sure that elements of dishes are properly cooked and seasoned.
These leaders also make key decisions regarding a restaurant’s menu items and offerings. They prepare menus weeks or months in advance based on customer demand, seasonal ingredient availability, and special events. Chefs de cuisine may collaborate with restaurant owners or an executive chef to discuss menu options and develop creative dishes throughout the year.
Select and Source Ingredients
Chefs de cuisine also support restaurant operations by selecting and sourcing ingredients for meals. They may work directly with farmers and suppliers to order fresh vegetables and meats and may change menus based on the availability and quality of ingredients. This aspect of the role also requires excellent budgetary and financial management skills, as chefs de cuisine need to balance ingredient quality with costs and concerns for the restaurant’s profitability.
Maintain Kitchen Cleanliness and Safety
As part of their kitchen leadership role, chefs de cuisine also maintain kitchen cleanliness and safety. This can involve developing or enhancing processes for food safety and storage as well as maintaining or replacing kitchen equipment that is not working as expected. Many chefs de cuisine also prepare safety and cleanliness guidelines for kitchen staff and inspect employees’ uniforms to ensure that they adhere to strict standards of professionalism.
Respond to Customer Concerns
Many chefs de cuisine interface directly with customers to resolve complaints and other issues that may arise during the course of food service. In this aspect of the role, the chef de cuisine may handle customers who were displeased with some part of their meal and make efforts to correct any issue with kitchen or restaurant staff to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the visit.
Chef De Cuisine Skills and Qualifications
Chefs de cuisine are kitchen leaders who balance extensive food preparation experience with leadership and management roles. Restaurants tend to hire chefs de cuisine with several years of kitchen experience and the following skills:
- Food Preparation Skills – Chefs de cuisine are kitchen experts who successfully prepare a wide variety of meals and dishes on time and with a high level of quality and presentation
- Menu Development – Because they often help develop a restaurant’s menu, chefs de cuisine have experience with creating new dishes and changing items based on ingredient availability and quality
- Team Leadership – Chefs de cuisine coordinate the activities of both kitchen and restaurant staff, so they are effective leaders who delegate tasks and oversee many employees
- Budgeting Skills – While making decisions regarding ingredient sourcing and purchasing, chefs de cuisine need to employ significant budgeting and financial management skills to ensure profitability
- Communication Skills – This role also requires excellent written and verbal communication to work with customers and kitchen staff as well as to prepare employee handbooks
Chef De Cuisine Education and Training
Chefs de cuisine are experienced cooks or sous chefs, and most kitchens look for individuals with at least six or seven years of food preparation experience for this role. While there are no formal education requirements, chefs de cuisine can increase their job prospects by attending culinary school and achieving certification as executive chefs through the American Culinary Federation.
Chef De Cuisine Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that chefs de cuisine, categorized under “Chefs and Head Cooks,” earned an average annual salary of $43,180 as of May 2016. The highest-paid 10 percent of chefs and head cooks earned over $76,280 per year, while the lowest-paid workers in this role earned less than $23,630 annually.
The BLS estimates that chef and head cook employment will grow 10 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is slightly higher than average.
If you’d like to learn more about a career as a chef de cuisine, check out the following resources for further reading and information:
American Culinary Federation (ACF) – The ACF provides a certification program for executive chefs as well as professional development resources and events for culinary professionals.
How to Become a Chef: The Essential Guide for Becoming a Chef and Building a Successful Culinary Career – This book by Brandon Fiore provides tips and advice for new cooks, particularly focusing on how to sustain a career in this field.
“Kitchen Hierarchy – The Different Chef Titles Explained” – This helpful article explores and clarifies kitchen leadership roles and responsibilities, including chefs de cuisine and executive chefs.
So You Want to Be a Chef?: Your Guide to Culinary Careers – Read about careers in the culinary industry, including how to build a successful career as a chef de cuisine, with this guide from authors Lisa M. Brefere, Karen E. Drummond, and Brad Barnes.
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