What Does a Sous Chef Do: Roles and Responsibilities Explained

Any kitchen needs a sous chef, who works under the executive chef or chef de cuisine. They are in charge of all daily culinary operations, including developing menus, buying food, and upholding quality standards. A sous chef needs to be well-versed in both cooking methods and food, as well as possess some administrative abilities.

african american sous chef in kitchen

Assisting the head chef in developing menus and recipes is one of the main duties of a sous chef. They are in charge of making sure the kitchen runs well and that all dishes are made to the highest standard.

A sous chef must also be able to oversee and direct a group of kitchen workers, assigning jobs and ensuring that everyone is cooperating efficiently.

A sous chef is responsible for cooking, but they also need to have some managerial abilities. They frequently oversee inventory control, supply ordering, and kitchen cleanliness and organization.

Because kitchens may be hectic and demanding environments, a sous chef needs to be able to perform well under pressure.

In general, a sous chef is essential to the accomplishment of any kitchen or restaurant.


During meal service, a sous chef is in charge of giving kitchen employees supportive leadership.

Multiracial team of cooks cooking by kitchen stove in restaurant

To make sure that the kitchen operates well and that all duties are finished on time, they collaborate closely with the chief chef.

A sous chef’s main tasks include things like:

Menu Planning

Helping the head chef design the meal is one of the main duties of a sous chef.

Master chef in professional kitchen seasoning vegetable

This entails developing fresh recipes, putting tried-and-true ones to the test, and making sure every meal is made to the highest standards.

The sous chef may also be in charge of determining menu item prices and modifying the menu in response to patron comments.


All items prepared in the kitchen must be created and executed by the sous chef.

Cheerful woman spicing soup with pepper

This entails making sure that every component is prepared and cooked to the proper standards, that every dish is decorated properly, and that every meal is served at the appropriate temperature.

Additionally, the sous chef may be in charge of supervising the work of line cooks, prep cooks, and dishwashers in the kitchen.

The sous chef must be well organized and have excellent time management skills to guarantee that all jobs are finished on schedule.

Additionally, they must be able to perform well under pressure and swiftly adjust to changing conditions.

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In conclusion, a sous chef is an essential part of any kitchen staff. They are in charge of helping the head chef plan the menu, preparing the food to the highest standard, and making sure that everything is finished on time.

Sous chefs are essential to the success of any restaurant or food service operation because of their excellent organizational abilities and capacity to perform well under pressure.


A person needs to meet a number of requirements to become a sous chef. A Sous Chef should have a high school education or the equivalent, according to Indeed.

chef tasting gourmet dish while cooking food

The preferred qualification is formal culinary training or an associate degree in culinary arts.

Also preferred are experience in a culinary leadership position and at least 2 to 5 years of cooking experience in a fine dining setting.

In addition to these requirements, a sous chef needs to be very proficient in written and verbal communication.

They must be proficient in speaking with management, kitchen workers, and other chefs. A sous chef needs to be able to multitask and work in a fast-paced atmosphere.

To supervise and instruct other chefs and cooks, they also need to possess strong leadership qualities.

A sous chef needs to be well-versed in sanitation and food safety procedures. They must be knowledgeable about all health laws and guidelines, as well as the correct handling and storage of food.

Additionally, they must be adept with a knife and be able to rapidly and effectively make food.

A sous chef also needs to be creative and have a passion for cooking in addition to these requirements. They must be creative and capable of developing original recipes and menu items.

Additionally, they must be able to perform well under pressure and be flexible in the face of shifting conditions in the kitchen.

In general, a mix of education, experience, and skills are needed to become a sous chef. A sous chef needs to be well-versed in the culinary arts, to be an effective communicator and leader, and to love to cook and be creative.

Work Environment

The setting in which sous chefs work is fast-paced and stressful. In a restaurant, hotel, or other food service company, they frequently work in the kitchen.

Two men chefs sprinkle on beautiful molecular cuisine dish

The task might be physically taxing and the kitchen can be noisy and warm. For the majority of their shift, sous chefs must stand and occasionally lift heavy pots and pans.

Line cooks, prep cooks, and dishwashers are just a few of the members of the kitchen staff that sous chefs frequently collaborate with.

They are in charge of assigning assignments and making sure that everyone collaborates well.

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The head chef or executive chef and the sous chef collaborate closely to create menus, purchase ingredients, and keep track of inventory.

Depending on the size of the kitchen and the sort of company where a sous chef works, their workplace may be different.

The management of a group of additional chefs and cooks may fall within the purview of sous chefs in larger kitchens.

They could be expected to do a greater range of duties in smaller kitchens, including cooking, cleaning, and ordering supplies.

A sous chef works in a fast-paced, demanding, but also rewarding atmosphere. Sous chefs have the chance to learn new skills and methods in the kitchen while working with a great group of chefs and cooks.

Salary and Job Outlook

The wages of sous chefs, who are an integral part of the kitchen staff, vary according to their level of expertise, where they live, and the sort of business they work for.

happy male chef and cook having coffee break and talking

According to Indeed, a sous chef’s annual pay in the United States ranges from $58,690 to $81,915, with some sous chefs making even more.

In premium restaurants, hotels, and resorts, salaries may be higher, whereas those in tiny cafés and diners may be lower.

The U.S. has a promising job market for sous chefs. Chefs and head cooks, including sous chefs, are expected to see an 11% growth rate between 2020 and 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rising popularity of eating out and the development of the food service sector are credited with this growth.

Strong culinary abilities, experience working in busy kitchens, and knowledge of food safety and sanitation are all desirable qualities in a sous chef.

They might have the chance to move up to more senior roles that pay more and have more duties, such as head chef or executive chef.

But a sous-chef’s job can be physically taxing and hectic, requiring them to work long hours, early mornings, late evenings, weekends, and even on holidays.

Sous chefs need to be able to work well under pressure, efficiently manage their time, and communicate with the other members of the kitchen crew.

Overall, for people who are enthusiastic about cooking and love working in a stimulating setting, the position of a sous chef can be gratifying.

Frequently Asked Questions

Another day in life of cafe kitchen crew working on cooking desserts

What are the responsibilities of a sous chef?

Sous chefs have a wide range of responsibilities, including:

1. Preparing food: Sous chefs are responsible for preparing food, including chopping vegetables, seasoning meats, and cooking dishes.
2. Managing kitchen staff: Sous chefs are responsible for managing the kitchen staff, including delegating tasks and ensuring that everyone is working efficiently.
3. Inventory management: Sous chefs must keep track of inventory and ensure that there are enough ingredients on hand to prepare dishes.
4. Menu planning: Sous chefs may be involved in menu planning, including developing new dishes and ensuring that the menu is profitable.
5. Kitchen safety: Sous chefs are responsible for ensuring that the kitchen is safe and that all staff members are following proper safety procedures.

What skills does a sous chef need?

Sous chefs must have a wide range of skills, including:

1. Cooking skills: Sous chefs must have excellent cooking skills, including knowledge of cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavor profiles.
2. Management skills: Sous chefs must be able to manage a team of kitchen staff, including delegating tasks and ensuring that everyone is working efficiently.
3. Organizational skills: Sous chefs must be highly organized, with the ability to keep track of inventory, prepare schedules, and manage multiple tasks at once.
4. Communication skills: Sous chefs must be able to communicate effectively with kitchen staff, head chefs, and other members of the restaurant team.
5. Problem-solving skills: Sous chefs must be able to think quickly and solve problems as they arise in the kitchen.

Can a sous chef become a head chef?

Yes, many sous chefs go on to become head chefs. To become a head chef, a sous chef must have many years of experience in the kitchen, excellent cooking skills, and strong management skills. They must also be able to develop new dishes and menus, manage inventory and costs, and ensure that the kitchen is running efficiently.

chef cook with knife chopping carrot


A sous chef is a crucial component of any professional kitchen, to sum up. They are in charge of overseeing the kitchen personnel, cooking, setting up the line, and plating meals. They report directly to the head chef.

A sous chef needs to possess some managerial abilities in addition to in-depth knowledge of food and culinary procedures.

In addition to developing meals and handling inventory, sous chefs are also in charge of keeping the kitchen spotless and well-organized.

To make sure that the kitchen operates efficiently and that the food is produced to the highest standards, they must also collaborate closely with the head chef.

One needs a lot of professional kitchen experience and in-depth understanding of cooking methods and ingredients to succeed as a sous chef.

Since they are in charge of overseeing and teaching the kitchen personnel, sous chefs must also possess good leadership and communication abilities.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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