What is a Sous Chef: Job Description and Responsibilities

The kitchen staff at a restaurant must include a sous chef. They work closely with the head chef to make sure the kitchen operates properly as they are the second-in-command. The sous chef is in charge of running things on a daily basis while the head chef is in charge of the overall vision for the menu and the kitchen.

Pastry chef plating dessert dish at the Three Star Michelin

In addition to directing the kitchen workers, developing menus, placing ingredient orders, and supervising dish preparation and plating, sous chefs are also responsible for a variety of other duties.

Additionally, they are in charge of making sure that the kitchen complies with health and safety regulations and that every food is cooked to the greatest standard.

Sometimes sous chefs are also in charge of developing new recipes and experimenting with various components to produce distinctive dishes.

Overall, the sous chef is a key player in a restaurant’s success, and the culinary industry highly values their knowledge and abilities.


Sous Chef Definition

A professional cook known as a sous chef serves as the head cook’s deputy in the kitchen’s chain of command.

In the kitchen of Gabriel Kreuther restaurant in Midtown Manhattan

Sous chefs are in charge of overseeing the kitchen workers, preparing food, developing menus, and guaranteeing that the cuisine is of the greatest quality.

The name “sous chef” is derived from the French language and means “under the chef.”

In addition to restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, and catering businesses, sous chefs also work in other environments.

Typically, they are seasoned cooks who rose through the kitchen’s ranks, beginning as line cooks and progressing all the way to sous chef.

Depending on the size and type of kitchen they work in, a sous chef’s responsibilities change.

The management of the kitchen workers, task delegation, and ensuring that all food is produced promptly and to the highest standards are within the purview of sous chefs in large kitchens.

Along with developing menus, coming up with new dishes, and managing the kitchen budget, they collaborate closely with the chief chef.

In smaller kitchens, sous chefs may be in charge of meal preparation, cooking, and staff supervision.

They could also be in charge of placing ingredient orders, controlling inventories, and maintaining the cleanliness and organization of the kitchen.

In general, the sous chef is a crucial member of the kitchen staff who is in charge of making sure that all food is prepared to the highest standards and that everything runs smoothly and effectively in the kitchen.


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

chef cooking traditional Greek cuisine

The executive chef’s assistants are in charge of running the kitchen when they are not there.

They are in charge of making sure the kitchen runs efficiently and to the highest standards.

All food and drink menus must be prepared and designed with the assistance of sous chefs. They must be able to create plates that are both aesthetically pleasing and delicious.

They must be capable of instructing less experienced staff members in various cooking procedures and possess a solid comprehension of them.

Additionally, sous chefs need to be very knowledgeable about sanitation and food safety practices.

In addition to their duties in the kitchen, sous chefs often have management responsibilities. This entails managing inventory, conducting performance evaluations, and setting up worker schedules.

Additionally, they are in charge of placing supply orders, monitoring food costs, and controlling sanitation, stocking, and storage practices.

Overall, the sous chef is essential to a kitchen’s efficiency. They must be able to lead a group of chefs and kitchen employees, as well as operate well under pressure.

Skills and Qualifications

A Sous Chef is a trained culinary expert who is in charge of giving kitchen employees supporting leadership throughout the food service process.

Emma Bengtsson, Swedish chef who holds two Michelin stars

For them to succeed in this position, a wide range of abilities and credentials are required.

The following are some of the most crucial abilities and credentials that a sous chef should possess:

  • Culinary Expertise: A Sous Chef should have a deep understanding of culinary techniques, including cooking, baking, and food preparation. They should have a strong knowledge of different cuisines, ingredients, and cooking methods.
  • Leadership Skills: As a second-in-command in the kitchen, a Sous Chef should have strong leadership skills. They should be able to motivate and manage kitchen staff, delegate tasks, and ensure that everyone is working efficiently and effectively.
  • Communication Skills: A Sous Chef should have excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. They should be able to communicate effectively with kitchen staff, management, and customers.
  • Time Management Skills: A Sous Chef should be able to manage their time effectively, prioritize tasks, and work efficiently under pressure. They should be able to work quickly and accurately, without sacrificing quality.
  • Attention to Detail: A Sous Chef should have a keen eye for detail, ensuring that all dishes are prepared and presented to the highest standards. They should be able to spot any mistakes or errors and take corrective action quickly.
  • Creativity: A Sous Chef should have a creative flair, coming up with new and innovative dishes and recipes. They should be able to experiment with different ingredients and cooking techniques, while still maintaining the highest standards of quality.
  • Physical Stamina: A Sous Chef should have excellent physical stamina, as they will be standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy pots and pans, and working in hot and humid conditions.

A Sous Chef should possess good leadership, communication, time management, and attention to detail abilities in addition to being a talented culinary expert.

They ought to be imaginative, resourceful, and capable of performing well under pressure.

Education and Training

One needs to have a solid foundation in culinary skills in order to become a sous chef.

Sous chef standing in restaurant professional kitchen

Completing a formal culinary arts program at a vocational school, community college, or university is often required for this.

These programs normally range between six months and two years and involve management, sanitation, food preparation, and nutrition education.

Aside from formal education, ambitious sous chefs can also learn on the job or through apprenticeships.

Many dining establishments and lodging establishments provide apprenticeship programs that let people gain the knowledge required to become a sous chef while working under the supervision of seasoned chefs.

After completing their schooling and training, someone can start working in a kitchen as a line cook or in another entry-level position.

They might eventually advance to the post of sous chef depending on their qualifications, background, and work ethic.

Due to their frequent management and training responsibilities, sous chefs must possess good leadership and interpersonal abilities.

To guarantee that all food products are fresh and safe for consumption, they also need to have a solid awareness of food safety and sanitary requirements.

In general, formal schooling, on-the-job training, and real-world experience are needed to become a sous chef.

A person can acquire the abilities required to succeed in the culinary sector as a sous chef with commitment and hard effort.

Career Path

The path to become a sous chef is difficult but rewarding. To get to this position, you must go through a number of processes, including formal education, practical experience, and climbing the culinary career ladder.

happy chef and cheerful african american sous chef

Getting a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from a four-year university or a freestanding culinary arts school with specialized programs is one popular route to become a sous chef.

This degree offers a strong foundation in the culinary arts, including administration of kitchens, food safety, and cooking methods.

An apprenticeship is an additional choice. An apprenticeship may be used instead of or in conjunction with a formal education.

Aspiring sous chefs get the chance to learn from seasoned cooks, develop useful skills, and expand their professional networks through this hands-on training.

An aspiring sous chef often starts their career as a line cook after completing their degree or apprenticeship.

This entry-level job offers useful training in kitchen organization, culinary methods, and food preparation.

They might be promoted to more senior positions like station chef or chef de partie as they gain knowledge and show their abilities.

An experienced line cook might be given the opportunity to advance to sous chef status.

As a sous chef, they will support the head chef by maintaining the inventory, instructing and supervising other cooks and chefs, managing food preparation and cooking, and ensuring that all food items are fresh.

The success of the culinary team is mostly dependent on the sous chefs, who are in charge of preserving the standard and quality of the food served in the establishment.

Overall, formal education, practical experience, and dedication are needed to become a sous chef.

Aspiring sous chefs can succeed in their careers and have a rewarding and demanding career in the culinary arts with commitment and determination.

Frequently Asked Questions

cooking gourmet dish for dinner service at restaurant

What is a sous chef?

A sous chef is a chef who works under the head chef or executive chef in a kitchen. They are responsible for managing the kitchen staff, preparing food, and ensuring that the kitchen runs smoothly. Sous chefs are often considered the second-in-command in the kitchen, and they play an important role in the overall success of the restaurant.

What are the responsibilities of a sous chef?

The responsibilities of a sous chef can vary depending on the restaurant or kitchen they work in, but generally, they are responsible for:
Managing the kitchen staff and ensuring that everyone is working efficiently
Preparing food and ensuring that it is of high quality and presented well
Developing new recipes and menu items
Ordering and managing inventory
Ensuring that the kitchen is clean and meets health and safety standards

What skills are required to become a sous chef?

To become a sous chef, you will need to have a strong foundation in cooking techniques and culinary knowledge. In addition, you will need to have excellent leadership and communication skills, as you will be managing a team of chefs and kitchen staff. Other important skills include:
Time management and organizational skills
Attention to detail
Creativity and the ability to develop new recipes and menu items
The ability to work well under pressure

How can someone become a sous chef?

To become a sous chef, you will typically need to have several years of experience working in a kitchen and a culinary degree or certification. Many sous chefs start out as line cooks and work their way up through the ranks. It is also important to have a strong work ethic and a passion for cooking and the culinary arts.

Can a sous chef become a head chef or executive chef?

Yes, many sous chefs go on to become head chefs or executive chefs. To do so, they will need to continue to develop their culinary skills and gain experience managing a kitchen and a team of chefs and kitchen staff. Some sous chefs may also choose to open their own restaurants and become owners.

chef cooking food for dinner service while adding ingredients to meal


In conclusion, a sous chef is an important member of the kitchen staff at a restaurant.

They support the executive chef by managing the day-to-day operations and supervising the cooks.

They must be adaptable, imaginative, and skilled in the culinary arts.

A talented sous chef maintains cool both on and off the line in a restaurant kitchen. In order to effectively lead and motivate their team, they must possess strong communication and leadership abilities.

In order to maintain a restaurant’s high standards for both cuisine and service, sous chefs are essential.

They are in charge of making sure that every dish is elegantly made and produced to the greatest standards.

They also contribute to the efficient and effective operation of the kitchen, which reduces waste and increases revenue.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality 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.