Chefs or cooks work in the kitchen of all kinds of catering establishments, from bars to cruise ships, through educational centers and prisons. Their duties vary based on their knowledge, their specialty, and their position in the kitchen.
In general, the functions of a chef consist of:
- Menu planning and preparation of dishes. Menu planning and food shopping is usually done by the chef de cuisine. Lower-ranking cooks, specifically apprentices or assistants, are primarily engaged in the preparation of food prior to cooking, as well as tasks such as cleaning floors and emptying garbage containers. In a small kitchen, where there are only one or two cooks, they are the ones who must do all the food preparation and then cook the different dishes, from starters to desserts.
- Manage the team and the distribution of tasks. In some kitchens (for example, in a small bar), the cook may work alone or with the help of one or two people. However, there are other kitchens (for example, in hotels) the cook could have dozens of employees and a number of specialized chefs who work under the orders of a chef.
- Manage the cooking time and food preparation. Cooking a dish can take between a few minutes or a few hours, so time management and teamwork are essential, some of the tasks they perform are more routine than others.
- Perform administrative tasks. Senior cooks oversee the work of their team and can engage in other tasks such as accounting and budgeting, managing worker training, and stock control.
- Update menus and keep up to date on culinary trends and techniques. Cooks must be well trained in culinary techniques and retrain to suit customer needs. One of its functions is to keep up to date on current trends, gastronomic fashions and the nutritional qualities of food, to develop menus that attract customers.
- Maintain and follow strict health, hygiene and food safety standards.
exist different types and levels of chef. In a large kitchen you can find:
- A pastry chef (pastry cook).
- A chef saucier (cook of the sauces and main dishes).
- A chef poissonier (fish cook).
- A chef entremétier (vegetable cook).
The functions of each cook depend on their specialization. For example, a fish chef, in addition to knowing the culinary techniques of his specialty, is in charge of ordering fish, checking deliveries and preparing it for cooking.
In addition, cooks can be specifically trained to work in restaurants with vegetarian cuisine, exotic gastronomy (such as Thai or Indian kitchens).
In the kitchen there are different degrees of responsibility. There is the kitchen helper, the cook, the subchef (assistant chef / second chef) and the kitchen chef. There are also proprietary chefs, who own their own restaurants.