The heart and soul of your kitchen is your team of chefs. They are the skilled people who assemble your establishment’s dishes with the utmost care and dedication. Most of us don’t get to look behind the counter to appreciate these masters of the culinary arts in action, which is unfortunate because there is so much more that goes into crafting the food on your plate than you may think. For starters, there isn’t just one chef who is responsible for your meal, rather the chances are that every component on your plate from the meat to the salad dressing has been made by a different chef with specific culinary expertise and each of these chefs have their own title and rank.
There is a long tradition associated with this profession that many of us don’t know about and if you want to assemble a well-working team of cooks and chefs for your business, you’ll need to know the difference between a sous chef and an executive chef as well as the difference between a saucier and a station chef. Luckily, we have put together this handy guide so that you can get to know chefs, what they do and, importantly, what they wear to get the job done.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Chefs?
The cook and chef profession is exceptionally diverse with a number of specialties existence. We’ve created a comprehensive list of the most common types of chefs you’ll encounter but remember not all kitchens will have the entire list in employment, for instance, if you’re running a smaller establishment, it might not be necessary to have all the chefs on the list below; however, formalising the responsibilities of your team according to this list will help you organise and manage a successful kitchen.
This the boss of the kitchen. As the team leader, the executive chef does not necessarily do all the cooking, rather his or her job is one of oversight, making sure everything in the kitchen is running smoothly. Their responsibility also involves menu planning and experimenting with new dishes. For this reason, kitchens only have one executive chef.
The sous chef is your executive chef’s right hand and if you have a particularly large kitchen, you may want to employ more than one. Their role in the kitchen is one of micromanaging, making sure every detail of each dish is perfectly prepared and ready for the table.
As the name implies, a pastry chef is in charge of pastries, bread and desserts. Naturally, pastry chefs require special training and will only be needed in your restaurant if you sell lots of baking goods and confectionery. Depending on the nature of your establishment, a pastry chef may assume the role of the executive chef.
A station chef usually only works in one part of the kitchen, for instance, the soup, salad or grill station. They work under the sous chef or executive chef to make sure all the food coming out of their station is of the topmost quality.
A saucier’s sole responsibility is making and preparing sauces. Though it may seem strange to have a person like this in employment, some types of cuisine, particularly French, are all about the sauce. It is the component that pulls all the elements of the dish together, making a saucier absolutely necessary.
Fish, Vegetable And Meat Cook
We grouped these together because each of these cooks specialise in cooking the type of food they are named after. Fish cooks (poissoniers) specialise in seafood, vegetable cooks (entremetier) mostly prepare soups, vegetables, rice and the like, while meat cooks (rotisseurs) are the mastermind of meat.
The pantry chef’s responsibilities include all cold items from salads to cold sauces as well as making sure all dishes look presentable.
The Essentials Of A Professional Chef’s Uniform
A chef’s uniform is instantly recognisable. Normally, a person wearing all white with a double-breasted jacket and a mushroom-shaped hat give it away. But did you know that there are reasons and a pretty interesting history behind these garments?
The traditional professional chef uniform as we know it is because of a well-known mid-19th century French chef called Marie-Antoine Careme. He insisted that chefs must wear white because it symbolises cleanliness – vital in a professional kitchen. Marie-Antoine also created a system of hierarchy for chefs based on their uniform, for instance, the higher one’s hat, the higher your rank. It is rumored that Marie-Antione’s hat was 450mm high and needed cardboard to be kept upright.
These days black has also become a popular colour for chefs as it is more resistant to soiling. But for those traditionalists among us, the professional chef’s uniform has stayed pretty much the same for a very long time and for a good reason. Here’s why:
The Chef’s Hat
The chef’s hat is perhaps the most recognisable item of a professional chef’s uniform. Traditionally, the more pleats the hat has and the higher it stands shows the chef’s seniority, level of knowledge and expertise. Besides indicating the status of the chef, it also serves a practical purpose by preventing hair from falling into food as it’s prepared.
FORAGE BEANIE CHEF HAT
MUSHROOM CHEF HAT
The Chef’s Jacket
Chef jackets are all about functionality. They need to be made from tough, breathable material that insulates the chef from heat and any dangerous splashes. Wearing a long sleeve or short sleeve chef’s jacket comes down to a matter of personal taste. Short sleeves are cooler, while long sleeves are more protecting. Chef’s jackets are also double-breasted and reversible for extra insulation and to quickly flip over should the jacket become stained.
LONGSLEEVE CHEF JACKET
CONTRAST LONG CHEF JACKET
SHORT SLEEVE CHEF JACKET
The Chef’s Pants
Chef’s pants are long and baggy to assist with movement and protect against hot spills. The traditional chef’s trousers feature a two-toned, black and white pattern as it is believed this combination is best at hiding stains and dirt.
BLACK PINSTRIPE CHEF BAGGIES
BLACK CHEF BAGGIES
BLUE CHECK CHEF TROUSERS
The Chef’s Apron
The chef’s apron is not part of a traditional chef’s uniform but these days they have become really popular as an added layer of protection from heat and stains. These aprons typically feature large pockets to enable the safe storage of essential kitchen tools.
FULL-LENGTH BIB APRON
WHITE MAXI APRON
MINI WHITE WAITER APRON
The Chef’s Shoes
The two most important factors to consider when it comes to choosing chef shoes are comfort and safety. Professional chefs are on their feet for most of the day so they need well-fitting shoes that have good shock absorption. For this reason, many chefs love to wear Crocs – the ultimate in comfortable shoewear.
BLACK BISTRO CROCS
Now you’re ready to kit out your kitchen staff with some professional uniforms. Thanks to many years in the industry, Core Catering Supplies has compiled a great variety of chefwear to choose from including jackets, shoes, hats, trousers and more, ensuring your team looks neat, tidy and professional. Browse our collection online or for some personal assistance, contact us today and our experienced staff will help you with anything you may need.