Roles for Kitchen Staff (Including Valuable Skills)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published June 26, 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
There are various roles that professionals wanting to work in a kitchen can pursue. The job titles, responsibilities, and operations of kitchen staff differ based on a restaurant's type, size, and location. If you're considering a career in the restaurant industry, you can benefit from learning more about potential roles and their responsibilities. In this article, we share various kitchen staff roles, highlight some other restaurant roles, and provide some skills that can help you excel in this industry.
Kitchen staff roles
If you're thinking about working in a kitchen, here are seven kitchen staff roles to consider:
National average salary: $15.85 per hour
Primary duties: The dishwasher cleans plates and cutlery. They're responsible for keeping the kitchen sanitary so that the other professionals can perform their tasks. This position only requires on-the-job training.
National average salary: $16.93 per hour
Primary duties: The sous-chef de cuisine reports directly to the chef de cuisine. Typically, they take over management when the chef de cuisine is unavailable. Though many of their tasks are similar to the chef de cuisine, they work more closely with the other stations in the kitchen. They're the intermediary between the chef de cuisine and the rest of the staff.
Read more: How to Become a Sous Chef
National average salary: $16.53 per hour
Primary duties: Kitchen assistants assist the chefs with tasks. For example, they might fetch or prepare ingredients. Typically, they have no formal culinary training and handle miscellaneous tasks, such as cleaning the food prep area, rinsing salad greens, or peeling vegetables.
4. Line cook
National average salary: $17.15 per hour
Primary duties: The line cook, or chef de partie, prepare the food in a specific station in the kitchen. Their job title may differ based on which specific station they work. Here are a few common titles:
Boucher (butcher chef): Prepares meat, poultry, and occasionally seafood before cooking
Friturier (fry chef): Prepares fried food
Garde manger (pantry supervisor): Prepares cold food items, including hors d'oeuvres, charcuterie boards, salads, and buffet display
Grillardin (grill chef): Prepares grilled food
Patissier (pastry chef): Prepares all baked goods and desserts
5. Commis chef
National average salary: $17.74 per hour
Primary duties: The commis chef is the most junior-level chef in a kitchen staff. They work under the chef de partie in a specific station. Their goal is to learn their particular station well and fulfil any tasks assigned by their chef de partie. This role is for recent culinary school graduates.
6. Head chef
National average salary: $20.79 per hour
Primary duties: The head chef, also known as the chef de cuisine, manages the entire kitchen. They're responsible for supervising the staff and maintaining kitchen operations. They work closely with suppliers, ensure items remain stocked, keep track of costs, create menus and recipes, and train staff.
National average salary: $29.30 per hour
Primary duties: The executive chef is the most senior-level staff role. It's primarily a management role. This professional oversees the entire kitchen. Rather than cooking, they often focus on operations, marketing, and public relations. They typically create and update the restaurant's menu.
Other restaurant staff roles
Here are some professionals that work inside a restaurant but outside of the kitchen:
National average salary: $14.97 per hour
Primary duties: A server takes customers' orders and serves them their food and drinks. They can also remove dishes and clean the table. They're the liaison between the kitchen and the customer. Many servers start as hosts until their employers promote them into the role.
National average salary: $15.23 per hour
Primary duties: The bartender is primarily responsible for making drinks. They may also serve the drinks or food if customers are sitting at the bar rather than at a table. Bartenders remember drink recipes and are personable with customers. Many establishments require their bartender to have a license to serve alcohol.
National average salary: $15.56 per hour
Primary duties: A host is the first person customers see when entering a restaurant. Their job is to greet guests and show them to their tables. They may even be in charge of the coat check at high-end restaurants. This is an excellent job for someone interested in working at a restaurant but has little or no experience.
Important skills for kitchen staff
If any of the jobs above sound appealing to you, you might develop some specific skills to work in a kitchen. Here are a few essential skills for kitchen staff, regardless of the role:
Calm under pressure
During mealtimes, the kitchen can get quite hectic. It's essential for the staff to remain calm to prepare food safely and successfully. Most kitchen accidents occur when staff members are rushing to complete orders. Remaining calm under pressure is often more manageable if you're confident in your abilities and familiar with your work setting and coworkers.
The kitchen is a collaborative environment, so it's vital that all staff work well together to ensure they prepare delicious meals promptly. It's essential to give and receive orders politely, even during hectic times. Consider practising communication skills, such as active listening, to communicate with the other staff more effectively. You might suggest team-building exercises, so the team gets to know each other better and learns more about each individual's strengths.
Fine motor skills
As a chef, it's essential to chop, slice, dice, and peel food quickly. It's crucial that you prepare all dishes consistently. You can improve your fine motor skills by practising preparing food at home or playing video games.
Whether you're a chef or a server, it's essential to have a good memory when working in a restaurant. Most staff remember multiple recipes and specific orders. When diners place new orders quickly during busy hours, there's rarely time to reference a recipe. You can improve your memory by memorizing the recipes and practising preparing them.
This skill is vital if you work at a fine restaurant. When diners pay a lot of money for their meals, they often expect the chefs to prepare the dishes in an aesthetically pleasing way. Typically, there's a member of the staff who ensures the meals are ready for delivery to the diners. You can improve this skill by researching meal presentation samples.
Receptive to feedback
It's also crucial that staff is receptive to feedback about their dishes and service to provide customers with the best meal and experience possible. For example, if a specific dish is very popular and other dishes barely sell, a chef might consider changing the menu. All staff can benefit from listening to the feedback from their coworkers. For example, a chef might better explain how to prepare a specific food to a sous chef. By listening, the sous-chef learns how to prepare the dish quicker and more effectively.
It's crucial for staff to remain organized, keeping all the food items, dishes, tools, and cutlery in their designated places. It's also vital for professionals to know how to organize food items safely to avoid cross-contamination. You can learn more about kitchen organization and cross-contamination in various certification courses or in a culinary school.
Planning is essential for the executive and head chefs. It's crucial these professionals know how much food to order, which staff to schedule, and when to prepare for special events. Typically, effective planning requires a collaborative effort from the entire team to ensure all tasks go as planned.
Kitchens can become busy, loud, and hot during popular dining hours, so it's essential to have a positive attitude. The best professionals can view this potentially stressful environment with a sense of humour and treat their coworkers kindly. You might practise reciting positive affirmations to retain a positive attitude even during the busiest hours.
Often, chefs make quick decisions as the kitchen is such a fast-paced workplace. The kitchen might run out of an item, or customers might have strict dietary needs. In these moments, it's essential to consider various options and choose one that you feel is the best.
Every location has a set of health codes. It's crucial the staff understands and complies with these codes to keep customers happy and safe from food-borne illnesses. If you relocate to a new area, consider learning the local health codes before you begin working. Regardless of your location, practise good hygiene by washing your hands with warm water and soap before and after handling food and keeping your workspace clean.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.
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