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Bringing homage to the unsung heroes of the kitchen


At a restaurant we often hear customers say ’Compliments to the Chef”, but which chef do they mean exactly? Each year on October 20th we celebrate International Chefs Day, and we therefore bring homage to the unsung heroes of the kitchen.


Let’s look at some of the roles in the kitchen hierarchy. Every kitchen is different, but these are some of the most common positions found in the kitchen.


  1. Chef de Cuisine (Executive Chef) Pronunciation: shef duhkwee-zeen The Executive Chef is the highest ranked in the kitchen and oversees the entire kitchen. An Executive Chef is usually not part of the cooking team but oversees all operations, including creating menu items and reviewing the taste and presentation of the food where he might add a finishing touch such as a drizzle of balsamic or a swirl of cream. The Executive Chef is one of the most highly respected and converted positions in the kitchen. It is also one of the hardest statuses to achieve.


  1. Sous Chef (Deputy Chef) pronunciation: soo-shef The Sous Chef is more involved and is second in command in the kitchen. They oversee all of the other chefs in the kitchen, creating staff schedules, handling inventory, enforcing safety standers, and being ready to step into any station if needed. The Sous Chef ensures that all the other chefs in the kitchen have all the necessary ingredients and tools required to accomplish the orders. As “heir apparent” to the executive chef, the Sous Chef is responsible for supporting him or her, always and play a crucial role in the kitchen.

  2. Chef de Partie (Senior Chef) pronunciation: shef de party A Chef de Partie runs a specific section in a kitchen, and reports to the Sous Chef. The role is made up of many different responsibilities which include the preparation, cooking, and presenting of high-quality dishes within the specialty section, some chefs just cook certain dishes better than others!


  1. Grande Manger (Pantry Chef) pronunciation: gard man-ger This chef’s role is for preparing chilled dishes like hors d’oeuvres, salads, charcuterie boards, and pâtés to name a few. The Pantry Chef must have a blend of culinary expertise, creativity in food arrangement and food carving, and expert food handling abilities.

  2. Entremetier (Vegetable Chef) pronunciation: en-tre-me-tier The aim of the Vegetable Chef is to efficiently prepare vegetable dishes as well as the sauces to accompany them. This chef works alongside the Potager Chef who makes soups at the entremetier station.

  3. Potager Chef (Soup Chef) pronunciation: po-ta-za A soup chef whips up those delightful and tempting soups you see on the menu. The soup chef takes on the role if a kitchen does not have a prep cook. This means washing, peeling, chopping, and preparing all the vegetables and components needed for the soup or stock being made for the day.

  4. Boucher (Butcher Chef) pronunciation: boo-shey Better known as the meat master of the kitchen, the Boucher takes care of all the meat requirements of the other chefs, be it chopped, cubed, or fileted. The Boucher has excellent knife skills.

  5. Poissonnier (Fish Chef) pronunciation: pwa-so-nje This chef is a fish fundi and knows which fish is in season and procures the best and freshest from the vendors. The Poissonnier prepares all fish-related dishes along with accentuating sauces and sides.

  6. Rotisseur (Meat Chef) pronunciation: ro-tis-seur This chef, is an oven professional and knows how to roast food to perfection to bring out the most flavour. The Meat Chef thrives on the Boucher's exceptional meat work and selects the best meat to offer the customer an unforgettable dining experience.


  1. Grillardin (Grill Chef) pronunciation : grul-lar-din As the name suggests, the grill chef prepares all the grilled-related foods. As the food is often meat, this position is sometimes combined with the meat chef's duties.

  2. Friturier (Fry Chef) pronunciation : fri-tu-rier The Fry Chef is found, you guessed it, next to the fryer. The Friturier, more commonly known as the fry chef, handles any foods, such as meat, seafood, etc., that must be cooked in oils or other animal fats. All preparations are done beforehand to ensure foods are perfectly breaded and dried before the Fry Chef can make the oil do its magic!

  3. Patissier (Pastry Chef) pronunciation: pa-ti-sje Pastry chefs, also known as dessert chefs, are responsible for creating decoration, and the presentation of an assortment of mouthwatering desserts, including pastries, cookies, and other delicatessens. A Patissier usually attends culinary school specifically for this craft. Food presentation and intricate plating are often skills required or expected from pastry chefs.

  4. Saucier (Sauce Chef) pronunciation: so-sje As the third-in-command, The Saucier creates the sauces for every item on the menu. In addition to preparing sauces, the saucier also prepares stews, hot hors d'œuvres, and sautés food to order. As the sauce is generally the last element to be placed on the plate, the Saucier also assesses the final presentation before being served.

  5. Expediter pronunciation : ex-pe-d-itor While not a chef per se, expediters are just as vital as any chef. The expediter sets that rhythm, managing the workflow of the kitchen like an air traffic controller, checking to make sure that the customer’s requirements are met. In smaller kitchens, this is done by the Executive Chef.

  6. Tournant Chef (Relief Chef) pronunciation: toor-nahnt A Chef Tournant’s job involves stepping in when needed to complete a variety of culinary duties such as sautéing, frying, dicing, blending, and boiling food. The primary responsibilities are to ensure all communication, standards, policies are in place.

  7. Line Cook Line cooks serve as the backbone of the operation and are one of the first steps into the culinary industry. A well-trained Line Cook is a skilled and versatile professional, executing a wide range of duties with a high level of consistency and working on the “line” to prepare food orders.

  8. Prep Cook Preparation in a kitchen is everything and the Prep Cook takes this to heart. Prep cooks are tasked with preparing all the ingredients that'll eventually be turned into dishes by the line cooks, and that means portioning meat, poultry, fish, and seafood; shredding or slicing cheese; preparing sauces and dressings; chopping and slicing produce; and labeling, dating, and storing everything in the fridge.



Are you interested in a career in the hospitality industry? If you have a love for food and have considered becoming a chef, you will need the right education to get there. Earning a Professional Chefs Diploma at Steyn’s Culinary School could be the first step in your culinary journey. For more information about our classes and programs, contact us. Email: info@steynsculinaryschool.co.za. WhatsApp: 072 645 5167

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