Sous Chef: Job Duties, Employment Outlook and Training Requirements

Sous chefs help prepare and cook simple foods for the head chef in restaurants and other eating establishments. Learn about job duties, training requirements, optional certifications and career outlook. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Sous Chef Do?

The highest ranked chef in a restaurant is an executive or head chef. The sous (a French word meaning 'under') chef is the second-in-command. As a sous chef, your duties may include preparing ingredients for the head cook or chef. You might cut up fruits and vegetables, mix spices, prepare meats and other tasks. You could also prepare simple dishes for patrons. Additionally, the sous may be responsible for keeping the kitchen properly stocked with food and utensils and cleaning up each day.

What is the Employment Outlook?

According the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment is expected to be good, about six percent, even though employment growth is down slightly (www.bls.gov). This growth is credited to workers who leave the occupation. Chefs typically have high turnover rates due to the amount of time and energy required for the job. Additionally, sous chefs that work at upscale eating establishments will encounter stronger competition than occupations in lower-level restaurants.

What Training Do I Need?

You have a few options when selecting a training program, although most sous chefs learn through on-the-job training, internships and apprenticeships. Prior work experience is often the major contributing factor toward full-time employment, and you'll want to choose an option that helps you acquire experience. A typical culinary arts apprenticeship program involves hands-on experience where you'll cook and prepare food under an expert chef. This work experience may be paid in some programs.

Alternatively, high schools and technical colleges often offer classes, certificate programs and degrees in food preparation or other suitable areas. As a student in one of these programs, you might take a culinary food preparation program with courses in catering, banquets, baking, food safety and sanitation.

Certification may prove beneficial if you're a sous chef interested in working for more upscale restaurants. The American Culinary Federation offers one certification often preferred by employers. This certificate allows chefs, regardless of specialty, to showcase their cooking, nutrition, sanitary and food preparation skills against the industry benchmarks.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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