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How to Become a Sous Chef in a Restaurant

Sep 7, 2017 | Harrison College

How to Become a Sous Chef in a Restaurant

Cooking food and getting paid..what could be better? Sous chefs know how to get it right and in style.

Sous chef is probably one of the most sought after job in the culinary industry. This position is second in hierarchy after head chef, which means the person in charge must be familiar with all the activities of a kitchen and can do them in a pinch. 

Due to its importance, the job is highly demanding and comes with high recognition among culinary students and the industry as a whole.

In fact, obtaining a sous chef position is often viewed as a hallmark level of achievement for culinary students. 

But how do you become a sous chef? Before we get to that, let's first touch on the scope of their duties.

Sous Chef Job Description 

Since sous chefs work under the supervision of head chefs, the scope of their work encompasses many kitchen functions.

An assistant chef will prepare and cook food and knows all the cooking styles done in that kitchen, including Italian, French and fusion cooking

As the second in command, the sous chef is also responsible for overseeing and managing the junior kitchen staff. Their typical day to day duties may include:

  • Overseeing the preparation and cooking of food
  • Creating recipes and writing menus
  • Stock ordering and management of supplies
  • Managing banquets and outside catering
  • Kitchen equipment maintenance
  • Staff supervision and scheduling
  • Training junior chefs, line cooks, and other kitchen workers
  • Food cost control
  • Conducting food tastings 
  • Ensuring effective sanitation and hygiene

As head chefs move on or are promoted to directorship positions, sous chefs often step in and take up the executive chef roles. 

How to Become a Sous Chef

Based on the duties highlighted above, it is clear that a sous chef is not an entry level position. For workers who want to climb the ladder, on-the-job experience is required. 

You'll also need some professional training to showcase your culinary prowess. Here's a guideline on how to become a professional chef in 5 easy steps.

Step 1: Finish High School

Finishing high school is the first step to becoming a professional chef.

If your dream career is to become a chef, consider taking electives in cooking, sanitation, health, chemistry and business. It's also advisable to shadow a chef so you can learn more about what they do, and how their typical day looks like.

Step 2: Enroll in a Professional Training Program

The next step would be to enroll and complete a professional training program. There are several training programs for chefs available in culinary schools that run for 1-2 years.

These courses will train you more about nutrition, menu planning, knife skills and other skills to run a restaurant.

Step 3: Complete an Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship program can work instead of or addition to formal training. 

The American Culinary Federation (ACF), for instance, offers paid apprenticeship programs that help culinary students apply classroom instructions in real life.

Step 4: Obtain Certification

The American Culinary Federation awards a Certified Sous Chef designation to those who meet the education and experience requirements for the job.

Though certification is not a must, acquiring one shows your level of professionalism and can help you get a job easily.

Getting professional certification also doubles your chances of climbing the ladder to a head chef when opportunity knocks.

Step 5: Get a Job

Though competition in some of the top hotels might be fierce, in the end, it all boils down to your education and experience.

And once you get the job, you can later advance to a head chef, instructor or even open your own restaurant.

Think You Have What It Takes to Become a Sous Chef?

Becoming a professional chef doesn't happen overnight. It's about climbing up the culinary ranks. 

By learning from successful chefs, and augmenting your experience with a professional certification, you'll have the complete package that employers want to see.

If you are ready to take the first step towards becoming a professional chef, get in touch with us to learn more about our culinary arts program.

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