In order to run successfully, kitchens have to have a strict hierarchy. While assignments differ based on the needs of the kitchen, in most upscale restaurants the roles are determined by the French “Brigade System.”
Typical roles begin at the top with Executive Chef, followed by Sous Chef, followed again by Senior Chef. Other chefs might be in charge of specific areas like grilled foods, sauces, fried foods, or fish.
Within the brigade system, there are ten primary stations. Smaller outlets often combine one or more stations together, assigning them to a single chef, maximising efficiency. Larger places might have additional stations to distinguish individual specialisations at each larger station.
A saucier, sauce chef, is often the most respected role in the kitchen, reporting directly to the head chef or sous-chef. The saucier is responsible for sautéing foods and preparing soups and stews. But their most vital role obviously lies in creating sauces and gravies.
The poissonnier, fish chef, prepares all fish dishes. This can include acquiring fresh fish on a daily basis, and sourcing non-local catches, as needed, to supplement the menu. The poissonnier often prepares sauces that accompany fish, in the absence of a saucier. S/he produces fish stocks and soups too.
The rotisseur, roast chef, prepares roasted or braised meats. They may also be in charge of obtaining meats from local suppliers or arranging meat deliveries. Cooking styles often focus on cooking meat very slowlyto hold in as much flavour as possible. Many meats are also braised, which involves searing the outside of the meat to lock in moisture, and then cooking it to bring out the flavour, and obtain a tender cut.
The grillardin, looks after foods that must be grilled. This can include meats, poultry, or vegetables.
Frituriers, or fry cooks, handle any foods cooked in oils or animal fats.
The entremetier station is where you’ll find the vegetable chef. Larger restaurants or hotels often have two chefs on the entremetier station. A potager chef makes soups, while a legumier chef prepares vegetable dishes.
A tournant is an all-purpose chef who moves from station to station, assisting with any tasks, as needed. The tournant, along with his commis, must have a broad knowledge of the basic operations of each station, allowing him to step in when another station member is absent or workload increases.
The garde manger, also known as the pantry chef, is in charge of most cold dishes on the menu. This includes various salads and cold appetizers, such as pate, cheese spreads, or even tartars. The garde manger also carves and molds vegetables and fruit for presentation purposes. Those brunches we all attend often include the work of expert garde mangers.
The boucher, butcher, prepares meats, poultry, (and often fish and seafood), before delivery to their respective stations for preparation in dishes.
A patissier, pastry chef, is often one of the most beloved of all the station chefs, particularly for the dishes he is charged with preparing: baked goods, such as breads and pastries. Elaborate desserts, chocolates and petit fors underline the artistic discipline of the patissier.