The moment you step into any restaurant, you are welcomed by the delectable aroma of food. The way in which food and drinks are served, with garnish and decoration, is a cynosure to the eyes as well as a treat to the taste buds. The credit for this goes to the chefs in the kitchen who toil hard, in sync, to dole out mouth-watering delicacies. It is quite interesting to note that there are different types of chefs who work in one kitchen. These chefs are assigned different jobs, right from preparing recipes to delivering them and cleaning the kitchen post work. Among them, the commis chef is the one who works as an apprentice or novice under the Chef de cuisine.
The definition of a commis chef can be stated as 'a basic chef in larger kitchens who works under a chef de partie to learn the station's responsibilities and operation'. For becoming a chef, a degree from a culinary institute is required. There are several community colleges and universities that offer a four-year degree course in culinary education. A bachelor's degree, an associate degree, or even a professional certificate in culinary arts will earn you the position of a commis chef in any restaurant. A commis chef can draw a salary of about $20,000 - $25,000 on an annual basis. In the following paragraphs let us see what a commis chef does.
Commis Chef Job Description
Working at the entry-level, a commis chef has to perform a number of duties in the kitchen. Right from assisting the chef de partie (head chef) and other chefs in preparing food, to clearing the kitchen post cooking, the commis chef has several tasks to perform. To become a successful chef, one has to be a fast learner and should know how to implement and develop his basic culinary and other skills. Mentioned below are some of the responsibilities which a commis chef has to undertake.
- Since a commis chef is an apprentice in the kitchen, the main focus should be on learning how the kitchen brigade functions. He will be expected to assist the other chefs in preparing the food and making it presentable to the diners.
- Daily training on the jobs in different sections of the kitchen like checking orders, preparing basic recipes and assisting senior members of the team is given to the commis chef. This is done in order to improve the skill base and knowledge regarding the working environment.
- Another important aspect is communication with other chefs in the kitchen. As a junior chef, he will receive instructions and constructive criticism, regarding his performance and skills, from the seniors. He must learn to communicate with chefs and other members in the kitchen and carry out orders.
- Since the role of a commis chef requires you to carry out simultaneous orders in a brief time-span, while working in a high-stress environment, the novice must be an expert in multi-tasking, without losing his cool. Making decisions, in spite of being the junior kitchen staff, regarding the quality of food produced is also another important role of a commis chef.
- One of the chief duties of a commis chef is chopping different ingredients. He may have to chop an assortment of vegetables, fruits and meats, keep them handy, and also assist in preparing the dishes, as per the demand of the chef-in-charge, For this, a commis chef has to work way before the restaurant opens for business.
- Once the chopping is done, the next task is to set up the different ingredients. Referred to as mise en place, the commis chef has to organize and arrange the ingredients like freshly chopped vegetables, meat cuts, par-cooked items, condiments, seasonings, sauces and relishes etc., accordingly. Equipment required for cooking is also laid out for the chef, so that he does not have to take time and assemble items for the recipes.
- Commis chefs are sometimes expected to prepare simple dishes like salads, soups, and sauces. Assisting the head chef in cooking recipes and carrying out other duties as required is also done by the commis chef. After the recipes are prepared, the commis chef makes sure the food looks aesthetically presentable and attractive, before it is delivered to the customers. A final arrangement, according to the head chef's specification, of the dishes is taken care of by the chef.
- In some restaurants, commis chefs have to receive deliveries from the customers and see to it that they are assigned to the specific chefs. He also ensures that the orders are delivered to the respective diners and that the food is fresh and of good quality.
- Maintaining a record of stocks and inventory management is also another responsibility of the commis chef. He has to keep a check on the ingredients in the restaurant and also place an order, if there is shortage of a particular ingredient.
- Cleaning the kitchen is also a task that is performed by these chefs. The commis chef may have to wash and arrange dishes, mop spills, and clean the kitchen stoves, once all the cooking is over (usually after the restaurant closes). He should also maintain safety and hygiene standards of the restaurant. It is his duty to make sure the restaurant is in compliance with the health, hygiene and safety codes, as prescribed by the local law.
This was a brief overview on the job description of a commis chef. Though the work of a commis chef can be a bit tiring, it is a rewarding and satisfying career. You can also select the kitchen section where you would like to work, to specialize in your area of interest. So if you want to sharpen your culinary skills, you know which career to choose.