Literally translating ‘under chef’, the French term sous chef means second in command to the executive or head chef within a commercial grade kitchen. The role is both rewarding and challenging. Often dealing with mounting pressure within a fast-paced environment, the sous chef handles immeasurable responsibility in the kitchen, as well as maintaining specialist knowledge of herbs and spices to make their food taste its best.
Although sous chefs do not hold the most dominant stance in the kitchen, they are required to fulfil countless important duties. Responsibilities of the sous chef may include maintenance of kitchen facilities to ensure faultless upkeep of hygiene standards, and management of staff to guarantee all employees are working safely and professionally. The sous chef may also oversee all food that leaves the kitchen to check that everything has been presented correctly on the plate. They could also have a degree of control over the menu, allowing them to get creative with herbs and spices when assisting the development and testing of new recipes.
In order to become a sous chef, formal qualifications secure a strong stance within the running for competitive job opportunities. These courses could take up to 3 years. Recommended qualifications are NVQ, SVQ, Apprenticeship or a college course. With more experience and knowledge, sous chefs can apply for higher positions if they demonstrated their capability through strong performance. Working hours can vary and some chefs work 60+ hours per week including weekends and public holidays. In the UK, sous chefs can expect to earn between £20,000 and £30,000. However, this is dependent on location and experience.
Whether training to become a sous chef or just for fun, cookery courses are a great way to learn new skills. Arguably, the most infamous cookery school is Leiths School of Food and Wine. As reported in tabloid newspapers, Kate Middleton attended a cookery course back in 2014 to learn develop her culinary knowledge over two weeks. Students flock worldwide to attend these courses and many who train professionally at the cookery school go on to work in high end, Michelin-starred restaurants. See more here: https://www.leiths.com/
Other options are the Cookery School, which is based in London and has a variety of sustainable cooking classes. Find out more: https://www.cookeryschool.co.uk/. Another is Rick Stein’s cookery school. We have proudly been endorsed in Rick Stein’s cookbook ‘India’ and we also supply our famous herbs and spices to Stein’s Deli in Cornwall. Naturally, we think that the cookery school is one of the best places to learn new cooking techniques – as well as which herbs and spices are best to cook with! Click here to read more: https://www.rickstein.com/school/.
Even some of the most established and noteworthy chefs have worked their way up the kitchen hierarchy. Anna Jones is a reputable food writer, columnist and chef. Aged 24, Jones worked alongside 14 accomplices at Jamie Oliver’s brainchild ‘Fifteen’. Fifteen was a restaurant chain and training programme that supported young people training to become chefs. Many of these young people came from unprivileged backgrounds. During the course, Jones worked alongside senior staff to gain important knowledge of the business. Subsequently, Jones stayed for 7 years developing new recipe ideas and has since published 2 cookbooks. Conclusively, being second in hand to senior chefs meant that Jones acquired necessary skills to excel within the food industry.