The term 'sous chef' translates to 'under chef' and their role in the kitchen is just that: they are second-in-command. The sous chef is responsible for the day-to-day running of the kitchen, particularly in high-end restaurants where the head chef may be required outside of the kitchen. Sous chefs must plan and direct how the food is presented on the plate, keep the kitchen staff in order, train new chefs, create the work schedule and ensure the highest culinary quality at all times. The sous chef may also need to effectively discipline under performing staff, as well as providing incentives to go above and beyond the expectations of their particular chef roles.
Another part of a sous chef's duties are administrative, sometimes taking up to a quarter of their work.
Most sous chefs get to their positions through training and experience and possess an abundance of culinary expertise. They must also possess the ability to quickly and authoritatively delegate jobs to a large staff. As a sous chef, you are required to play the mentor role to younger chefs as well as ensuring culinary excellence at all times.
Kevin Bonus, sous chef at Michelin star restaurant Pied a Terre, said of his recent promotion: "It was quite daunting and I remember some hard nights and some services that were incredibly tough. When you take the step up it's also a step up in expectations.
"One minute you're a senior chef de partie where everything you do is fine and you're not being picked up on anything then suddenly you're expected to do so much more." Kevin added: "That was the hardest part, having to keep an eye everyone else and then find enough time to put into my own work."
Famous chefs may put their names on the door of their restaurant, but it is often their head chefs and sous chefs who really deserve the credit when it comes to the day to day cooking. Richard McLellan is sous chef at Alyn Williams at The Westbury in Mayfair. He told us what it was like when he first worked as Alyn's sous chef.
He said: "It was extremely exciting and it taught me a huge amount because of the size of the brigade, and because Alyn has allowed me the opportunity to develop myself."
Being a sous chef is immensely exciting. The job opens doors and allows chefs to express themselves in the kitchen like never before. It is also one of the higher paying chef jobs with average salaries ranging from £20,000 to £35,000 p.a.
Like most kitchens, salaries vary enormously depending on the experience and location of the person filling the job. Nevertheless, working as a sous chef is one of the most highly respected positions in the industry.