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Want to know how the professionals do it? Below are some tips and tricks of the trade to help you improve your basic knowledge. A chef is a highly trained and skilled professional cook who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation of a particular cuisine. The word "chef" is derived (and shortened) from the term chef de cuisine, the director or head of a kitchen. Chefs can receive both formal training from an institution, as well as through apprenticeship with an experienced chef.
There are different terms that use the word chef in their titles, and deal with specific areas of food preparation, such as the sous chef, who acts as the second in command in a kitchen or the chef de partie, who handles a specific area of production. The brigade system is a system of hierarchy found in restaurants and hotels employing extensive staff, many of which use the word chef in their titles. Underneath the chefs are the kitchen assistants. A chef's standard uniform includes a hat called a toque, necktie, double-breasted jacket, apron and shoes with steel or plastic toe-caps.
In English, the title "chef" in the culinary profession originated in the haute cuisine of the 19th century. The culinary arts, among other aspects of the French language introduced French loan-words into the English language.
Various titles, detailed below, are given to those working in a professional kitchen and each can be considered a title for a type of chef. Many of the titles are based on the brigade de cuisine or brigade system documented by Auguste Escoffier, while others have a more general meaning depending on the individual kitchen. Other names include executive chef, chef manager, head chef and master chef/executive chef. This person is in charge of all activities related to the kitchen, which usually includes menu creation, management of kitchen staff, ordering and purchasing of inventory, and plating design. Chef de cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef is derived. Head chef is often used to designate someone with the same duties as an executive chef, but there is usually someone in charge of a head chef, possibly making the larger executive decisions such as direction of menu, final authority in staff management decisions, and so on. This is often the case for executive chefs with multiple restaurants. Involved in checking the sensory evaluation of dishes after preparation and they are well aware of each sensory property of those specific dishes.
The sous chef de cuisine is the second in command and direct assistant of the chef de cuisine. This person may be responsible for scheduling the kitchen staff, or substituting when the head chef is off-duty. Also, he or she will fill in for or assist the chef de partie (line cook) when needed. This person is accountable for the kitchen's inventory, cleanliness, organization and the continuing training of its entire staff. A sous chef's duties can also include carrying out the head chef's directives, conducting line checks, and overseeing the timely rotation of all food products. Smaller operations may not have a sous chef, while larger operations may have more than one. The sous chef is also responsible when the executive chef is absent.
A chef de partie, also known as a "station chef" or "line cook" is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several cooks or assistants. In most kitchens, however, the chef de partie is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with "first cook" then "second cook" and so on as needed. A commis is a basic chef in larger kitchens who works under a chef de partie to learn the station's or range's responsibilities and operation. This may be a chef who has recently completed formal culinary training or is still undergoing training.