What Does A Chef Do?

"I know that cooking is the chef’s main job task. But this is probably a very simplistic way of looking at his responsibilities. Can you please provide me with more information on what chefs do?"

asked by Raphael O. from Virginia Beach, Virginia

There is no question that kitchens are the domains of chefs. They oversee the day-to-day food preparation of restaurants and other eating places. As the boss in the kitchen, they orchestrate the movements of the cooks and other kitchen staff and handle concerns that customers may have against the quality or taste of the food being prepared.

Contrary to what is commonly believed, the job of a chef isn’t only focused on the aspect of food preparation. Even before the restaurant doors start to open for business, chefs are already hard at work.

For instance, they see to it that the work area is clean and that all the equipment is ready for use. It’s very important that the supplies and food ingredients are complete so chefs inspect that the pantries and refrigerators are well-stocked. If it isn’t or if a particular supply is running out, they place their orders to their suppliers. When the orders arrive, they see to it that these are fresh and fit for consumption.

Chefs have to come up with recipes for their customers. While they may have their everyday staples, preparing the menu is an on-going and dynamic process. The food business can be fiercely competitive and they have to innovate so they can offer customers something new and stay on the map as far as customers’ palates are concerned.

In the course of the restaurant’s regular operations, chefs see to it that everyone in the kitchen do their jobs. They ensure that their cooks make the food according to their instructions and that the serving sizes are uniform. They also see to it that everyone follows set sanitation and safety standards in the kitchen. Ensuring that everyone observes safety standards is very important as the kitchen can be a very dangerous place with all the stoves, knives and other implements that can cause fire or injure the workers.

Chefs may also assume the role of a human resources manager, especially if they own the business. They hire and train cooks and other food preparation personnel. They have to give the proper training to their cooks and make recipe standards clear to them so that what is served to one customer is the same as that served to others.

They may even need to be proficient with computers, particularly if they use software programs to schedule and buy supplies and ingredients. They also have to prepare the budget and other financial matters involving the preparation of food.

Executive chefs may also delegate some of his responsibilities to their sous chefs who are essentially their right-hand men or women. In case the head chef is not around, everyone takes command from the sous chef.

Career Spotlight: Chef

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