Food Service Occupations
Back of House
Efficient kitchens are well-organized kitchens. Most kitchens are organized into or sections, with each responsible for preparing different food or menu items. All the stations together form what is called the . Usually, each station on the line has a separate name, but job titles often reflect the experience and the skills of the cook. This can be a bit confusing. For example, in larger establishments the positions of first cook, second cook, and third cook are common, but the skills and qualifications of people with these job titles can vary from restaurant to restaurant, and in some cases may be linked to salary structures within the of a union. As well, many people call themselves a chef when they are in reality a cook in a restaurant or someone who has taken culinary training.
The traditional hierarchy of the kitchen is a system called the , created in France in the 19th century by Auguste Escoffier. Although most modern restaurants do not follow the traditional brigade system to the letter, many of the positions in restaurants are still referred to using the French terminology. Read the full listing of job titles in the traditional brigade online.
Table 2 lists job titles from the brigade system that are still in common use and describes how they fit into the modern restaurant structure. Important titles to know are bolded.
|Traditional Title||Modern Alternatives||Duties|
|,||Kitchen manager||In charge of the whole kitchen|
|,||None||Second in command of the kitchen; supervises when the chef is absent|
|Section cook||In charge of a section or station|
|Vegetable station||Preparation of vegetables, starches, and accompaniments|
|Saucier||Sauce or sauté station||Preparation of sauces, hot appetizers, and finishing most entrées|
|Salad station, cold kitchen||Preparation of cold kitchen items such as salads and cold appetizers|
|Tournant||Rotates between stations in the kitchen|
|Pâtissier||Pastry cook/Pastry chef||Preparation of desserts|
|Poissonier||Fish station||Preparation of fish and seafood|
|Grillardin||Grill cook||Preparation of grilled or broiled items|
|Cuisineur||Cook,||Preparation of a wide variety of foods|
|Commis||Junior cook||Preparation of a wide variety of foods|
Front of House
A similar structure exists in the front of the house, with restaurant and dining room managers having their own teams of servers, hosts/hostesses, bussers, and bartenders to serve guests. The traditional brigade hierarchy also covered the front of house positions, and is still commonly used in France to this day, but only two have remained in common usage in Canada, namely maître d’hôtel (or maître d’ for short) and sommelier. Typical front of house positions and responsibilities are listed in Table 3.
|Maître d’/Maître d’Hotel||Dining room or restaurant manager||In charge of the front of the house|
|Sommelier||Wine steward||Responsible for maintaining wine lists and the ordering and service of wine|
|Server||Waiter/waitress||Takes orders, leads service|
|Busser||None||Sets and clears tables|
|Host/Hostess||None||Seats guests and often processes payment|
|Bartender||None||Prepares drinks and beverages|
|Expediter||Food runner||Brings food to the table from the kitchen|
Areas of the kitchen set up for an individual or individuals to prepare a group of menu items. A professional kitchen will have several stations.
The main cooking area of the kitchen where most hot foods are produced.
A contract between a union and employer concerning the terms and conditions of employment for employees in the bargaining unit. A collective agreement is a legally enforceable document binding on all parties involved.
Traditional name for the kitchen team and organizational structure.
The head of the kitchen brigade.
The person responsible for the day-to-day operations of the kitchen in larger operations with multiple departments or food outlets.
Second in command below the chef. In larger operations, there may be many sous-chefs with different areas of responsibility.
In a large operation with more than one sous-chef, the executive sous-chef is the second in command and in charge when the executive chef is not present.
The head of a section or station in larger kitchens.
Cook who works in the main hot section, preparing vegetables and starches.
A) Cook who works in the main cold or salad section, preparing a variety of foods.
B) The cold kitchen or station responsible for preparing cold menu items.
Cook who rotates between different stations in the kitchen. also known as a tournant.
Cook who works in the main hot section, preparing a variety of foods.