Food Service Occupations
Back of House
Efficient kitchens are well-organized kitchens. Most kitchens are organized into stations or sections, with each responsible for preparing different food or menu items. All the stations together form what is called the line. 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 collective agreement 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 brigade, 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|
|Chef, Chef de Cuisine||Kitchen manager||In charge of the whole kitchen|
|Sous-Chef, Executive Sous Chef||None||Second in command of the kitchen; supervises when the chef is absent|
|Chef de Partie||Section cook||In charge of a section or station|
|Entremetier||Vegetable station||Preparation of vegetables, starches, and accompaniments|
|Saucier||Sauce or sauté station||Preparation of sauces, hot appetizers, and finishing most entrées|
|Garde Manger||Salad station, cold kitchen||Preparation of cold kitchen items such as salads and cold appetizers|
|Tournant||Swing cook||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, Line 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|