Food Service Occupations

7 Food Service Positions and Job Titles

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.

Table 2. Kitchen positions
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.

Table 3. Front of house positions
Title Alternatives Duties
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


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Working in the Food Service Industry Copyright © 2015 by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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