In-demand chef jobs and hospitality careers in SA
If you have a deep love for the culinary arts and would like to pursue Chef jobs, you have come to the right blog. Today the Job Mail team not only gives you the lowdown on the different types of Chefs, but also what these types of hospitality jobs involve.
The natural order of things in the kitchen
Before we get started on the different types of Chefs, it is important to understand the ‘food chain’ (known as the Kitchen Brigade). At the top and in command in the kitchen is the Executive Chef (also known as the Chef de Cuisine).
Next up on the food chain (or Brigade) is the Assistant or Sous Chef followed by the Chef de Partie (or senior chef). These senior chefs are responsible for certain menu items that he or she specialises in. Working under the Sous Chef you will find the Station or Line Chefs.
Please keep in mind that, as you read through these Chef job descriptions and responsibilities that it might not be the same for every kitchen, so always read through a listed vacancy’s requirements to make sure that you meet the standards required.
Working as an Executive Chef
Also known as the Head Chef, this culinary professional is in charge of the kitchen and the leader of the Brigade, taking on important managerial roles that sees that the kitchen functions efficiently.
These types of Chef jobs require a range of skills. You will be developing and implementing menus, training staff, monitoring aspects such as hygiene, supervising the kitchen, maintaining stock as well as cost control, and taking overall responsibility for how your kitchen is run.
You will be required to not only create an extremely well-oiled team, but also work as part of this team. Problem solving skills, strong leadership traits and critical thinking are only some of the skills required from an Executive Chef.
The Sous Chef
Assisting the Executive Chef, working as a Sous Chef entails helping with a range of extremely important functions which the kitchen cannot function without. You will be involved in both the creation and the delivery of daily dishes and menus, inventory and cost control, the maintenance of equipment, tasks like food and wine pairing for marketing that leads to an increase in sales, and the scheduling of staff as well as their supervision.
Like most tourism and hospitality jobs, these hospitality jobs entail long hours and hard work but, if you have passion for what you do, this might just be something you will take in your stride.
Chef de Partie
Also known as a Senior Chef or Station Chef, the Chef de Partie is usually responsible for a specific part (or Line) of the kitchen, taking charge of that part and ensuring that the Line is functioning optimally. From being in charge of the grill to being in charge of the cold dishes, this Chef ensures that everything that is produced and leaves their Line is of the best quality.
Working under the Sous or Executive Chef, the Chef de Partie might also be expected to be in charge of more than one Line depending on the size of the kitchen. Working as part of a well organised team and being able to act on their feet, these positions are both demanding and rewarding at the same time.
Pastry Chef Jobs
There is no doubt that hospitality jobs like those in the culinary arts are exciting and interesting. The role of then Pastry Chef in the kitchen is no different. These Chefs create desserts and baked goods as set out by the menu and are able to create a wide range of yummy treats that will make any critic’s mouth water.
Depending on where you work, as a Pastry Chef you will also be responsible for creativity in terms of the menu as well recipes, the inventory and cost control of your ingredients and have the ability to not only take direction, but also give direction. Part of a Line or Station, this professional is also referred to as a patissier.
Specialisations within this field includes titles such as Glacier, who is responsible for the preparation of cold and frozen desserts, a Boulanger, who is responsible for the preparation of breads and unsweetened doughs for example, a Confiseur, who takes on the responsibility of creating candies for example, and the Decorateur, who is responsible for creating speciality cakes and show pieces.
Different Types of Station or Line Chef Jobs
Within the Kitchen Brigade there are commonly 10 stations, each requiring a specialised Chef to take on the roles and responsibilities associated with that Line or Station. Note however that, in smaller kitchens, some of these Stations or Lines might be combined. An example of this is the Rottiseur and Grillardin.
Boucher – A Boucher is in charge of all the poultry and other meats before they are taken to the Lines or Stations. Much like a butcher, this professional is in charge of everything from cutting to boning the meats used.
Entremetier – Also sometimes referred to as the vegetable Chef, these Chef jobs entails working with everything from vegetables and egg dishes, to rice and soups. Preparing vegetables for their intended dishes and even stock and ingredients for soups, are only some of the responsibilities of the Entremetier.
Friturier – This kitchen role is that of the fryer. The Friturier, also known as the Fry Cook, is responsible for producing all the fried menu items – from fried meats to vegetables. Very simply put, if it gets cooked in oil or animal fats, this Chef is responsible.
Grillardin – Also known as the Grill Chef, this professional is responsible for all the grilled dishes coming out of the kitchen – from that delicious steaks to grilled vegetables.
Garde Manger – Also known as a Pantry Chef, the Garde Manger is responsible for the cold dishes leaving the kitchen. This includes salads, cold soups and even cheeses.
Poissonnier – In charge of the fish dishes, these Chef jobs not only requires the cooking of the dishes, but in some kitchens also the preparation of the raw fish.
Patisseur – Also called Pastry Chefs, these culinary artists are responsible for the bakery items leaving the kitchen – from breads and desserts to delicious cakes.
Rottiseur – Known as the Roast Chef, these types of hospitality jobs entail all the roasts or meat dishes leaving the kitchen as well as the sauces that should accompany these dishes.
Saucier – A very important Line, these Chefs are responsible for producing all the master sauces. Because these sauces make up ingredients of various dishes on the menu, this station plays an important role especially when it comes to French cuisines.
Tournant – Also known as a Swing Chef, these types of Chefs are trained individuals that are able to fill any open spot on any Line or Station in the kitchen.
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Commis Chef jobs
Sometimes filled by recent culinary arts graduates, a Commis Chef works as an assistant or apprentice on different Lines or Stations. Working with the Saucier for example a Saucier Commis will take on the responsibility of preparing the ingredients needed for what is to be made that day (like the master sauces).
A Poissonnier Commis in turn might take on the responsibility of cleaning and cutting the fish needed for the dishes to be produced, while a Rotisseur Commis might be tasked with the preparation needed for the meats before roasting.
Tournant positions are a great way for recent graduates to gain experience in the different Lines or Stations in a kitchen, building on skills and work experience. Find and apply for great Commis Chef jobs on Job Mail by registering your CV.
Places where a Chef can find employment
While restaurants and hotels are some of the common places you might think of, other places where Chefs find employment include B&Bs, Cruise Ships, Spas and Resorts, and even at Retirement Homes and Hospitals.
Catering companies, wedding venues and the cafeterias of big companies might also choose to employ their own kitchen staff.
Training and Education for Chefs in SA
South Africa is a beautiful country with a rich culture and a selection of quality higher education institutions. When it comes to the culinary arts, South Africa is most definitely not left behind.
Some of the institutions where you can complete your studies include the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), the Free State Central University of Technology, the Chefs Training and Innovation Academy and the Durban University of Technology, to name but a few.
The South Africa Chefs Association (SACA) also features a list of Training Providers that are members of SACA. Be sure to do your research and find a tertiary training provider that is not only reputable, but also registered with all the relevant education departments and regulatory bodies.
If you are thinking of pursuing hospitality jobs and becoming a Chef, check out some of South Africa’s most notable Chefs and what they have accomplished. Some award winning Chefs we would definitely recommend checking out include Chef Reuben Riffel and Chef Peter Tempelhoff.
Did we miss any of your favourite Chefs? Tell us about them in the comment section below!