October 5, 2018
There are not many job roles with French titles, however, when it comes to the kitchen the Brigade de cuisine has been in place since the late 1800’s. Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846- 1935), a well known chef, restaurateur and writer coined the convention and some 150 years later it’s still ingrained around the western world.
If you’re a food lover or Spicers regular, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term ‘Head Chef’. If you’re a more serious food lover then you might be familiar with terms like sous chef, chef de partie or commis chef. But what do they actually mean? And what’s the pecking order?
Below we demystify the brigade de cuisine for those who appreciate the end result but haven’t been exposed to the kitchen.
Generally, a group Chef overseeing multiple restaurants, concepts or experiences. Spicers Retreats are fortunate enough to have Executive Chef Ash Martin setting the menus for and overseeing Homage & the Scenic Rim Trail, Executive Chef Dan Jarrett overseeing The Balfour Kitchen & The Tamarind and consulting Executive Chef Cameron Matthews overseeing Restaurant Botanica and Eremo at Spicers Guest House. Our Executive Chef team often double as Head Chef.
Chef de Cuisine is the traditional title however in Australia, Head Chef is the commonly used name. The Head Chef is the chef in charge. They lead the kitchen and the philosophy of the restaurant, but they also take responsibility for administrative tasks like rostering, sourcing ingredients and ordering. Often they’re the face of the restaurant, and rightly so. The Head Chef is the one who hears ‘Yes, Chef’ when they make a call in the kitchen.
The Sous Chef is the Head Chef’s lieutenant, their right-hand person. They are trusted to run the kitchen when the Head Chef isn’t there and assist with the day-to-day responsibilities of running the kitchen.
Traditionally, a Chef de Partie (or CDP) is in charge of one particular section of the kitchen. Chef de Partie will rotate through the different areas of the kitchen to round out their knowledge and skills. A Pastry Chef is the keeper of all baked goods, pastries and desserts. The Butcher Chef is in charge of preparing meats and poultry. Sauté Chef is responsible for sautéing and creating sauces and gravies.
The juniors of the kitchen, a Commis Chef will work under the chef de parties to learn each section of the kitchen and put their training into practice. Commis Chefs are often toward the end of their formal training and apprenticeship.
While these titles and structures do exist in Spicers restaurants, the kitchen environment is far more collaborative than traditional kitchens in years gone by. If a Chef de Partie demonstrates a flair for pastries and desserts, they can often find themselves doing the job of a pastry chef. The menu design is also a collaborative experience, with the kitchen team working together to contribute ideas and work on new dishes together.
During the busiest of times, everyone pitches in and does what is necessary to deliver the amazing dining experiences Spicers is famous for.