Glossary For A Chef

Posted October 13, 2011, by Elissa Collier

If you want to become a chef à la Jamie Oliver, Bill Granger or Heston Blumenthal, one of the first things you will have to decide is what type of chef you want to be and what you want to specialise in. The following list contains some common chef positions within the commercial kitchen. In smaller restaurant kitchens, some of these positions may be merged together. This list does not include all the specialties out there – so do your research and become MasterChef for the particular type of food you love.

Executive chef (chef de cuisine, head chef)

This is the person in charge of everything from menu creation, management and scheduling to kitchen staff payroll, ordering and plating design. Basically, all things related to the kitchen.

Sous chef (sous-chef de cuisine)

Literally means under-chef of the kitchen. This chef is second in command and is responsible for the supervision of the other specialty chefs.

Chef de partie (station chef, line cook)

The station chef is in charge of one particular area of the restaurant’s kitchen. In large kitchens, the chef de partie may have other assistants working under them and there may be several of these cooks in a kitchen. Some chef de partie positions include:

  • Garde manger (pantry chef): Specialises in cold foods including salads, pâtés, canapés, cold sauces and dressings such as vinaigrettes, chutneys and relishes.
  • Pastry chef (pâtissier): In charge of making pastries and desserts. Also responsible for preparing the dessert menu and ordering the equipment and food for this department.
  • Sauté chef (saucier): Often regarded as the most prestigious station in the kitchen, this chef is responsible for making sauces and other dishes, such as meat, that is cooked in a sauce.
  • Fish chef (poissonnier): Responsible for preparing fish dishes. This chef also does the butchering and preparation of the fish.
  • Roast chef (rôtisseur): In charge of preparing roasted and braised meats and their gravies.
  • Vegetable chef (entremettier): Responsible for preparing vegetables, soups, starches and eggs.

Roundsman (tournant)

Often referred to as the relief or swing cook, this position replaces and fills in for other station chefs when needed.


Known as the apprentice, or assistant chef, who works underneath a chef de partie. May have recently completed, or is still undergoing, culinary training.

Personal chef

Cooks meals for their employer, usually in a family setting. This chef is responsible for all areas of the kitchen and meal, including menu creation and ordering.

Gourmet chef

This chef is highly skilled in delicacies or foreign dishes. They excel in specialty dishes and are often trained overseas.

Elissa Collier

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