As any chef will tell you, stepping up to the role of sous chef is a challenging one. You’ll be expected to make sure the brigade is producing top-quality cuisine and that chefs with talent are trained and developed. In addition to this you’ll have to take charge of the kitchen in the head chef’s absence, and:
- Ensure your brigade has high culinary standards.
- Manage food purchasing and storage.
- Maintain a safe and hygienic kitchen environment.
- Help create new recipes and write menus.
Below are 7 steps that you can take in order to successfully land a Sous chef promotion:
Work fast, work clean – be a mise en place legend! Being fast, safe and organised are crucial habits that need to be at the very core of what you do – all the time! You’re unlikely to be promoted if there not and if you can’t keep up with the restaurant’s usual pace of service.
Spend time at every position on the line, if possible as it’s much easier to supervise work you’ve done yourself and understand (inside and out!)
Keep learning. Never lose an opportunity to broaden your knowledge of cooking, whether that means experimenting with an unfamiliar ingredient or taking classes to learn new techniques. Books and online videos can also be excellent learning tools.
Study your co-workers and learn their strengths and weaknesses. Watch how your superior works with them and manages their personalities. If you expect to supervise other chefs, you’ll need to know how to get the best from them.
Volunteer to take over some of the low-level management chores from other more senior chefs. This might include some of the week’s ordering, doing spot inventories on high-demand ingredients, or checking the coolers and storage areas for proper stock rotation.
Consider ways to improve work flow, or solve recurring problems that take place during service periods. Problem-solving is a major job skill and making your head chef’s recurrent headaches go away is one of the surest paths to promotion.
Hang in there. Turnover tends to be high in the hospitality business and often promotion will come (if you’re ready for it) simply by outlasting your competitors.
While commercial kitchens are busy, competitive places that are filled with chefs of varying degrees of skill and professionalism it’s worth noting that your attitude and work ethic will more often than not win you a promotion over someone who solely relies on their skill set.