How do I Become a Sous Chef?

Pamela Pleasant

In a professional kitchen, a sous chef works directly under the head chef and has to understand how to run a kitchen. To become a sous chef, a food worker has to know just as much as the head chef. He will have to run the kitchen area if the head chef is absent. Generally, to become a sous chef, a food worker must graduate from an accredited culinary program, gain experience by working at lesser jobs in the kitchen, and master the business and cooking skills to manage a restaurant staff.

A sous chef should be able to choose foods that complement each other.
A sous chef should be able to choose foods that complement each other.

Since the sous chef is second in charge, he will typically be responsible for food purchases. He must keep the food ordered and stocked and make sure there is enough food on hand in the restaurant. A sous chef must also be able to work long hours, including nights and weekends. Menu planning and food preparation also are important elements of this job. To become a sous chef, the food worker should have several years of experience.

A sous chef must now how to run a kitchen when the head chef is not present.
A sous chef must now how to run a kitchen when the head chef is not present.

While a worker is completing a culinary course, he can gain experience by becoming a cook. This is typically a low-level position but can prepare is chef to make and present difficult dishes. Even if a cook has culinary certification, he will still need plenty of hands-on experience.

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Sous chefs supervise for safety and proper food preparation.
Sous chefs supervise for safety and proper food preparation.

Being able to prepare specialized dishes is a must for a sous chef. For example, certain diners may only be able to eat foods that are low in sodium or sugar. A sous chef has to be able to prepare dishes with this in mind. Other diners may require kosher or vegetarian meals. To become a sous chef, a cook has to know how to substitute ingredients without losing flavor.

A sous chef must be able to work long hours, including nights and weekends.
A sous chef must be able to work long hours, including nights and weekends.

Even after a cook gains certification to become a sous chef, he will still have to continue to learn new dishes. Popular foods can change over time and a chef will have to prepare dishes that are in high demand. Innovating and incorporating new ideas can also be helpful. Being able to choose foods that complement each other is also important.

To become a sous chef, a cook must have knowledge of wines or other drinks that complement the food he is preparing. This is also true for desserts, gravies, and other elements of a dish.

A sous chef is the second in command in a kitchen.
A sous chef is the second in command in a kitchen.

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