Chefs work behind the scenes in restaurants preparing customers' meals.
They cook the food and arrange it on plates so it not only tastes great but
looks great as well.
There are different types of chefs. There are executive chefs, sous chefs,
station chefs and specialty chefs.
Executive chefs are at the top of the chain in large eateries, such as
restaurant hotels. They do more paperwork than regular chefs do -- not only
do they cook, they are also involved with hiring and firing staff, ordering,
supervising and planning.
Sous chefs may supervise staff, as well, but they answer to the executive
chef. Sous chefs may also do things like plan menus and train new staff.
Station chefs and specialty chefs often specialize in one thing, and they
stick to it. A pastry chef is a good example of this kind of chef. Other station
or specialty chefs might focus on lunches, soups or desserts.
There are also personal or private chefs, who don't work in restaurants
at all. Instead, they work for people in their homes. There is much less work
available in this area than in restaurants.
In restaurants, chefs may be responsible for making sure the kitchen is
well stocked with all the needed accessories and for deciding on the daily
It is important to note the difference between chefs and cooks. Cooks do
a lot of the actual cooking. Chefs' duties, on the other hand, extend beyond
cooking. Chefs are in charge of overseeing everything that goes on in the
"There can be lots of cooks in a kitchen, but there can only ever be one
[head] chef," says Matt Rissling, an executive chef. "Most chefs start out
as really good cooks. It's these really good cooks who also have good people
skills that eventually rise to the top of the kitchen to take control."
Being a chef isn't easy - they can work long hours and sometimes without
overtime pay. There is also lots of weekend work as many people go out to
eat on weekends.
There is also shift work. For instance, a chef may work until midnight
one evening and still have to be back in the kitchen at 6 a.m. the following
morning. However, the good news is that chefs who are higher up the food chain
work more regular shifts. They are more involved in activities that require
them to be in the restaurant during working hours.
Apart from being good communicators, chefs should be healthy to tolerate
long shifts in hot kitchens.
Mainly, chefs must love food, says David Pantone. He's dean of culinary
education at Lincoln Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida.
"A chef works and plays with food," says Pantone. "A chef must have an
intimate relationship with all foods. He or she must know everything about
as many foods as possible, so they may treat each food with the respect that
it deserves and prepare it to taste its best."
Occasionally, Pantone's work goes beyond regular chef's duties.
"I just got an emergency call from the local Boy Scout Summer Camp," he
says. "Their head cook is crashing and burning from the pressure and long
hours of serving over 600 people breakfast, lunch and dinner with a small
staff of 13-to-16-year-old Scouts. I need to run up there and put together
a plan of action that will organize the work and allow the staff to sleep
once in a while. So add emergency crisis management to the list of chef's