Types of Chefs

Chefs and specialist chefs prepare and cook complete meals, banquets or specialty foods such as pastries, sauces, soups, salads, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish dishes, as well as create food displays. They instruct cooks in preparation, cooking, garnishing and presentation of food and they supervise cooks and other kitchen staff. They may plan menus as well as requisition food and kitchen supplies.


The commis is an entry-level position. Also known as an assistant or apprentice, the commis works under the line cooks (chefs de partie) to learn particulars of a station, through food preparation and plating. Though the commis may seem to have a lowly position in the kitchen, the experience is invaluable. Besides gaining knife and prep skills by working with chefs, the commis will experience the pace, pressure, and demands of a kitchen.

Pastry Chef

Pastry chefs must have the knowledge to create different kinds of baked goods and confections, as well as be able to take on special projects. They must also be creative, have a good aesthetic eye, and understand the principles of taste and flavor in desserts.

In the corporate environment of a large hotel, the pastry chef typically reports to the Executive Pastry Chef, who reports to the Corporate Pastry Chef. Below pastry chefs, in the typical restaurant structure, are Assistant Pastry Chefs and line employees.

A good pastry chef must be an exceptional manager of people, be able to coordinate staffing with production requirements. Must be able to keep track of costs and be in charge of ingredient ordering.


Among the kitchen positions known as “section chefs,” the saucier (sah-see-ayy) is relatively prestigious. This person makes all the sauces, and sometimes might make meat dishes cooked in a particular sauce. Because sauces are the foundation of French haute cuisine, the saucier might be considered “the keeper of the flame” in the traditional French-based restaurant kitchen.

The classically trained saucier knows that the basis of all sauces are the five “Mother sauces.” The first is Espagnole (or Brown Sauce), made from a dark roux of cooked flour and butter, along with brown stock made from roasted bones and vegetables. Veloute is a white sauce, made with a pale roux and a light stock. Bechamel is a basic white sauce made of flour, butter, and milk, to which cheese is often added. Vinaigrette is oil and vinegar, usually flavored with garlic, shallots, or herbs. And Hollandaise represents the emulsified sauces of egg and oil or butter, which include Mayonnaise.

Sous Chef

The sous (“soo”) chef is the second in command after the chef de cuisine or executive chef in the kitchen, almost like the first mate to the captain. Sous is French for “under,” and the under chef is the unsung hero of the kitchen, the one who makes things run. While the executive chef’s name is on the menu, it might well be the sous chef who created–and cooked–the dish that’s on the table in front of you.

Sous-chefs supervise the activities of specialist chefs, chefs, cooks and other kitchen workers, and they may demonstrate new cooking techniques and equipment to cooking staff. They may plan menus, requisition food and kitchen supplies, and prepare and cook meals and specialty foods.

Executive Chef

Executive chefs plan and direct food preparation and cooking activities in restaurants, hospitals or other establishments with food services. They plan menus, ensure that food meets quality standards, estimate food requirements, and may also estimate food and labour costs. They supervise the activities of sous-chefs, specialist chefs, chefs and cooks, and they recruit and hire staff. They may cook food on a regular basis for special guests or functions.

Some executive chefs are very hands-on, in their restaurants every day and night, actually preparing dishes or finishing the plates to make sure everything that leaves their kitchen is perfection. At the opposite extreme, the executive chef may have created the dishes and settled the menu, but leaves the sous chef to do all the day-to-day running of the kitchen while the executive takes time to write a cookbook or travel.

Garde Manger

Like most kitchen positions, the Garde Manger is a highly specialized line cook who is responsible for all cold food presentation, such as composed salads, pates, canapes and hors d’ouevres–everything cold that might appear on a buffet table. The garde manger chef handles all cold sauces, such as vinaigrettes and dressings, as well as aspics, pickles, chutneys and relishes. In a large corporate setting, the garde manger chef could be responsible for ice sculpture and large-scale food still-lifes to decorate a buffet table.

A Personal Chef

A Personal Chef is someone who loves to cook and help families gather around the table again for a meal together. Busy, time-starved families need the services of a Personal Chef in order to avoid frozen pizza, fast food joints, or expensive restaurant dining. A Personal Chef will complete a family interview to determine dinner time favorites, discuss allergies and dislikes, then shop for all the fresh ingredients and go to their client’s homes to prepare delicious meals to their client’s specifications.


  1. kaitlyn garcia says

    this information was so helpful. i had to do a career research paper for one of my classes and this website really helped me with it.

  2. wow i didn’t know things were so complicated in a kitchen! are you a chef yourself?

  3. thanks for the help it helped me alot for my paper

  4. samantha jones says

    Thank you , you helped me with me homeworkkk .

  5. Hey… What do you call it when a chef specialises in a certain thing like pastry, sauces, etc. I can’t find the correct term. Can you please help me?

  6. this website was good on information. especially with the research that i had to do for a paper. (:

  7. Tyler Yeary says

    Thank you I also need this info for a school project.

  8. What is the best type of chef ?

  9. Thank you very much. im a year 8/form 2 and i have to do a speech and i chose cooking. I have found it so helpful looking at these information paragraph and i learnt so many different things.

  10. Shonte' Jones says

    this information was very helpful. i jus finished high school and want to become a chef.

  11. Jai'Darius says

    i really the facts they give me in this site i really think i want too become a personal chef. yeah i reslly thyink im gonna do that oh yeah : D

  12. I was looking to join a hotel management programme and this information is vital for me. I would like to be an executive chef.

  13. Daniel perez says

    Wow this is really good info. Will defenetly help me understand about the kitchen and becoming a chef.

  14. i have a question what are the education requirements for a personal chef.

  15. great to read and learn, so simple

  16. Does an executive chef get to cook a lot or do they just plan and stuff?