These similar roles may look similar, but they vary in subtle ways from club to club.
Step into a professional kitchen and you’re bound to find a range of hierarchy systems. Much like a corporate office, the titles and roles of managerial positions often depend on the size of the company and the preferences of leadership. Club kitchens are no different—and the differences between the Chef de Cuisine and Executive Sous Chef enter a gray area depending on where you are.
In the traditional French kitchen stratification system called the Kitchen Brigade, the Chef de Cuisine and Executive Sous Chef both report to the Executive Chef. If both roles are present, the Chef de Cuisine sits second in command while the Sous Chef comes next. They are both, however, on the front lines of meal planning and service.
Chef de Cuisine Responsibilities
Often referred to as the “Head Chef,” the Chef de Cuisine collaborates directly with the Executive Chef but often takes a more hands-on approach to meal service. In some club kitchens they may:
- Interact with members to learn their tastes and preferences
- Work with outside vendors
- Assist with menu planning and scheduling the specials
- Focus on recipe development
- Oversee line chefs during service and ensure each item is ideally plated
In some kitchens, depending on the size of the club, the Chef de Cuisine may even be the head of the kitchen.
Executive Sous Chef
The Sous Chef is the Executive Chef’s right hand in the kitchen, typically acting as the direct link between the EC—and/or the Chef de Cuisine—to the rest of the kitchen. If the Executive Chef is away for the day, the Sous Chef is ready to step in as the leader.
The Sous Chef may also play a role in:
- Determining staff and schedules
- Line cook training and oversight
- Ensuring the kitchen meets safety standards
- Ordering and budgeting
- Overall administrative tasks
Both roles require ample training, professional certification, and a minimum number of years working on the line in a similar club kitchen. The specific responsibilities of each role, however, often come down to the unique structure and culture of the club itself.