The word chef literally means chief and is short for chef de cuisine or head of the kitchen. In a professional kitchen there is usually only one chef, and that is the executive chef. Other people working in the kitchen below him are given specific names that may or may not include the word.

For example the sous-chef or under-chef is the direct assistant of the executive chef and is second in command. He may be responsible for scheduling, and filling in when the executive is off-duty. Smaller operations may not have a sous-chef. Other workers in a kitchen would include:

  • The Expediter takes the orders from the dining room and relays them to the stations in the kitchen. This person also often puts the finishing touches on the dish before it goes to the dining room. In some operations this task may be done by either the executive chef or the sous-chef
  • A chef de partie, also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. In most kitchens however, he is the only worker in that department.
  • A commis is an apprentice in larger kitchens that works under a chef de partie in order to learn the station’s responsibilities and operation. He is a chef who has recently completed formal culinary training or is still undergoing training. This would normally be the first job that a newly qualified graduate from a catering academy would occupy.