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Responsible for designing and executing meal services for multiple guests, a successful banquet chef possesses strong management skills and a good faculty for logistic planning, and understands the dynamics of a high-volume kitchen. When working in a large-scale operation such as a resort or hotel, he usually works with several other chefs dedicated to the service of large functions. If employed by an independent restaurant, however, he often relies on the personnel already in place for special events.
A banquet chef often has a minimum of two to three years of supervisory experience in a high-volume professional kitchen, augmented with formal culinary training. She has a modicum of proficiency in mathematics to adequately monitor product costs and minimize the overage that results from excessive food preparation. She exhibits excellent organizational skills and has the discipline to adhere to a strict production schedule.
A successful banquet chef effectively directs and manages a team of cooks under his command. Although the number of employees in a banquet kitchen will vary depending on the size of the operation, the chef must identify the best attributes and idiosyncrasies of each cook and determine who fits best into specific roles. He considers variables with each event, such as type of cuisine, number of guests and event duration to schedule each team member accordingly.
A banquet chef ideally receives a work order for an upcoming function immediately upon its scheduling, and most hotels and restaurants require a minimum of four weeks' advance notice. This grants the chef adequate time to tailor a menu, place orders for specialty items and schedule her staff as needed. A banquet chef plans each event with exacting precision per the client’s demands, with consideration to other events in queue. Perhaps the most crucial step in a banquet service, proper planning is integral to a banquet chef’s success.
As a professional and legal responsibility, the banquet chef pays close attention to any religious or dietary restrictions imposed upon the event. He performs due diligence by notifying his staff prior to the preparation of any food and takes every measure to respect the guidelines put forth by the client. If necessary, he uses outside resources to ensure his menu conforms to the religious or cultural demands of the client.
With each element of the event prepared and organized in a logical manner, the banquet chef executes the service portion of a function with precision and efficiency. Because of the preparatory work that preceded it, she effectively meets the requirements of her work order and satisfies each demand prescribed in it. After properly instructing her supporting team of cooks and service staff, the actual meal service often proves the least difficult aspect of the banquet chef’s job.
- "The Professional Chef"; Culinary Institute of America; 2008
- H Careers: Executive Chef Job Description
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.