The pantry chef, also known as a chef garde manger, works in the cold kitchen. The job usually entails preparing salads, cheese plates and other cold appetizers, but may even encompass brewing coffee. The duties of the pantry chef depend on the size and type of restaurant. Similarly sized kitchens may not have similar duties for their pantry chefs.
A pantry chef performs many jobs in the kitchen. Among those jobs is washing, chopping, dicing and carving both fruits and vegetables and ensuring the preparation area is clean and equipment is sterilized as per health code standards. The pantry chef is often responsible for ordering and stocking the food for the cold station. She prepares salads, hors d'oeuvres and other cold appetizers and garnishes the dishes, along with ensuring that the right cold sides such as butters, sauces and spreads are sent with orders. The position may or may not involve supervising subordinates or filling in at other stations if needed. A pantry chef is expected to keep up with current culinary trends and the latest techniques.
Mid-Range Eateries and High End Dining
In a mid-range restaurant or eatery, a pantry chef usually deals mainly with salads and desserts. He may also be in charge of cold soups or smoked fish, depending on the establishment's menu. In fine dining establishments, the pantry chef is often responsible for cheese, spreads and cold soups, in addition to salads, desserts and fruit plates. He may also be in charge of canapes, pates, preserved fish, roes and terrines. A pantry chef manager usually oversees the curing, smoking, seasoning and drying of food that needs to be preserved over time.
Banquet Halls and Buffets
Banquet hall and buffet pantry chefs tend to have the same duties as those at both high-end and mid-range establishments. They're in charge of preparing salads, fruit platters and preserved meat. However in this role, creativity and artistry play a bigger role. Foods need to be arranged in a creative and visually appealing style for special events such as weddings or fundraisers. The job can even include creating ice sculptures for table displays or sculpting fruits and vegetables into pieces of edible art.
Education, Salary and Job Outlook
Most pantry chefs hold some sort of degree, usually an associate degree in culinary arts, with some chefs holding a bachelor's degree or higher. Training may include an apprenticeship position and certification in food safety. Officially becoming a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation may help to boost a career. Career Bliss lists the salary range for a pantry chef as between $18,000 and $30,000, with an average of $22,142. A lead pantry chef is listed as making between $22,000 and $32,000, with $27,000 as the average yearly salary. The duties and locations of the job vary, which accounts for the difference in wages. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects little to no growth through 2020 for chefs and head cooks. It projects that those with the most experience will be able to find work, especially as the profession tends to have a quick turnover rate due to long hours, the fast pace, and the amount of energy needed to be on your feet running around the kitchen for hours.