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A commis chef is a novice or apprentice position within large kitchens. The commis chef assists the head chefs in preparing food while building his culinary skills and experience. Commis chefs often cycle through various positions during their tenure in order to help them learn different techniques, meaning that their duties and responsibilities vary.
The foremost duty of all commis chefs is to ask questions. Commis chefs are intended to not only assist, but to improve their skills. A commis chef should not do a task incorrectly because he faisl to understand it. Therefore, all good commis chefs should ask numerous questions.
Preparing Salads and Sauces
One of the chief duties of commis chefs is to prepare simple dishes that require more time and effort than culinary, chiefly salads and certain kinds of sauces.
Upscale restaurants strive to make their food not just edible but aesthetically attractive. To this end, commis chefs often give plates a last look before they leave the kitchen, making sure they are arranged as specified by the head chef.
Commis chefs can expect to spend many hours chopping ingredients for other chefs, often in the hours before the restaurant opens.
Assisting the Head Chef
Commis chefs often double as personal assistants to the head chef, meaning that his duties can extend to anything required of the head chef that the head chef feels he can entrust to his assistant, from checking the registers at the end of the night to helping plan the menu.
Commis chefs often sign for deliveries. In doing so, the chef needs to make sure that all the food that has been ordered has been delivered and is of good and fresh quality.
Commis chefs often are required to take inventory of the stock room, noting how much of each ingredient the restaurant has and what needs to be ordered.
Maintaining Safety and Hygiene
Often, commis chefs are required to make sure that the restaurant is staying in compliance of all health and safety codes. That means he must become familiar with local law, periodically inspecting the premises for cleanliness and identifying unsafe practices to co-workers.
Commis chefs usually are required to perform basic cleaning duties. Whereas most larger kitchens should employ a maintenance and janitorial crew, commis chefs often do the cleaning required during rush hours, such as washing dishes and mopping up spills.
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.