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Career as Sous Chef

Career as a Sous Chef

About Sous Chef

A Sous Chef is one of the most important positions in the kitchen of a restaurant or hotel. The meaning of Sous Chef is ‘under-chef’. It is the second-highest position in a kitchen, ranking below the Executive Chef or the Head Chef. As a Sous Chef, a person is fully responsible for the proper functioning of a kitchen. There are many duties and responsibilities that come under the purview of a sous chef. These include coordinating the daily kitchen operations, designating work to and ensuring that it is properly carried out by chefs and cooks, procuring the necessary ingredients and checking inventory periodically, ensuring proper hygiene in the kitchen and high quality of food etc.

Thus, it can be seen that the role of a sous chef is essential to the smooth functioning of any kitchen. He also assists the Executive Chef in all aspects of work, including coordinating with other departments, holding meetings, planning the menu, mentoring new chefs, interacting with the guests etc. A sous chef has to have a good understanding of all of the kitchen operations as well as of the food preparation to carry out his / her responsibilities properly. He should have good managerial, leadership and communication skills and should have a courteous demeanour towards the guests.

A sous chef is a very interesting but also a challenging choice of career. The daily workload of a sous chef can be variable and he/she has to stay ready to work long hours especially during the time of holidays. A person assuming the role of a sous chef must be able to think outside the box and stay calm even during stressful and hectic situations. This is a field that requires a person to have a good presence of mind, cheerful and pleasant attitude as well as the ability to lead a team and give clear instructions.

Eligibility to become Sous Chef

There is no particular eligibility criteria for becoming a sous chef in India. However, most of the hospitality establishments consider candidates who have completed a bachelor’s degree or a related or equivalent course in Hotel Management. Plus, this is a senior-level position in the kitchen and requires candidates to have a certain amount of work experience in the field.

Here are the minimum requirements that are recommended for becoming a sous chef in India.

Undergraduate Degree: Candidates must have completed a UG degree in hotel management. These may include:

  • Bachelor of Hotel Management (BHM)

  • Bachelor of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (BHMCT)

  • Bachelor of Catering Technology & Culinary Arts (BCTCA)

Work Experience: In order to become a Sous Chef in India, at least 10 - 12 years of work experience will be required. This number may vary depending on the hiring company.

Postgraduate Degree: Having a postgraduate degree can further increase a candidate’s chances at becoming a sous chef. While it is definitely not necessary to do so, completing a master’s education in a related discipline provides a boost to the growth and career prospects of a person interested in becoming a Sous Chef. The following postgraduate courses can help a person interested in taking up a sous chef position at leading hospitality establishments.

  • Master of Hotel Management (MHM)

  • Master of Hotel Management & Catering Technology (MHMCT)

  • MBA in Hotel Management

  • MBA in Hospitality Management etc.

Types of Job Roles Sous Chef

A sous chef is a particular role in itself in most of the kitchens you will find in hospitality establishments. It is the 2nd most top position in a restaurant or hotel kitchen and is above many other positions such as Cooks, Line Chefs etc. A person eligible to become a sous chef can either look for job opportunities in the commercial hospitality sectors (such as hotels, resorts etc.) or go for a private business including catering services or even open their own businesses.

Some of the common job roles that come in the hierarchy along with the sous chef have been given below. These have been given in increasing order of hierarchy.

  • Line Chef / Station Chef: These are chefs responsible for a particular line or station in a kitchen. Such as Pastry Chef, Grill Chef, Vegetable Chef, Fish Chef etc. Line chefs are responsible for the operation and execution of a single station and have to be coordinated by Sous Chefs.

  • Sous Chef: The second-in-command of any kitchen, sous chefs take on a variety of roles ranging from management of the kitchen to coordinating line chefs, planning menus etc.

  • Executive Sous Chef: Executive sous chef is not a very common position and can only be found in hospitality establishments having very large kitchen operations. Sous chefs with 2 - 3 years of experience are generally preferred for these roles but this may vary.

  • Executive Chef / Head Chef: The topmost position in a kitchen is the head chef. He is majorly responsible for finalising the menu of a restaurant, the presentation and look of the dishes, coordinating the daily operations of a kitchen, coordinating with other departments in the hospitality establishment etc.

Employment Sector/Industry for Sous Chef

A career in the hospitality sector can be very rewarding especially when it is related to food. It comes with a ton of perks and benefits not to mention that it pays a good salary. Professionals in this sector can look for new and exciting career opportunities in India as well as abroad and get a chance to work with the leading hospitality chains all around the world. However, working in a kitchen can prove to be very hectic and it comes with its very own challenges. Things regularly go wrong and long working hours are pretty common in this job. Plus, the level of training and work experience required to make it big in this sector is quite high.

For a person who has an interest in food and a passion for food preparation, becoming a sous chef is an opportunity for personal growth and acquiring skills. Hands-on training and practical exposure is essential for this job and is considered to be more important than having a formal education in this field. Some of the key recruiting areas for sous chef include the following.

  • Hotels

  • Restaurants

  • Cruise Liners

  • Resorts

  • Catering Companies

  • Food Manufacturing Companies etc.

Top Recruiting Companies for Sous Chef

Given below are some of the top companies that hire for the position of sous chefs.

  • Hotel Leela
  • Hotel Ramada

  • Taj Hotels

  • Jaypee Group

  • Le Meridien etc.

Planning to choose Sous Chef as your career?

Pay Scale/Salary of Sous Chef

Job PositionAverage Starting SalaryAverage Mid-Level SalaryAverage High-Level Salary
Line Chef / Line CookRs. 1.5 - 2 LPARs. 2 - 3 LPARs. 6 - 7 LPA
Sous ChefRs. 3.5 - 4 LPARs. 4 - 5 LPARs. 10+ LPA
Executive ChefRs. 4 - 5 LPARs. 8 - 9 LPARs. 20+ LPA


Books & Study Material to Become Sous Chef

Name of BookAuthorPublisher
Kitchen ConfidentialAnthony BourdainBloomsbury Publishing
The Oxford Companion to FoodAlan DavidsonOUP Oxford
50 Great Curries of IndiaCamellia PanjabiKyle Books
The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of AmericaMichael RuhlmanHolt Paperbacks
Mastering the Art of French CookingJulia ChildPenguin UK


Pros of becoming a Sous Chef

  • The field offers creative freedom and excellent job opportunities.
  • Talented professionals can make good money in this field.

  • The skills acquired in this field can be used in opening up own business such as a restaurant.

Cons of becoming a Sous Chef

  • Long working hours and a physically-demanding job.
  • Initial years require a lot of patience and hard work. Many are unable to cope with the pressure.

  • The field requires professionals to constantly stay updated with the latest techniques and trends.

Paths for Being Sous Chef

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