A Commis Cook is an entry level position for new chefs. They work in the kitchen and generally assist the other chefs. Even though it's an entry level job, as a commis chef you'll have lots of responsibilities when you first start working and as you gain more experience, you'll be expected to do a lot more. These are commis chef's duties in a kitchen:
1. Assisting Other Chefs in the Kitchen
Commis chefs assist different station chefs (chef de partie) in the kitchen. They help prepare ingredients and do any tasks the chef de partie needs assistance with. In most kitchens, commis chefs are regularly moved around the kitchen so they will assist different chefs. This is a great way to try different work stations and discover if you have a preference to one kind of specialism (like pastry chefs, saucier, etc). Being a commis chef helps you find out what type of chef you want to be.
The commis chef's duties can often depend on the responsibilities of the chef de partie they're assisting.
2. Helping with Deliveries
Restaurant kitchens receive regular deliveries of fresh ingredients and the commis chef will usually be there early to help carry and unpack. Helping unpack deliveries helps you learn where everything goes and learn about the general running of a kitchen. As the commis chef will have aspirations of becoming a chef de partie, helping with deliveries will also help them in understanding the need to rotate stock and the importance of stock ordering.
3. Measuring Ingredients
Before it's time for the restaurant to open, the commis chef will measure out ingredients for different recipes. Certain work stations need particular ingredients and spices ready for the chefs to start work. So the commis cook will measure these out and make sure they're measured precisely. This shows the commis chef the precision involved in measuring ingredients and how it can affect the finished meal. It also educates them on the different ingredients that go into different foods and what ingredient goes with what.
4. Preparing Vegetables and Meats
Along with measuring, the commis chef will also help prepare vegetables and meats. This can be seasoning or marinating steaks and other meats. Chopping vegetables is a common responsibility and the commis cook will often come into work before the restaurant opens so they can get all the vegetables chopped and prepared. It's a good way to learn the different cutting techniques.
5. Assisting with Stock Rotation
Stock rotation is an important responsibility in a restaurant kitchen. Ingredients need to be checked and used before their use-by date to avoid upsetting your guests' stomachs.
While stock rotation is a very important duty, commis chefs will be expected to assist as it can be a laborious job to do.
6. Training and Learning
Commis chefs are expected to quickly learn the basics on the job. But your employer will be expecting you to continue finding new ways to learn and develop your skills.
When the commis chef starts, they are usually inexperienced and so, the first few months on the job will be an overload of information. The chef is expected to take in this information and get the basics down. If you want to stand out, you need to then show initiative and understanding of the many different aspects of the work involved.
7. Cleaning Stations
An important responsibility of the commis chef is to tidy up after the other chefs and clean the different stations.
Keeping the stations clean helps to reduce the chance of food contamination spreading and customers complaining of food poisoning. And another important reason is to maintain health and safety in the kitchen. Food and liquids on the floor can cause slips, trips and falls. When chefs are working so quickly, it can be difficult to always watch where you're walking. The commis chef helps keep the kitchen clean and tidy.
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They are a wide variety of roles and responsibilities involved when working in a kitchen. The nature of the work and the overload of information and fast-paced environment mean that it can be difficult to understand whats expected in each role. Our Free guide lists every chef job in the industry and explains what responsibilities they each have in an easy to understand way. You can learn more about commis chefs and their salary expectations, along with every other chef job.