If you're straight out of culinary school and looking for an opportunity to learn everything there is to know about working in a professional kitchen, then you should seek out a position as a commis chef. A commis chef is a junior chef who has just completed an apprenticeship or has an equivalent qualification. There's no escaping the fact that this is one of the lowest ranking jobs in the kitchen but it's the stepping stone to becoming a senior chef. It's hard, dirty and often physically demanding work and involves a lot of standing and lifting.
They rotate throughout the kitchen, spending a few months or so at a kitchen station before moving on to another one. At each kitchen station, the commis chef has the opportunity to learn from a senior chef who is in charge of that area. As a commis chef rotates throughout the kitchen, they usually decided which area they want to eventually specialise in. Although the commis chef is one of the lowest-ranking members of the kitchen staff, it is still an important role. The decisions that the commis chef makes affect how the kitchen runs and the quality of food the kitchen produces.
The most successful commis chefs are fast learners who develop their skills and ask senior chefs as many questions as possible. Naturally, the commis chef must maintain high standards of health and safety. They often perform very basic tasks of food preparation and organisation in the kitchen, which may be mundane but are still essential in any kitchen.
Working as a commis chef involves learning many different skills very quickly and putting those skills into practice in the kitchen.
A commis chef will usually be involved in general food production, preparing ingredients for a more senior chef, measuring dish ingredients, dealing with deliveries and stock rotation, and ensuring refrigerators, freezers and work areas are clean and tidy at all times.
- A passion for cooking
- Excellent listening skills
- Willingness to learn new things and handle criticism
- Ability to take direction