What's in a day?
As a chef de partie you get to oversee a section of the kitchen, be it pastry, butchery, fish, sauces, vegetables and so on. This is why the job is sometimes called a station chef or line cook. In large kitchens, you usually get help from a demi-chef de partie, commis or trainee chef. Chances are that you'll be cooking fine dining or French dishes, but modern kitchens offering informal or contemporary menus generally have two or three sections, too.
- Preparing, cooking and presenting dishes within your speciality
- Managing and training any demi-chef de parties or commis working with you
- Helping the sous chef and head chef to develop new dishes and menus
- Ensuring you and your team have high standards of food hygiene and follow the rules of health and safety
- Monitoring portion and waste control to maintain profit margins
What hours will I work?
You'll probably have to work split shifts and at least 40 hours a week.
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The best bit about being a chef de partie?
"This is a chance to work more closely with - and be inspired by - your head chef," says Tim Luff, head chef, The Fishes, a Peach Pub in North Hinksey, Oxford. "You can learn so much in this role and the inspiration you get is brilliant, especially in a really good kitchen."
And the worst?
"I'd have to say all the prep you still have to do, like peeling spuds."
What skills do I need?
- Great cooking skills
- A cool head
- An ability to delegate appropriately
- Organisational flair
- A grasp of profit margins
What qualifications do I need?
You can work your way up the kitchen brigade by taking the modern apprenticeship route as well as studying for an NVQ or SVQ. Alternatively, you can study full-time at college. Most chef de parties will have spent four years as a commis chef and have at least NVQ/SVQ Level 2 or equivalent under their toque. Other useful qualifications include:
- The 14-19 Hospitality & Catering diploma
- City & Guilds diplomas in professional cookery
- BTEC HND in professional cookery
- A foundation degree in culinary arts
- Any health and safety and food hygiene courses
Who would it suit?
Someone who's got bags of stamina and enjoys the fast pace of working in a kitchen. You also need to be able to stay calm and work as part of a team during a frenetic service. As head of your section you need to be confident enough to manage the commis chefs working with you - and to give them clear instructions.
What sort of salary can I expect?
The average UK salary for a chef de partie is £18,300 to £20,400, but obviously location and the style of restaurant will affect this.
Source: Totaljobs.com 2010
Where can I go from here?
The only way is up - to sous chef, executive chef. Or you could think outside the box and become a production chef, or take your skills abroad.
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