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What is a Chef De Partie?

Updated May 16, 2024
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A chef de partie is a cook who is in charge of one area of a restaurant's kitchen. In smaller kitchens, he or she may work alone, while in larger ones, a chef de partie may supervise others working at the same station. This position also might be termed a line cook or station chef, and is responsible for preparing specific dishes. As with any position in a restaurant's kitchen, this cook needs to thrive in a high-pressure environment; time management and organization are as vital as culinary skills to this position.

Kitchen Hierarchy

In a typical kitchen's chain-of-command, the chef de partie would be the third in charge, following the head chef, also known as the executive chef, and the sous chef. In this management position, a chef de partie would need to be comfortable taking orders from the head chef while managing his or her own staff. This is not typically an entry-level position as it requires culinary expertise and the ability to work independently.

A large kitchen may have more than one chef de partie, and a hierarchy accompanies those who share this title. Some kitchens may label the second in command of the line cooks as a demi chef de partie, while others may assign hierarchy based on responsibility, with the saucier as the most senior position. This chef is typically in charge of all sautés, appetizers, and finishing sauces.

Types of Chefs de Partie

Each station in a kitchen may have its own chef de partie, who focuses on cooking a certain type of food or preparing foods in a certain way. The poissonier is in charge of preparing all fish, while the rotisseur handles roasted meats and the friturier deep fries foods. Vegetables are prepared by the entremetier and the patissier makes desserts and pastries. The chef de garde, or pantry chef, is responsible for all cold foods, including salads and cold hors d'oeuvres. A chef de partie who fills in where needed is referred to as a roundsman, swing cook, or tournant.

Kitchen Organization

The complex system of kitchen organization was developed by Georges Auguste Escoffier, who largely is credited with modernizing the grand hotel dining in Europe in the late 1800s. Previously, grand dining involved large buffets of food where guests served themselves; Escoffier simplified menus and served each course sequentially. The demands of a luxury hotel's guests meant that Escoffier was tasked with serving lavish meals in a short amount of time, so he needed to organize the kitchen in a way to get food out quickly without hurting its quality. Using his experience in the French Army, Escoffier developed brigade de cuisine, an exhaustive system with clear authority and responsibility. The system is still largely in use in restaurants today, with more formal kitchens retaining the French terms.

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Discussion Comments
By pistachios — On Jul 13, 2010

The position of chef de partie is not an entry level position. This coveted kitchen title is attained only through working one's way up from a lower level kitchen position. Experience is a must in order to be designated a chef de partie and culinary school training is sometimes a requirement based depending on the restaurant or organization.

By CrepeTime — On Jul 13, 2010

Chef de Parties generally earn between $20,000 and $34,000 per year. Larger organizations may pay more and salary is often dependent on the chef's level of experience. Chef de Parties may also enjoy a salary increase by accepting other job responsibilities and/or by training apprentices.

By cmsmith10 — On Jul 11, 2010

My brother went to culinary school and was able to land a job at one of Louisiana’s finest French restaurants. He is a chef de partie. There are actually different stations in the restaurant that require their own chef de partie. He works as the Poissonier. This is a fabulous name for the fish cook. He prepares all of the fish dishes.

He also works as a pastry chef on other days.

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