dcsimg

Busy Days And Nights Can Serve Big Payoffs For Sous Chefs

by Joe Cooper
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Becoming a sous chef -- the coveted role beneath the executive chef or chef de cuisine -- takes a culinary education and years of experience. It is a career builder, and generally a sous chef position opens doors to bigger opportunities. With only a few hundred thousand of them in the country, competition is fierce.

A Culinary Career Builder

Sous, meaning "under" or "underneath" in French, is the kind of chef who runs the production in a kitchen. The executive chef spends much of his or her time in an office, making executive decisions about the menu and the restaurant. It is the job of the sous chef to command the kitchen and keep things running smoothly, supervising staff, and overseeing all operations. Sous chefs usually have experience in all areas of the kitchen.

Going to culinary school, while not absolutely required for some culinary jobs, is important in today's competitive job market. Most sous chefs who are considered for higher positions have attended culinary school, and they credit their education for their success. Many universities are adding culinary programs to their offerings, and some even offer externships after graduation--perfect opportunities for starting your culinary career.

The Life of a Sous Chef

Long hours on your feet and a pace that can knock your socks off are common. Once you adjust to the intricacies of running a chaotic kitchen, you can make a name for yourself through the quality of the food, the cleanliness and function of the kitchen, and the reputation of the restaurant.

Culinary Compensation

While most salaries begin humbly (hourly rates for sous chefs without experience can be as low as $8 or $9 per hour), the ending can be as satisfying as a good meal. While you might make between $25,000 and $40,000 per year as a new sous chef, you can get promoted to executive sous chef and make up to $60,000. Hourly rates can increase to as much as $125 in prominent hotels, too.

Beyond that, if you do well and make a name for yourself as a sous chef, you can be elevated to an executive chef position. Going from "sous" to "executive" can mean an annual salary of over $100,000 and even up past the $200,000 mark.

To Sous is Divine

Rafael Gonzalez, a sous chef from Miami, FL, gained important experience in New York before recently moving to Canada. He calls the ingredients and professionals he works with "astonishing," and says that he loves New York for this reason. "It just doesn't get better than this."

Gonzalez enjoyed the auspicious post of sous chef at The Pierre in The Pierre Hotel New York, a Four Seasons hotel. There he was discovered by a prominent restaurant manager, who moved him to a Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver and up the food ladder from sous to executive chef.

The sky's the limit for those willing to roll up their sleeves as a sous chef. With education, experience, and ambition, a prosperous culinary career awaits those chefs who have the drive to succeed.

Sources:

  1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics
  2. Boston Works
  3. Chefs Employment
  4. Inside Indiana Business
  5. Travel Video


About the Author

Joe Cooper is a freelance education and technology writer and edits medical literature. He holds a bachelor's in American Literature from UCLA.
Culinary Art Schools
Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Showing schools in your area

            Matching School Ads
            Associate of Science in Culinary Arts
            • See how Keiser University can transform your love of cooking into culinary greatness
            • Keiser’s Center for Culinary Arts is accredited by the American Culinary Federation
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic prep, & hands-on experience
            • A World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) Quality Culinary Education program
            • Ranked #42 in 2018 Best Value Schools in U.S. News & World Report
            • Online Courses
            Professional Culinary Arts
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            B.S. in Hospitality Management
            • Do you have entrepreneurial visions to advance your career in the business world? Learn about the options available at GCU.
            • Earn a competitive bachelor's or master's degree in the areas of business administration, business analytics, accounting, marketing and more.
            • Many of our business degrees have attained elite accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP).
            • GCU nurtures the startup spirit, propelling your entrepreneurial visions on a powerful platform with opportunities to help you thrive.
            • Pursue a next-generation education with an online program or join Grand Canyon University's vibrant and growing campus community in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona.
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Accelerated Programs
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Hotel & Restaurant Management
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
            • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
            • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Search Schools Near You
            Subject :
            Degree :
            Zip Code :
            Culinary Articles
            10 Colleges with Delicious Dining Hall Food
            Forget boring college cafeteria dining: campus food can be both healthy and delicious. Here's a look at 10 colleges where you might actually enjoy getting your grub on.
            Four International Cuisines Influencing the American Foodscape
            Ethnic cuisines are an integral part of America's culinary landscape, and none more so than these perennial favorites.
            5 Ethnic Cuisines for Serious Foodies
            Love food? Want to broaden your culinary horizons? These five international cuisines might be an excellent starting place.
            Healthy home cooked meals can improve health, longevity and family social community
            Read how cooking at home rather than eating out can help you live longer, reduce the risk of cancer and improve family dynamics. Not only has cooking at home become the hip choice, it's also become the smart choice.