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“Cooking is the art and science of preparing food for eating by the application of heat”. The term also includes the full range of culinary techniques: preparing raw and cooked foods for the table; final dressing of meats, fish, and fowl; cleaning and cutting fruits and vegetables; preparing salads; garnishing dishes; decorating desserts; and planning meals.


A simple distinction between chef and cook:

  • A chef is trained to master culinary forms, but also to provide creative innovation in menu, preparation and presentation.
  • A cook is trained to master forms of food preparation, but usually takes close direction from a chef.

Types of chefs

From Chef Jobs, Training, and Career Paths

The French Brigade system was originally employed to make the kitchen run as smoothly as possible. Typical roles begin at the top with Executive Chef, followed by Sous Chef, followed again by Senior Chef.  Other chefs might be solely responsible for one aspect of the menu like grilled foods, sauces, fried foods, or fish.

Within the brigade system, there are ten primary stations that must be staffed. Smaller establishments will often combine one or more stations together and assign them to a single chef in order to maximize the efficiency of a limited kitchen staff. Larger establishments, on the other hand, may add additional stations in order to further distinguish some of the individual specializations within each larger station.

  • The role of the saucier, commonly known as the sauce chef, is often the highest respected role in the kitchen brigade system of stations, reporting directly to the head chef or sous-chef. The saucier is responsible for a variety of tasks, such as sautéing foods and preparing soups and stews, however, their most vital role lies within the creation of all sauces and gravies that are meant to accompany other dishes.
  • The poissonnier, commonly referred to as the fish chef, is responsible for the preparation of all fish dishes in the kitchen. This can include acquiring fresh fish on a daily basis from local fishermen or other merchants, as well as bringing in non-local catches, as needed, to supplement the menu. The poissonnier is also in charge of preparing all of the fish dishes on the menu, whether they are entrees or appetizers. In smaller kitchens, the poissonnier will often prepare any sauces that need accompany the fish, in the absence of a saucier. This would also make him responsible for any fish stocks or soups as well.
  • The rotisseur, also known as the roast chef, is in charge of preparing any roasted or braised meats on the menu. This includes anything from steaks to veal to lamb or any other similar items. The rotisseur may also be in charge of obtaining meats from local suppliers or arranging deliveries from other retailers. The cooking styles used often focus on cooking the meats very slowly in order to hold in as much flavor as possible. Many meats are also braised, which involves searing the outside of the meat to lock in moisture and then cooking it in the oven or on a stove to bring out the flavor of the meat and obtain a tender cut.
  • The grillardin, also known as the grill chef, is, as the name implies, responsible for any foods that must be grilled. This can include meats, poultry, or even vegetables.
  • The friturier, more commonly known as the fry cook, handles any foods that must be cooked in oils or other animal fats. Like the grillardin, the friturier can handle anything from meats to potatoes to vegetables.
  • The entremetier station is where one would find the vegetable chef. Unlike other stations that are managed by a single chef, larger establishments may often choose to employ two different chefs to work the entremetier station. A potager chef would be in charge of making any soups that are on the menu and a legumier chef would be in charge of preparing any vegetable dishes.
  • The tournantis the all-purpose chef in the kitchen brigade. The role is designed to move from station to station, assisting with any tasks, as needed. The tournant, along with his commis, must have a broad knowledge of the basic operations of each station, allowing him to step in when another station member is absent or the workload approaches a more hectic pace.
  • The garde manger, also known as the pantry chef, is in charge of most cold dishes on the menu. This includes various salads and cold appetizers, such as pate, cheese spreads, or even tartars. The garde manger is also in charge of making any large buffet services look presentable. This is typically done with a variety of decorative vegetables and other food items, particularly when they are carved or molded into unique and artistic designs.  Ice carving is a garde manger discipline that sets some specialists apart from their contemporaries.
  • The boucher is in charge of preparing all meats and poultry before they are delivered to their respective stations for preparation in menu dishes. Also commonly referred to as a butcher, the boucher may also handle fish and seafood preparations as well.
  • The patissier, also known as a pastry chef, is typically one of the most beloved of all the station chefs, particularly for the dishes he is charged with preparing. This station is responsible for creating or preparing baked goods, such as breads and pastries.  Sweet breads and croissants are the breakfast bounty of pastry chefs, but sophisticated chocolates and petit fors provide elegant proof that this is an artistic discipline.


  • 776 BC According to the earliest records, only one athletic event was held in the ancient Olympics–a foot race of about 183 m (200 yd), or the length of the stadium. A cook, Coroibus of Elis, was the first recorded winner.
  • Archestratus, a Greek, wrote the first cookbook, Hedypathia (Pleasant Living), in the 4th century BC.
  • 3rd Century A.D. Mary or Marianne an alchemist of Alexandria lived. She is credited with the discovery of the properties of the bain marie, from whom the name is derived: Mary’s bath.
  • 7th Century A.D. The Patron Saints of cooks lived in this century: Fortunat; a famous poet and Bishop of Poitiers is the Patron saint of Male cooks and Radegonde; the patron saint of female cooks, founded a monastery that Fortunat became chaplain of
  • 1809 Frenchman Nicolas Appert develops the first effective method for canning food.
  • 1846 Georges Auguste Escoffier, born October 28, 1846, d. Feb. 12, 1935


this project is in HistoryLink