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An Assistant Chef, also known as an Assistant Cook usually works under the Head Chef or Sous Chef. Assistants Chefs work in cafes, restaurants, kitchens, and hotels, pretty much anywhere in the hospitality industry. Assistant Chef’s are usually responsible for preparing food preparation by instruction of more senior Chef, plating dishes in an attractive way, and ensuring high quality of food is leaving the kitchen. Assistant Chefs usually have experience in dish preparation and the techniques used to ensure the dish is correctly made. When working in larger kitchens Assistant Chefs will typically be assigned a station to prepare a specific course or dish.
Assistant Chefs spend their time in the kitchen preparing and cooking dishes and assisting other Chefs. The job duties are many for an Assistant Chef, from preparing starters, desserts, salads, breads and main courses. If the Assistant Chef works in a large kitchen, he/she may be assign a station to work on, where he/she would be responsible for a single course or preparing part of a dish, such as the vegetables.
1) Tidy, clean and prepare the kitchen
Assistant Chef’s may need to clean and tidy the kitchen before and after service. Ensuring high food hygiene standards are met by using the correct sanitizing products for cooking equipment, surfaces and ovens etc. Cleaning and tidying is key to organisation and ensuring the smooth operations of a kitchen and will always be performed after food service is finished so that the kitchen is ready for the next shift.
2) Food preparation
An important part of an Assistant Chefs task is to prepare food before service begins. This may include preparation of pasta, cleaning and preparing seafood, cutting meat, baking breads.
3) Food storage and organisation
Assistant Chefs can be responsible for food deliveries, sorting out correct storage of food products and removal of waste food products. Assistant Cooks may also have to ensure the volume of food required per day is ordered correctly and stored appropriately on a daily basis, along with the daily correct removal and disposal of waste food and sorting out food recycling.
4) Testing of new recipes
Head Chefs will often ask Assistant Chefs to test new food produce or recipes to see if they can be incorporated into the menu. You may also get asked to adjust or create your own dish, this is where your knowledge and taste buds come in to see what works best and will require creativity.
Like most chefs, an Assistant Chef is no different and the hours can be 40-60 hours per week, normally carried out over split service shifts covering breakfast/lunch and dinner service.
What can you expect to earn being an Assistant Chef? The position of Assistant Chef has a lot of responsibilities and as a key part of the team you will spend most of your time cooking and preparing food in the kitchen. Assistant Chefs salaries will vary depending on experience in the kitchen, but will typically be in the region of £10,000 to £19,000 per year. As of March 2017, the average salary for an Assistant Chef in the UK is £14,100 (Source: PayScale) If you are a student or have little experience you can expect to be on the lower end of the estimated salary range, however if you have graduated or have a culinary degree and high skill set with lots of experience you will be in high demand and hit the higher end of the salary bracket. As you progress in your Assistant Chef role, you will gain more experience and start to be more responsible for the operation of the kitchen, and should always aim to one day achieve the position of Head Chef or Executive Chef.