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How long did it take you to become a Sous Chef?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hello, I was just curious how long it took some of you to become a Sous Chef after graduating culinary school or after you started working at a restaurant.

post #2 of 27

I think this will range for every single person. I have worked as " sous" chef in smaller places after 2-3 years and by small i mean high end resorts with very talented chefs so i basically prepped and ran private dinners for small amounts on my own. As of last week i just accepted my first Sous spot at a reasonable restaurant. i dont think its so much a time line its easy to get lost in the flash and the title but more realistic wonder if you can offer a proper level of skill to what you are trying to do and i think its more important working lower spots at better restaurants than better spots at worse places. just my thoughts. 

post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 

Congratulations on your recent promotion and thank you for the insight, it was very helpful and that's what I'm doing now by starting a new job at a fine dining restaurant, but at a lower position than what I was at my previous regular casual restaurant.

post #4 of 27

Honestly that is your best choice. the job i have just taken was by word of mouth credentials and i actually recieved a call and an offer so its better to work your way through the trenches and spend some time. not only are the skills you will learn at a better place much more useful the contacts are equally if not more useful. This industry is incredibly small the higher you start to climb. 

post #5 of 27

It took me about 4 years before I was able to secure a "sous chef" position. I also think sous chef title is a relative term. It takes a lot longer to acquire a sous chef position in a higher-end restaurant than it does in a commisary, or even a catering business. It also depends on your level of expertise and where you're applying at.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #6 of 27

4 years to become a sous chef in large pastry kitchen, and another 4 yers to become a cdp in a 4star hotel then 1 more year till sous chef!!

but i alot of the second 4 years doing ith pastry and main kitchen together. i prefer just cooking these days! i dont love the stress prefer just doing my job :) MAKING GOOD MEALS

post #7 of 27

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post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thank you to all that replied with your knowledge. I'm 21 and just starting out in the business.I m about to get my bachelors degree in foodservice administration and then in 2 years I plan on going to kendall college to get my culinary degree in, but I just wanted to get a feel so I have something to set my goals on.

post #9 of 27

It will all depend on your own abilities, the place you are working at, and the people you are working with. I always like to start in the trenches (working the line), and the spots I was promoted to sous I moved up fairly quickly (most recently one month at a lower volume place). Then there are other places where there was little to no movement for me, whether it was lack of compensation, lack of opportunity, or being kept at a position in fear of crushing others' egos.

 

If you have the work-ethic, stamina, efficiency, and discipline you will get yours in no time. 

'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

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'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

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post #10 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcao91 View Post

Thank you to all that replied with your knowledge. I'm 21 and just starting out in the business.I m about to get my bachelors degree in foodservice administration and then in 2 years I plan on going to kendall college to get my culinary degree in, but I just wanted to get a feel so I have something to set my goals on.

Junglist....you hit the nail...

 

jcao91.......Allow me to enlighten you.

You are not a Sous Chef after just a few years.

 

In fact.......

the Sous Chef definition these days has been bastardized so much that anybody is called the name.

It has more to do with personal ego and titles than it has to do with the job description.

 

In fact:

The Sous has to be the Chef's right hand man.

They are closer than a husband and wife.

 

The Sous knows all that the Chef knows.

This fact alone, makes most cooks with this title irrelevant and meaningless.

 

So my young friend, it takes many years or work experiences and being exposed to many different kinds of food preparation before someone can be called a Sous Chef.  

 

Many Sous Chefs only know what they know from where they are working....

You get them away from their comfort zone and you'll quickly find that they really don't know much.

Don't get caught up in the bologna that everyone is feeding you.

 

I have been in this business for over 40 years and I have seen many examples of what I just said.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Oh I know. I didn't mean to sound like after I graduate that I'll automatically become a sous chef. I wanted to know the typical time in years it took people to become a sous chef after they graduated  or got a job in a restaurant and how long it took them to become one after they started with that restaurant. Its going to take several long and hard years for me to become one and I know that.

post #12 of 27
It took me about ten years to become a sous chef. Working at that same place for 5 years.
post #13 of 27

I just started my path in the cooking business. My current goal is to become a Sous Chef, and from what I learned it really does all depend on you. I have not gone to school and I have little experience but as long as I keep learning I feel confident I can achieve my goals. Take initiative, ask questions, work hard, it is exhausting some times but it is worth it to me, to one day manage a restaurant and be a real chef. I've noticed a lot of my coworkers have been doing the same thing for years, 10 or 15 plus years working in the same station, a comfort zone as it was explained to me. When I asked my Sous Chef for advice he told me to learn as much as I can, to know how to work everything in the kitchen, he told me about a workers value to the kitchen. I looked at my self and wondered how valuable am I. good luck jc, maybe we will both be Sous Chef's some time, i hope.

post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

It looks like were on the same boat here. Thank you for your advice candymachine and good luck to you too! Im going to hold off on culinary school becasue I dont know if its worth it and since I just got a job at a nice restaurant that uses seasonal local ingredients, which that is what I love! So, Im going to see how high I can climb the ladder in this kitchen first and learn everything I possibly can.

post #15 of 27

my honest thoughts especially after working with quite a lot of students lately. for the moment put off school work your way up, take the 30-100+ k you would spend on school and find your way into an amazing unpaid place or the best place that will let you in the door. 

post #16 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pirate-chef View Post

my honest thoughts especially after working with quite a lot of students lately. for the moment put off school work your way up, take the 30-100+ k you would spend on school and find your way into an amazing unpaid place or the best place that will let you in the door. 

Thank you for the advice pirate chef. I was really in a debate with myself if I should go to culinary school or not and if it was worth it because taking another $20,000-30,000 in student loans is a lot especially if the culinary degree wont even get me into more higher quality kitchens. I know with or without culinary school you would start at the bottom of the kitchen when you first started, but I didnt know if having a culinary background would make you move up faster than a person without a background, but I guess its really up to whomever is better at the job.

post #17 of 27

I know, like most opinions, everyone has one so here is mine. I started out in Flint in a couple supper clubs until I was able to hook up with a CECACF and spent a 3yr apprentiship with him. Very valuable time spent. In 43 yrs in the business, I held no title except chef is the kitchen. I did hold a title when I taught Tech School in Wisconsin. Yes a title brings you more $$ is bigger cities , but in a college town like Mt. P.  I don't think you will find it nessecery for the title. Yes schooling will help in terms and knolege of product. yes you will get preperation expeiance. but for me the school of hard knocks did the same without a big bill. If you need help and ideas, I am just up the road from you in Gladwin. I offer my help and knolege anytime.
 

post #18 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToothlessBeaver View Post

I know, like most opinions, everyone has one so here is mine. I started out in Flint in a couple supper clubs until I was able to hook up with a CECACF and spent a 3yr apprentiship with him. Very valuable time spent. In 43 yrs in the business, I held no title except chef is the kitchen. I did hold a title when I taught Tech School in Wisconsin. Yes a title brings you more $$ is bigger cities , but in a college town like Mt. P.  I don't think you will find it nessecery for the title. Yes schooling will help in terms and knolege of product. yes you will get preperation expeiance. but for me the school of hard knocks did the same without a big bill. If you need help and ideas, I am just up the road from you in Gladwin. I offer my help and knolege anytime.
 

Thank you toothless for your response and I know having a title isn't going to help that much in a town like mt. pleasant, but I plan to Chicago in a couple years so Im not sure how it is there.

post #19 of 27

The certification is more than a title.  It is more important in a country club setting and hotels and, within the ACF it is a definitely sign of respect.

 

Most importantly if you want to get your CMC you need to be a CEC first.

post #20 of 27
Be a great cook first. Titles come later. 10 years in any craft is typical to journeymen.
Skip school. Get credit cards and spend all that on books and food and wine and travel and knives.
You are a sous chef when your chef decides its so and he has taken the time to invest his own time in educating you so that you can take his place one day. Sous chef term is relative to the kitchen that bastardizes the meaning.
post #21 of 27

It also depends on the size of the operation.  A hotel may have many sous chefs, each in charge of a certain operation in the kitchen.  Restaurant sous may be in reality the restaurant chef with full charge of the restaurant.

post #22 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your opinion!

post #23 of 27
Racking up credit card debt is terrible advice.
post #24 of 27
I would prefer a little credit card debt with some great material goods in hand then a bad tasting debt from school to carry around paying off with a low wage job...
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by alamoelle View Post

I would prefer a little credit card debt with some great material goods in hand then a bad tasting debt from school to carry around paying off with a low wage job...

 

Debt it debt, you're stll gonna have a low wage job, regardless of how many books or knives you buy.

post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by alamoelle View Post

I would prefer a little credit card debt with some great material goods in hand then a bad tasting debt from school to carry around paying off with a low wage job...

You said use credit cards in the plural not even credit card in the singular ...you could put the OP into a situation that could take years to get out off if they listened to your advice.Books and knives are material goods,food and wine are material goods until you eat and drink them,travel is never a material good.I think travel is extremly important for anybody but even more so for a cook or chef.I also think living in different places is way more valuable than taking a holiday every now and again because you get to see the real culture and not the lonely planet version of it.If you are living somewhere new you are getting the experience and being paid to be there and not using a credit card or savings.
I always think that experience is better than school but I'd rather have a student loan at 5% from taking a course that would help me get a better job than paying 18% on my mastercard so I could tell people about the best baguette that I've ever had in Paris or the pork knuckle in Bavaria or the dim sum in Hong Kong.
If you can't buy a book every payday or a knife every month get a better job.Oh yeah......if you are in a situation where you can't move save as much money as you can and go have a really good baguette in Paris or a pork knuckle in Bavaria or dim sum in Hong Kong but don't go in debt to do it.
post #27 of 27
Hello, whatever you do don't use credit cards!
I'm 20, I quit school at 13 and trained as a chef, I have ony been out clubbing/doing normal teenager stuff a handful of times and my 7 years of hard work is paying off. I'm senior sous chef for Marco Pierre White now with hopes of becoming head chef in the next few months! We have a brigade of 8 talented chefs. And like someone said earlier me and my head chef are like brothers.
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