Career Story: Sous-Chef For A Gourmet Market

Sous-Chef For A Gourmet Market

Job Title: Sous Chef

Type of Company: I work for a gourmet market that caters everyday dinners. It also has a deli counter for lunches and provides hand-made baked goods for customers.

Education: BA, English, St. Anselm College

Previous Experience: I interned at a busy restaurant to see if the restaurant business is what I really wanted to do. After college, I worked a second job as a breakfast chef for a well-known local inn.

Job Tasks: My day starts at 4:30am. When I arrive, my first jobs are to prepare items we will use during the day. I turn the oven on to heat up for my daily jobs. For example, quiche dough I made the day before is taken out of the refrigerator to relax. When it's ready, I roll out the dough and put it into the quiche pans. Then, it is baked. While the baking is happening, I am peeling and slicing onions...a whole 5 gallon bucket. This will allow us enough onions for the quiche, soups of the day and other items on the menu. Other vegetables will be cleaned, peeled, and chopped in preparation for the other quiche ingredients. Onion and some veggies will be sauteed before becoming the filling of the quiche. Once the shells are baked, I have the filling for the quiche prepared. I add cheeses to the onions and veggies. Mix them together and place into the shells. During the baking of the shells, I have also mixed the eggs and cream with spices for the custard part of the quiche. I add the custard to the filling and sprinkle cheese on top. Then the quiches are ready for the oven again. They are cooked for another 1 1/2 hours. I then start to prepare the two soups of the day as well as other hors d'oeuvres we make for our customers.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: Getting up early is difficult but once I am at work talking with co-workers, it's really enjoyable. Sometimes the preparation work is tedious, but I know that the market counts on me to supply these things for our customers. Sometimes the biggest concern at work is the other people with whom I have to work. Some are easy to get along with, while others like it their way or no way. You have to be yourself but learn to adjust. The best part of this job is doing what I love...cooking and learning.

Job Tips: This type of career path has become the thing to do in recent years. Be sure to take extra courses on baking and culinary arts. If you are looking to become a pastry chef, take the technique and basics courses. Pay attention to detail. You will have to start in entry positions and work your way up in the kitchen. Don't be offended or feel it's beneath you to do something. Look for ways to do things efficiently. This will help you and the company save time and money.

Additional Thoughts: If I could change the way I came into this career, I would have started earlier. I wouldn't have gone to a Liberal Arts school. My high school covered a lot of liberal arts classes. I would have gone to culinary school to learn all aspects of food. I was lucky to have family and friends who helped me get into this field.

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