Kitchen Brigade: Ultimate List of Kitchen Staff and Descriptions

The kitchen brigade system is a hierarchy where each team member has an assigned role. This military-like structure allows for efficient organization and maximum productivity.

The French Revolution was a turning point in food history. They formed their back-of-house teams like army brigades and made them work as one to produce consistent dishes.

If you’ve been organizing your kitchen staff ad hoc and are finding problems with their performance, the brigade system may be a good option for your restaurant. Here is what we will cover in this guide to the kitchen brigade system: 

  • The kitchen brigade system is a hierarchy of who does what. There are five people, including chef de cuisine and sous-chef.
  • In a restaurant, the kitchen brigade system is one of many ways to organize your staff. It involves splitting up tasks among stations and assigning workers to those particular stations.
  • One of the most common kitchen hierarchy structures is called “the brigade system.”
  • A kitchen job requires a lot of work and responsibility, especially if you are on the line.

Run your restaurant kitchen the right way and create a policy manual for your restaurant to standardize policies, guidelines, and processes.

 

What is a kitchen brigade system?

Each person has a specific role essential to running smoothly in the kitchen brigade system. This provides high efficiency and makes everyone feel like doing something important.

The brigade de cuisine is a group of 20+ chefs with different jobs. They include an executive chef, sous-chef, and line cooks (who oversee particular stations). Examples of these are the potager, in charge of soups; the Poissonnier for seafood dishes; and finally the pâtissier managing pastry programs.

The kitchen brigade system was initially used in fine dining, but it is less commonly seen today because of more casual restaurant concepts.

Fast food kitchens have a lot in common with brigade de cuisine, initially intended for full-service restaurants. They both divide the kitchen into stations and require line cooks to work them.

History of the kitchen brigade system

In the 19th century, a French chef named Georges-Auguste Escoffier developed an innovative system for organizing kitchens. It was known as “the kitchen brigade” and allowed cooks to work in teams to prepare food while another prepared sauces or other parts of the meal.

Escoffier revolutionized the kitchen by applying military principles to it. He came up with the brigade system because he had experienced as a chef in France’s army.

kitchen brigade

 

What are the benefits of having a kitchen brigade in your restaurant?

Fine dining restaurants usually have the most strict hierarchy, but even more casual establishments can still benefit from a kitchen brigade system.

As general manager of Montréal restaurant Elena, Ellen Eamon has found that kitchen brigade systems can be beneficial in delineating responsibilities and hierarchy.

Lindsay Brennan, co-owner of Tinc Set restaurant in Williamsburg, agrees. 

“It’s important to have a kitchen brigade system because it helps create an efficient and organized team,” 

she said.

This makes an orderly environment where chefs oversee their staff, and line cooks focus on perfecting techniques that they’re responsible for instead of cooking from start to finish.

The brigade system is also an excellent way to incentivize employees. Brennan says that

“it creates an incentive for staff members to commit and see the clear path of development within the company.”

The system helps employees understand the next step in their career, like a junior sous chef being promoted to sous chef. Eamon explained.

The brigade de cuisine system is an excellent way to maintain kitchen order and efficiency in your restaurant. Click To Tweet

 

What is the hierarchy in a kitchen brigade?

The chef de cuisine is second-in-command to the executive chef, but some restaurants have an executive or a chef. Below the head of kitchen staff is sous chefs.

In a kitchen, the hierarchy is often organized into stations. Some may have many chefs working at them, while others are limited to one or two people. For example, if there’s a pastry station, it might be staffed by someone specializing in making desserts and another person specializing in beebread.

 

Kitchen roles in the Brigade system: Who do you need to employ for your kitchen staff?

kitchen brigade

Chef Exécutif (Executive Chef)

The executive chef is not as involved in day-to-day kitchen operations, but they are responsible for its menu and concept. They work on strategy instead of tasks.

A typical executive chef’s salary is around $61,000.

Chef de Cuisine (Kitchen Leader) 

Unlike the executive chef, who is usually focused on running food operations for an entire restaurant chain or large company (rather than a single kitchen), the chef de cuisine manages day-to-day activities in one particular kitchen.

The chef de cuisine is in charge of overseeing the kitchen staff and can make hiring decisions. They also take on administrative tasks like food safety, inventory management, and executing the executive chef’s vision for menus by developing recipes.

The average salary for a chef de cuisine is USD 61,000.

A study of chef salaries found that the average executive chefs are about $53,000. However, this data does not consider how many restaurants will have one person fulfilling both roles – when they do, the executive chef often earns more than a cook.

Sous Chef de Cuisine (Sous Chef)

The sous chef de cuisine is the deputy of a high-ranking position in French kitchens. The role helps oversee line cooks and assists with management duties, stepping in for the higher ranking when needed.

The average salary for a sous chef is USD 45,000.

Chef de Partie (Line Cook)

The brigade system is what you would find in a restaurant kitchen. There are stations for every type of food preparation, and chefs de cuisine oversee them all. The specific title depends on the station.

TA few key kitchen positions have been most crucial to the culinary process. A saucier, for example, is in charge of creating all sauces and stocks used at the restaurant, while a friturier handles fried items.

The average line cook earns about $35,000 a year.

Commis Chef (Junior Chef)

In the traditional brigade system, line cooks have chefs that work with them. These junior chefs help execute orders at their assigned stations by enabling them to prepare dishes such as fish or sauces.

The average salary for a junior chef is USD 44,500D*

Restaurants with both line cooks and junior chefs typically pay the latter more.

Plongeur (Dishwasher)

The dishwasher is critical because they clean dishes and put them away for another service round. They make sure to dry and organize all of the dishes.

Dishwashers make about $24,000 a year on average.

If you need to hire staff for seasonal jobs, consider hiring temporary workers.

 

Adapting the kitchen brigade system for modern restaurants

A legacy of the brigade system is that it made kitchens easier to manage when restaurants were more prominent and less prevalent. Click To Tweet

With casual dining being more popular, smaller restaurant sizes increased labor costs, and a decline in fine-dining establishments, most kitchen brigades have been reduced from 20 people to 8 or 10 employees with specific roles for each member.

Tinc Set can reduce its staff, including the kitchen team of four people. “All four people contribute to preparation before service and execution during service,” Brennan explains.

Across Montreal, the restaurant Elena has adapted its positions with Italian flair. “Elena isn’t a traditional French kitchen,” Eamon explains, “so we don’t have all of the brigade positions.” “While French kitchens would typically include a saucier position on staff,” he continues, “we only need pizzaiolos at our establishment.”

It is difficult to find enough staff members for the kitchen because of the pandemic. But, at their restaurant, they have found a way around this problem by reducing hierarchy so that everyone has more responsibility which allows them to spend time training people on how things should be done.

Elena’s team has been working on a project that helps laid-off restaurant workers in Montréal. They have created and sold products to raise money for the organization.


 

Adopt the kitchen brigade system for maximum efficiency in your BOH

The kitchen brigade system organizes the restaurant’s workforce to ensure maximum efficiency and consistency. Restaurants have used it, but companies’ organizational structures also change as their needs change.

We all know that there are many things to keep track of when running a restaurant. Fortunately, Lightspeed Restaurant POS has you covered.

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