Restaurant Cooking Positions

Chef preparing meal in restaurant
Tara Moore/ Taxi/ Getty Images

Depending on the size and theme of your restaurant, you may have just one cook running the show, or you may have several cooks working together. The term chef and cook are often used interchangeably. Originally a chef was a professionally trained individual. Today, it is often applied to anyone who works in a kitchen. Here is a breakdown of the various cooking positions that can be found in one restaurant kitchen.

Executive Chef

This is the head chef. He is the guy (or girl) who creates the specials, orders the foods, and works as the general manager of the kitchen. He probably does the scheduling, the hiring and the firing of kitchen staff, as well. This position is normally filled by someone with several years cooking experience and restaurant management experience.

Sous Chef

The executive chef’s assistant and next in charge is a sous chef. It is the job of the sous chef to pick up the slack when the executive chef has a day off or is on vacation. They may need to fill in on the line, or work a particular station on busy nights. Many smaller restaurants don’t keep a sous chef on staff.


This is a non-cooking role on the kitchen line. An expediter is a person in charge of organizing orders by table, and garnishing the dishes before the server takes them out to the dining room. An expeditor is only needed when it is really busy.

The person who acts as an expeditor should be very familiar with the menu, and know what the dishes should look like before being served to guests.

Line Cook

The most common title in the kitchen is that of line cook. Depending on your kitchen set up and your menu, you may have two or three line cooks or as many as seven or eight, or more.

A line cook simply refers to a cook who is in charge of a particular station in the kitchen. For example, a line cook can include the following titles:

Sauté Chef- This person is in charge of anything cooked in a sauté pan. Usually it is the best cook on staff, behind the executive chef and sous chef.

Grill Cook- This person takes care of all of the items on the char-grill or flattop grill, such as meats, chicken and fish.

Fry Cook- This entry level position into the kitchen is in charge of anything that needs to be deep fried. French fries, chicken fingers, onion rings, all fall to this individual.

Bigger restaurants or those with a very specialized menu may employ these types of chefs as well:

Dessert Chef- The person who is charge of desserts. Many restaurants have servers prepare their own desserts. However, in more upscale or specialty eateries, a dessert chef prepares a bulk of the desserts as they are ordered.

Pastry Chef- This individual is in charge of making all the baked goods, such as breads and desserts. If you are thinking about a restaurant with a bakery, then you may employ a pastry chef.

Salad Chef- If a restaurant goes through a lot of salads, or other cold menu items, they may keep a salad chef on hand.

Caller- Another non-cooking position. The caller calls the incoming orders to the cooks. He (or she) tells the rest of the kitchen staff what they should be working on. Often times the executive chef will act as caller during the dinner rush. A caller needs to be quick witted and organized. They should know exactly how long menu items take to cook (a well-done prime rib takes much longer than a piece of grilled rare tuna steak) so that meals for a certain table all come out at the same time.

Hiring the right person for the job is important when filling restaurant positions int he kitchen. However, no matter how many positions you have in your restaurant kitchen, employees need to know how to work together and communicate effectively. Making sure that your staff is trained to do a variety of tasks in the kitchen can also help keep the flow of the kitchen smooth, ensuring that customers get the best possible food in a timely manner.