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How to become a Chef de Partie?

Overview

Job Role Chef de Partie (aka Line Chef, Section Chef, Station Chef)
Responsibilities Overseeing a section of the kitchen and preparing food within that section. Training any Demi Chef de Partie's and Commis Chef 
Salary

£11.53 per hour / £22,492 per year

Dress Code

Top: Usually a chef white (long or short sleeved) or plain t-shirt
Bottoms: Usually black or checkered chef trousers
Apron: Usually a plain or butcher’s striped apron
Shoes: Black kitchen-safe chef shoes
Hat: Chef’s scull cap and/or hair net if required

Handy Hints 

  • Don’t forget, presentation is key – this includes your uniform
  • Make sure your knives are sharp and you have all the tools you need for the job
  • Always be sure to take water or another drink to your shift and stay hydrated

What do I have to do to become a Chef de Partie? 

You’ve survived life as a commis chef; now it’s time to take on more responsibility but it can be tough. With probably the most exciting-sounding name in the kitchen, a chef de partie, often abbreviated to CDP, is the next step on the ladder. A demi chef de partie is like a stepping-stone role between commis chef and a fully-fledged CDP.

To get this promotion, you’ll need to show maturity, proficiency in the sections you’ve learnt, willingness to listen to the senior and head chefs, and an ability to take on board both their instructions and criticisms.

The hours will be similar to working as a commis chef, for a full-time role upwards of 40 hours a week. The average salary for a chef de partie in the UK is £22,492, according to caterer.com. You may also find similar-level roles under the titles of line chef, section chef or station chef.

You should know when it’s time to think about taking the next step up the ladder. Consider whether the place you’re currently working as a commis chef is somewhere you’d like to stay and take on the role of CDP, or whether it’s time to move kitchens.

If you do want to stay in the same workplace, find a quiet moment to talk to the head chef or ask to arrange a meeting. Explain that you’d like to be considered for promotion, or if you don’t have the confidence to ask straight away, ask them for advice on what you need to work on and improve in order to be considered for the role of chef de partie.

If you’re hoping to move kitchens, it’s time to start looking around for vacancies. It might best to keep this to yourself at first, or only tell a colleague who you really trust. You don’t want to risk creating any friction in a kitchen that you might be leaving. This is because you could end up staying for longer than expected or even change your mind and want to stay.

Once you have been formally offered another job, then it is probably the time to tell your current employer and make sure you give them at least a week or two’s notice. Always check your contract if you have one and leave on good terms. The cheffing world is a small world and you don’t want to leave any bridges burned that you may cross again in the future.

As with previous chef roles you’ve applied for you will most likely be asked to go into the workplace for a short interview or ‘chat’ and a trial. Make sure you create a great first impression, and think about the questions you want to ask about the role. Whether it’s about what hours you’ll work, the pay, what support and training you’ll have, don’t be shy to enquire. Asking questions shows you’ve thought about the role and are genuinely interested in working in a particular workplace.

So what does it take to become a chef de partie? Michael Turnbull, who is currently a demi CDP at Malmaison Newcastle, says: “To be a great chef de partie, I need to be organised and ready for every service. I need to constantly think about tidying up as I go along and try to better myself every day. I also need to be dedicated to the role as some days can involve fairly long hours.”

Turnbull advises that you should always listen to your head chef and respect their experience and knowledge. “My current head chef, Sandeep, worked his way from kitchen porter to head chef, in a country where people do not speak his first language, and progressed to the role with skill, commitment and determination. Sandeep respects us in the kitchen environment and we respect him in return,” he adds.

“Working together with other members of the team to fulfill our roles and keep the kitchen running smoothly is like an orchestra. We each need to play our individual roles to ensure that the food comes together according to specifications in a timely manner during a busy service.”

He also points out that one benefit of working for a large hospitality group is that there are more chances for internal promotion; as well as opportunities to move locations within its UK hotels or around the world.

You may be working as a CDP for many years, and so there is the chance for movement and progression within this role. It usually involves being in command of different sections within the kitchen, each one with lots to learn from.

In larger kitchens especially, you’ll also have a junior chef working with you on your section. It’s one of your responsibilities to help the junior chef, show them how to produce menu items and make sure they’re working to the required standard. But you’ll have to earn their respect, so make sure you’re always leading by example. For example, you can’t expect someone to work in a clean manner if you are leaving food prep and dirty equipment all over the bench.

Keep pushing yourself as you gain more experience in the kitchen under your belt. With better knife skills, experience of plating up, the ability to teach junior members of the team and effectively master your section, it may be time to start thinking about moving up to the role of sous chef, or junior sous chef.

Browse the latest chef de partie jobs 

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