brigade system

An organizational system for professional kitchens instituted by Georges Auguste Escoffier toward the end of the 19th century. Escoffier established separate kitchen stations, each responsible for a certain part of the menu. This system proved so effective that a semblance of it is still in place in many of today's professional kitchens. The brigade system was modeled after French military organization, with the chef de cuisine (also called executive chef) acting as the "general." This system extended from the kitchen into the front of the house, and in some restaurant hierarchies, the chef de cuisine has authority over areas like the dining room and bar. The sous chef (which means "under chef") is the second-in-command. This person fills in for the chef de cuisine when necessary and may have other full-time duties such as scheduling or overseeing food preparation. Beneath these positions are chefs de partie, also known as station chefs or journeyman cooks. Each one is responsible for a station that produces specific parts of the menu. Depending on the size of the kitchen these stations may include more than one chef or cook; in smaller kitchens responsibilities for multiple stations might be combined into one. An aboyeur is a caller or one who receives the orders from the wait staff, calls out and routes the orders to the correct stations and checks and assembles orders for delivery to the dining room. A charcutière is the chef or cook in charge of charcuterie items such as pâtés, rillettes, galantines and crépinettes. The entremetier is the person or station in charge of not only vegetables but soups, pastas, egg dishes and other miscellaneous items. A friturier is the chef or station responsible for fried foods. The garde manger (or chef garde manger) is the person or station responsible for cold pantry items such as salads, pâtés, chaud-froids and other decorative dishes. The term garde manger also refers to the area in which such foods are prepared and stored. The grillardin is the person or station in charge of grilled foods. The pâtissier is in charge of baked goods, pastries and desserts; in large kitchens there may be a separate area with baking ovens, walk-in refrigerators and so on. The poissonier is responsible for fish dishes, the rotisseur is in charge of roasted items and associated sauces and the saucier handles sautéed items and any related sauces. A tournant is an experienced chef that rotates from station to station to fill in wherever needed. In the front of the house, the maître d'hôtel (maître d') is in charge of the dining room staff and is essentially the dining room manager. The chef de sale, or headwaiter, is responsible for service throughout the dining room, although this role is often filled by the maitre d' or dining room manager. A chef de rang is a dining room waiter, though one who's typically experienced and highly skilled in everything from proper table set-up and perfect delivery of food to dealing appropriately with the diner's needs. The chef de vin (also called sommelier) is the wine steward with responsibility for acquiring, storing and serving wine.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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