If you've never worked in a restaurant, you might be confused by all the different terms used in the back of the house. Even on the kitchen line, there are specific positions that go beyond "chef" or "cook." You do not have to staff your kitchen with each of these positions, though. Many of these jobs can be done by one person, such as combining the dishwasher and the porter responsibilities into one position.
Common Restaurant Back of House Terms
- Caller: The person who calls the incoming orders to the cooks. Often times the executive chef will act as a caller during the dinner rush.
- Dessert Chef: The person who is in charge of desserts. It's helpful to have someone dedicated to making desserts if the desserts require special presentation.
- Dishwasher: The person in charge of cleaning dishes and often cleaning the kitchen at the end of each night. It's always a good idea to be nice to the dishwasher, to make sure they want to come back to work the next shift.
- Executive Chef: Also known as the head chef. This is the person who creates the specials, orders the foods, and works as the general manager of the kitchen.
- Expeditor: This is a non-cooking role on the kitchen line. An expediter is the person in charge of organizing orders by table and garnishing the dishes before the server takes them out to the dining room.
- Fry Cook: This is a line cook in charge of anything that needs to be deep-fried.
- Grill Cook: This is a line cook in charge of the items on the char-grill or flattop grill, such as meats, chicken, and fish.
- Line Cook: The most common title in the kitchen is that of line cook. It refers to any cook working at a particular station along the kitchen line.
- Porter: A person brought in at the end of the night to help clean the kitchen.
- Sauté Chef: This is a line cook in charge of anything cooked in a sauté pan.
- Sous Chef: The executive chef's assistant and next in charge.
Other areas that may have their own staff include salads and pizza if those are a large part of your restaurant menu. Again, each kitchen is different and what works for one restaurant may look totally different in another. Positions may change over time, as the business grows and menu trends change. Being flexible and nimble about your back of the house staff will help your restaurant flourish.
Understanding the different terms used in the back of the house of a restaurant can help you better plan the layout of your commercial kitchen as well as your restaurant menu.