Within the culinary industry, the brigade system provides a method of organization in the kitchen. Each worker has a specific food preparation or cleaning duty in a specific location. The concept is designed to enable kitchens to run more efficiently and provide better service. Georges Auguste Escoffier is generally accredited with establishing the brigade system. After serving in the French army, he brought his experience with military hierarchy to the kitchen of the Savoy Hotel in the late 1800s.
The classic kitchen brigade had a station for everything, since it had no convenience food and had to make it all from scratch. While the modern brigade has been smoothed down to a skeleton crew of what it used to be. You may not be able to completely duplicate the Kitchen Brigade System in your kitchen, but if you understand it, you’ll at least know what it takes to get a meal together. And there may be parts of the system that you can adapt in your kitchen to make your meals even more successful than they already are.
A classic brigade kitchen consist of Chef de cuisine, Sous chef, Chef de garde, Chef de partie, Saucier, Poissonier, Garde manager, Butcher, Rotissiur, Grill cook, Fry cook, Entremetier, Potager, Legumier, Pastry Chef, Pastry Cook, Baker, Decorator, Tournant, Commis, Communard, and Expeditor. One hundred years ago, larger staffs were needed to work kitchens than are needed today. Fewer cooks are needed to staff today’s smaller operations equipped with modern conveniences and more limited menus. Despite the reduced staff size, a chain of command and the organization of tasks by stations still exist.
That is where the modern brigade system came in. Modern kitchens show less specialization, but the fundamental roles are the same. At the top is the executive chef, who is primarily a manger. If the chef owns multiple restaurants, each restaurant will typically have its own chef de cuisine managing the kitchen under the executive chef’s direction. Large operations might have an executive sous-chef to ease the executive chef’s workload. Under these top managers are the sous chefs. A large hotel might have several sous chefs, or a small restaurant might have only a lead ook, but the role is the same as in a classical brigade.
In many establishments the pastry chef runs a semi-autonomous kitchen in collaboration with the executive chef. In modern restaurant kitchens the roles of individual cooks aren’t as clearly defined, and except in large hotels or institutions there aren’t as many single-purpose work stations. Most cooking tasks are performed by line cooks, with more skilled and experienced cooks handling the most demanding jobs. Larger kitchens often designate a first cook or lead cook for that role, and first cooks will often supervise the kitchen in the sous-chef’s absence.
Less-experienced cooks begin by assisting at high-volume stations within the kitchen, or working independently in a less-demanding, lower-volume station. Large kitchens, and some smaller ones, employ prep chefs to perform basic duties such as peeling, cutting and portioning raw ingredients, or making stock and sauces. This frees up more experienced cooks for more skilled labor. Prep cooks are sometimes called cooks’ assistants, and help by continuously stocking a busy station during service. Apprentices are cooks in formal training programs, learning through a combination of on-the-job and classroom instruction.
They’re typically given opportunity to learn all positions in the kitchen, beginning with prep work and then moving onto the line. The dishwasher also plays a role in the kitchen, speeding needed utensils back into service and occasionally helping out with food preparation. As you can see modern and classic kitchens work the same because of the change of size in kitchens and modern appliances the brigade was changed a little. Although the system still works the same some chefs were merge because less people were needed to run the kitchens.