Restaurant Back of House Roles Defined

A restaurant kitchen can only run smoothly when all back of house roles and responsibilities are divided and defined. It needs to be clear who is in charge and that person must be able to assign specific responsibilities to the rest of the back of house employees. Although each restaurant varies depending on type and management style, the basic restaurant kitchen positions are head chef, sous chefs, line and prep cooks, and the dishwashers.

Head Chef

The Head Chef is the warden of the kitchen. He is essentially responsible for all back of house staff and every dish that they produce. Head chefs often have culinary schooling and a good deal of restaurant experience.

Head Chef Responsibilities:


  • Develop the menu and design new recipes
  • Decide/create the specials
  • Determine inventory needs and place orders with vendors
  • Manage all kitchen staff’s day-to-day responsibilities
  • Oversee preparation and ensure dishes are being assembled properly
  • Assist with cooking as needed
  • Ensure that the kitchen meets all state and federal regulations
  • Is ultimately responsible for all dishes that come out of the kitchen

Sous Chef

The Sous Chef’s responsibilities closely parallel those of the Head Chef. His job is to assist the Head Chef with whatever is needed so his position can vary greatly by restaurant and even day-to-day needs. Sous Chefs are most often aspiring Head Chefs, some with schooling experience but always with years of restaurant experience.

Sous Chef Duties:


  • Assist the Head Chef with whatever is needed
  • Work with the Head Chef to develop the menu
  • Assist in managing and overseeing kitchen operation
  • Help to cook, prep, or clean wherever needed
  • Is in charge of the kitchen when the Head Chef is away or unavailable

Line Cook

Line Cooks handle the brunt of the actual cooking that goes on in the back of house. You will often see them hunched over a grill or stock pot. The Line Cook is usually someone who has worked their way up through the kitchen or has recently finished culinary school.

Line Cook Responsibilities:


  • Set up and clean their own work stations each day
  • Are instructed by the Head Chef of what their daily duties are
  • Work the equipment and handle the majority of the cooking
  • Will do some prep (chopping or preparing sauces) as is needed
  • Will unload shipments and put inventory away in its proper place
  • Will assist in cleaning the kitchen
  • Must work closely with the other cooks to assemble dishes as needed

Prep Cook

Prep Cook is an entry level back of house position. They take on the most basic work and handle much of the cleaning. These positions are often filled with aspiring chefs or part time workers.

Prep Cooks Duties:


  • Assist Line Cooks by preparing all food to be cooked
  • Remove food packaging and wash food
  • Chop vegetables, grind meat, weigh/portion out ingredients
  • Take care of basic dishes like salads or stock soups
  • Clean and sanitize work spaces
  • Depending on the kitchen, sometimes assist with dish washing


Dishwashers require little experience and can be a great foot-in-the-door position for a back of house restaurant career.

Dishwasher Responsibilities:


  • Rinse all remaining food off of plates
  • Load dishes into racks and run the dishwasher
  • Put plates away when they are cleaned and dried
  • Hand wash larger stock pots and other items that cannot go in the dishwasher

Do you work in a restaurant and hold one of these positions? Let us know what responsibilities you have in the comments below!


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