Food Service Positions and Job Titles

Back of House

Efficient kitchens are well-organized kitchens. Most kitchens are organized into stations or sections, with each responsible for preparing different food or menu items. All the stations together form what is called the line. Usually, each station on the line has a separate name, but job titles often reflect the experience and the skills of the cook. This can be a bit confusing. For example, in larger establishments the positions of first cook, second cook, and third cook are common, but the skills and qualifications of people with these job titles can vary from restaurant to restaurant, and in some cases may be linked to salary structures within the collective agreement of a union. As well, many people call themselves a chef when they are in reality a cook in a restaurant or someone who has taken culinary training.

The traditional hierarchy of the kitchen is a system called the brigade, created in France in the 19th century by Auguste Escoffier. Although most modern restaurants do not follow the traditional brigade system to the letter, many of the positions in restaurants are still referred to using the French terminology.

Traditional Title

Modern Alternatives


Chef, Chef de Cuisine

Kitchen manager

In charge of the whole kitchen

Sous-Chef, Executive Sous Chef


Second in command of the kitchen; supervises when the chef is absent

Chef de Partie

Section cook

In charge of a section or station


Vegetable station

Preparation of vegetables, starches, and accompaniments


Sauce or sauté station

Preparation of sauces, hot appetizers, and finishing most entrées

Garde Manger

Salad station, cold kitchen

Preparation of cold kitchen items such as salads and cold appetizers


Swing cook

Rotates between stations in the kitchen


Pastry cook/Pastry chef

Preparation of desserts


Fish station

Preparation of fish and seafood


Grill cook

Preparation of grilled or broiled items


Cook, Line cook

Preparation of a wide variety of foods


Junior cook

Preparation of a wide variety of foods

Front of House

A similar structure exists in the front of the house, with restaurant and dining room managers having their own teams of servers, hosts/hostesses, bussers, and bartenders to serve guests. The traditional brigade hierarchy also covered the front of house positions, and is still commonly used in France to this day, but only two have remained in common usage in Canada, namely maître d’hôtel (or maître d’ for short) and sommelier.

Typical front of house positions and responsibilities include:




Maître d’/Maître d’Hotel

Dining room or restaurant manager

In charge of the front of the house


Wine steward

Responsible for maintaining wine lists and the ordering and service of wine



Takes orders, leads service


Sets and clears tables


Seats guests and often processes payment


Prepares drinks and beverages


Food runner

Brings food to the table from the kitchen

Info gathered from Working in the Food Service Industry.  (Under Creative Commons License)

Contact Us for More Information

Subscribe for latest updates