chef tournant

Table of Contents

In the lively hum of any culinary establishment, from an elegant hotel to a bustling city restaurant, numerous dedicated professionals work in harmony to create a delightful dining experience. Among these professionals, a unique role, often underestimated, yet essential, is that of the Chef Tournant. This position typically serves as the linchpin in the kitchen brigade, maintaining the smooth operation of every station. In this article, we provide an overview of the Chef Tournant’s responsibilities, salary, and job description. Gaining insight into this role can be incredibly helpful for aspiring chefs and those interested in the inner workings of the hospitality industry. Let’s dive deeper into the intriguing world of the Chef Tournant.

What is a Chef Tournant?

A Chef Tournant, also known as a “floating” or “relief” chef, is an integral member of any professional kitchen team. Their primary role revolves around versatility, flexibility, and mastery of various culinary skills.

A Chef Tournant is a member of the kitchen staff who can step into virtually any culinary role as needed. This broad-reaching responsibility involves mastering a wide range of culinary duties. From head chef to sous chef duties, the Chef Tournant ensures that no task in the kitchen comes to a halt.

Chef Tournants must be able to work with a variety of culinary styles and techniques. Their role includes tasks such as creating elegant appetizers, concocting savory main courses, or even perfecting delicate pastries. As such, they need to have a complete understanding of all the food being produced in the kitchen.

While cooking is a crucial part of the job, Chef Tournants may also have responsibilities beyond the culinary. These could include tasks like inventory management and ensuring clear communication among the kitchen staff. By overseeing these duties, the Chef Tournant plays an essential role in maintaining the kitchen’s smooth operation.

What does a chef tournant do? 

A Chef Tournant’s responsibilities are as diverse as the dishes they can create. Their role goes beyond mere cooking, extending to training, managing, and maintaining the high standards of the kitchen environment.

Training and Managing

One of the primary duties of a Chef Tournant is to train and manage junior members of the kitchen staff. They are often required to lead by example, setting the standard for work ethic and quality. The Chef Tournant ensures that each member of the team is well-versed in the necessary techniques and safety procedures to function effectively in a high-pressure culinary environment.

Quality Control and Communication

Another crucial role of a Chef Tournant involves maintaining food quality. They are responsible for tasting and checking dishes before they reach the customer, ensuring that each plate meets the establishment’s high culinary standards.

Simultaneously, they must communicate effectively with both kitchen staff and the restaurant’s management. This communication ensures that everyone is aligned, understands the menu, and can adapt to any changes.

Menu Development

Lastly, a Chef Tournant can also be involved in menu development. They bring their broad culinary knowledge to the table, assisting in the creation of dishes that will wow patrons and enhance the restaurant’s reputation.

What Skills Does a Chef Tournant Have? 

This role requires a unique skill set that ranges from culinary arts to leadership abilities. These individuals gain experience and skills through on-the-job training and advancement.

Mastery of Culinary Arts

A Chef Tournant must possess an extensive understanding of the culinary arts. They must be familiar with various cooking techniques, ingredients, and food preparation methods. This broad knowledge allows them to adapt and thrive in any kitchen section, from grilling to pastry-making. Understanding different types of restaurants also adds to their versatility.

Leadership Skills

Effective leadership is another crucial skill for a Chef Tournant. They are often called upon to lead shifts, guide junior staff, and ensure that the entire kitchen functions smoothly. Good leadership involves not just managing, but also inspiring the team to deliver their best work.

Experience and Adaptability

With the role’s demanding nature, a Chef Tournant needs the ability to learn and advance on-the-job. As they move from one kitchen station to another, they must quickly grasp new techniques and responsibilities. This adaptability also includes handling unexpected situations, from a sudden rush of customers to an ingredient shortage.

Sanitation and Organization

Lastly, a Chef Tournant must understand and uphold high sanitation standards. They should maintain a clean and safe kitchen environment, ensuring that food preparation areas are always up to par with health regulations.

Chef Tournant Job Description 

Here is a detailed look into what an employer might include in the job description for this crucial culinary position.


  1. Manage kitchen stations: The Chef Tournant must be able to manage any kitchen station assigned to them, maintaining the high standards of food production and preparation.

  2. Train junior staff: It’s often their duty to develop the skills of junior staff members, enhancing the overall productivity of the kitchen.

  3. Prepare and cook dishes: From creating recipes to cooking, their responsibility encompasses the entire culinary process.

Skills & Qualifications

  1. Education: A culinary degree or a four-year degree in a related field is usually preferred. However, a high school diploma coupled with significant on-the-job experience can sometimes suffice.

  2. Experience: Previous kitchen experience, especially in various kitchen stations, is often a requirement. This experience allows the Chef Tournant to adapt quickly to different roles.

  3. Leadership skills: As they often act as a manager and mentor to junior staff, strong leadership skills are vital.

The Average Salary of a Chef Tournant

The salary of a Chef Tournant can vary depending on several factors. These include the geographic location, the type and size of the restaurant, and the range of services provided. For instance, a Chef Tournant working in upscale restaurants or in metropolitan areas where the cost of living is significantly higher could expect a larger compensation. Similarly, certain types of restaurants or services may pay more than others.

According to data from talent.com, as of 2023, the average annual salary for a Chef Tournant in the United States is approximately $47,011. However, it’s important to remember that the actual compensation can be significantly higher or lower based on the factors mentioned above.

Kitchen Positions and Hierarchy

Let’s explore the different types of chefs in the culinary world, from the top-level Executive Chef to the essential Kitchen Porter.

Executive Chef

At the pinnacle of the kitchen hierarchy is the Executive Chef, also known as the Chef de Cuisine in some establishments. This role involves overseeing all kitchen operations, from menu creation to staff management. The Executive Chef holds the highest authority and responsibility in the kitchen.

Chef de Cuisine (Head Chef)

Sometimes separate from the Executive Chef, the Chef de Cuisine is typically the kitchen’s operational leader. They direct the culinary team, make executive decisions about the menu, and ensure quality control.

Sous Chef

The Sous Chef is the second-in-command. This role involves managing the kitchen staff, organizing work schedules, and supervising food preparation. The Sous Chef steps up when the head chef is unavailable, ensuring seamless operations.

Chef de Partie

The Chef de Partie or Line Cook is in charge of a specific area or station in the kitchen. These professionals specialize in a certain aspect of food preparation, whether it’s grilling, sautéing (Saucier Chef), or working with pastries. Each Chef de Partie has a unique role to play in the culinary process.

Commis Chef

The Commis Chef is an entry-level position, often filled by recent culinary school graduates. They assist the Chef de Partie, learning the ropes, and honing their skills.

Prep Cooks

Prep Cooks assist across various kitchen sections. They often have less experience but their role provides a crucial foundation, increasing their chances of moving up the hierarchy with years of experience and expertise.

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The role of a Chef Tournant is a dynamic and versatile one, playing a critical part in the smooth functioning of a professional kitchen. These culinary professionals embody the true spirit of the culinary arts, mastering a variety of roles and ensuring consistency in food quality. With their diverse skills and adaptability, they serve as a bridge among various kitchen stations, providing relief and leadership where needed. Whether you’re embarking on a culinary career or simply appreciating the artistry of your meal, knowing the role and importance of a Chef Tournant brings a deeper understanding of the intricate world behind the kitchen doors.

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