When you ask a young aspiring chef about they type of restaurant they dream of, many will tell of aspirations to build a French restaurant kitchen around the fundamentals they learned at culinary school. When you ask a seasoned chef about their thoughts on creating a classic French restaurant kitchen layout, most will tell you that it is a ridiculously expensive endeavor and should be reserved for only the finest of five-star restaurants.
While it is true that a classic French restaurant kitchen concept would be expensive to implement, and most are relegated a hotel kitchen design, we can take those classic operational strategies and apply them in a more cost-effective way. Regardless of your restaurant kitchen concept and development budget, understanding the fundamental concepts of the classic Brigade System will help you to prioritize your design approach to fit your individual needs.
French Restaurant Kitchen Concepts
Here we have outlined the classic brigade system as it pertains to work stations in order to offer you a better vision how your own commercial kitchen design may materialize. Station Chefs (chefs de partie) are considered the line cooks who work at the following stations:
The sauté station is responsible for all sautéed dishes and their accompanying sauces. In smaller kitchens, they may also be responsible for preparing the sauces for other stations as well. This is typically the most challenging but coveted station on the line due to the substantial skill required level to operate it properly.
This fish station is typically adjacent to, or sometimes combined with the sauté station; is responsible for all seafood dishes as well as fabrication and sauces.
The roast station is responsible for all roasted menu items, their associated jus, and or other accompanying sauces.
The grill station is responsible for all grilled items and depending on the scope of the menu may combined with the roast station.
The fry station is responsible for all fired menu items and depending on the size of the menu, may be combined with the roast station in a smaller French restaurant kitchen concept.
The vegetable station is responsible for hot appetizers, soups, vegetables, starches and pastas and may also be responsible for any egg dishes on the menu. In a full-sized brigade system, this station is broken down even further where soups are prepared by the potager (soup station), and the vegetable garnishes are prepared by the legumier.
The pantry station is responsible for all cold food preparations including salads, cold appetizers, terrines, etc. This is considered a specialized category of culinary expertise.
The butcher is responsible for the fabrication of all meats, poultry and possibly fish and breaded items, depending on the size of the brigade.
The pastry station is responsible for all baked good, pastries and desserts. Depending on the size and scale of the foodservice operation, the pastry station may be in fact a completely separate kitchen with its own brigade system including a confiseur who prepares candies and petits fours, a boulanger who is responsible for unsweetened dough items such as rolls and bread, a glacier who produces frozen and cold deserts, and finally a decorateur who is responsible for decorating cakes and other display type items.
As you can see, building a fully functional brigade style French kitchen can be a costly endeavor, but the concept behind its organizational structure is sound and efficient in operations. Just as a chef may take bits and pieces of a technique from another chef to create his or her own style, everyone would do well to follow the organization concept of the brigade system, even if they cannot incorporate it completely into their French restaurant kitchen design.