When you go to your favorite restaurant, a lot is happening behind the scenes. Individuals in the kitchen work together in harmony to create the night’s meals. A soup chef, or potager, whips up those delightful and tempting soups you see on the menu. While larger restaurants leave the potager to work only on soups, smaller restaurants may also require her to fill the role of prep cook.
If a kitchen does not have a prep cook, the soup chef takes on the role. This means washing, peeling, chopping and preparing all the vegetables and components needed for the soup or stock being made for the day.
Behind every great dish and perfect soup is a stock. Stocks are made from animal bones, vegetables, water and a variety of spices. The potager prepares the beef, chicken and fish stocks for soups, sauces and dishes.
The potager may create one or multiple soups, which are typically created beforehand and kept heated for service. In some kitchens, the potager creates the day’s soups a day ahead of time since every good soup chef knows that some soups taste better the following day.
While the saucier (or sauce maker) creates the sauces on your dinner plate, the soup chef handles the mother sauces, which are the five bases that comprise every sauce. They include the béchamel, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise, and vinaigrette. Béchamel, for example, is the infamous cream sauce that can be transformed into a creamy alfredo concoction, or the espagnole, which can be transformed into that sultry, smooth demi-glace that blankets your chicken cutlet. While not all of these correspond with soups, mother sauces are still handled by the potager since they utilize similar techniques and materials as stocks and soups.
Shailynn Krow began writing professionally in 2002. She has contributed articles on food, weddings, travel, human resources/management and parenting to numerous online and offline publications. Krow holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and an Associate of Science in pastry arts from the International Culinary Institute of America.