For this latest portrait La Cigale Team Spirit, we’ve decided to share with you the job of the Sous-Chef de Cuisine.
This post is held today by Angélique Schnepp, a very energetic young woman, with a passionate spirit. She is, so to speak, “the right hand woman” of our chef. It is an exacting job, requiring a good deal of rigour, as well as having to know the various professions of the kitchen brigade.
While you have to be technically very good, you also have to be capable of managing people and continually coming up with proposals and creative solutions for the the Chef.
Angélique, why did you choose to venture into cooking?
In my family, we do very little cooking. Unlike so many others, I can’t say that it was a talent or a desire that was passed on to me. Nevertheless, at the age of six, I already knew that cooking would be a part of me, for the rest of my life. I had been given a little pastry cookbook which fascinated me. I so loved all the utensils! It was the beginnings of a passion …
When I was twelve, I decided that when I grew up I would have my own restaurant.
At sixteen I started my CAP cooking diploma course, then I went on to get my professional “Brevet”. Along the way, I had the good fortune to meet up with the chef of the Monarque in Chartres, who became a sort of Mentor for me. He gave me the opportunity to launch my career.
I began winter seasons in Courchevel, then the summer in Saint Tropez. I went off to the Caribbean, to Saint Barthélémy, to discover other cultures and new flavours.
Upon my return, I started at the Vista Palace Hôtel as chef de partie. That’s where I met Lucie Pichon.
What qualities do you think are essential for a Second de Cuisine?
The second de cuisine, or sous-chef is the chef’s assistant.
The main quality is to be a leader of men and women. You have to be diplomatic, knowing how to pass on messages to the chef or to the brigade, really relaying information between everyone.
It’s a real hands-on job. It’s all about being connected.
What do you consider to be your strengths in assisting our Chef, Lucie Pichon?
I think I have very good technical skills and I’m very thorough.
I have also discovered that I love transmitting my know-how to the teams.
I’m generally a very happy person but also straightforward and down-to-earth.
Angélique, could you tell us about a typical day when you are seconding the chef?
Well, I have a lot of work to do following up the orders. I take delivery of all the provisions and check them on arrival. I make sure that hygiene rules and the forward flow process are strictly respected.
I call up and keep in touch with all our suppliers.
Then starts the work of preparation. I take charge of the hot dish of the day and the starter.
When service begins, I’m there to call the orders to my chefs de partie and to help them in their work. I guide them and check that the service is running smoothly.
Afterwards, I make sure that the cleaning up has been done properly, checking that everything is spotless. Then I put in my orders for the following day.
Finally, I call the chef to debrief on the day and exchange on instructions.
There are more and more women in the catering business but how do you stand when you are a woman? Is it difficult?
To be honest, I’ve never had any problems in the kitchen.
That’s maybe got something to do with the fact that I’m the little sister of four older brothers!
But really, I’ve always been respected by my colleagues.
I have a joyful, happy temperament but I’m not always gentle and mild.
Once I set foot in the kitchen, I get going. I think the key to getting the message over is my humour.
I so love my job that … I really can’t find any drawbacks or disadvantages to it.
I live for cooking!
What do you like about your job?
I like it when I’m trusted, when people count on me to do things.
It’s important to have responsibilities. I love teaching new techniques to members of my team.
How do you get on with the chef?
We’ve known each other for over five years now. We’ve learnt to get on and go forward together. We have the same outlook on cooking, the same way of seeing things. I see us as a formidable duo! Nonetheless we are completely different in everyday life.
What do you think of La Cigale Vista Beach?
I’m very attached to this establishment. It’s a great pleasure to work here. There’s a good feeling amongst the team, a great atmosphere. It’s a place where you can express yourself.
There’s a great mindset here: the human dimension is set at the heart of the business, be it for the clients or for the teams. You really have the feeling that you exist and that you have a role to play: you’re not just a link in a chain.
Thank you Angélique! Now do you have a little anecdote to tell us about La Cigale Vista Beach?
Well, one day, at the end of the afternoon, in late August 2016, I was in the kitchen, doing my prep for the evening when I heard the chef yelling somewhere: I really had a fright!
I jumped up and hurried to look for her, thinking that something terrible had happened.
When I found her, she was in the pantry, jumping for joy …
She’d just found out that she’d been rated two Toques by Gault et Millau!