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above left, top to bottom: Supermarkets offer an array of different departments to work in, such as cooking classes with teenagers and adults.
above right: Publix’s aprons Cooking School program serves nine different markets, helping customers improve their cooking skills and provide home-cooked meals.
There are many different areas in the supermarket culinary
structure within which to work, ranging from manufacturing
to corporate to retail. Most supermarket companies have a
brigade system similar to that of a professional kitchen. There
may be slight differences in positions based on size and range of
departments, but there are executive chefs, chefs de cuisine, sous
chefs, pastry chefs, sauciers, garde mangers, butchers, fry chefs,
grill chefs and others.
Chuck Berardi, regional executive chef in Downingtown, Pa.,
for Wegmans Food Markets, says Wegmans’ kitchens follow a
typical hotel chain of command, with an executive chef, sous chefs
and cooks. At the corporate level, Wegmans has chefs who work
on innovation, menu development, recipe testing and production.
Recently, Tim Donnelly, corporate chef, Publix corporate
offices, Lakeland, Fla., was in the middle of opening Publix’s
newest cooking school, Aprons, prepping and cooking pork
dumplings for customers to sample. He also works closely with
a recipe development staff on deli items, rotisserie and salads, as
well as piloting a catering area.
“I’m allowed to help people expand their culinary repertoire
with Publix’s Aprons Cooking School and Simple Meals
programs by teaching them techniques and using ingredients
that are new to them,” Donnelly says. “With our deli and other
fresh departments, I’m able to participate in introducing new and
exciting finished products for our customers to take home.”
Working in the supermarket arena can be rewarding, with
several perks. Whereas a restaurant chef might work 10-12
hours a day, six days a week, for moderate pay and, possibly, no
benefits, H-E-B’s Kelly works 40 hours a week, receives up to
five weeks of paid vacation, a salary in the mid-50s, quarterly
bonuses, full medical benefits, a retirement savings account
and many holidays off. “I get to live a pretty normal family
life,” she says.
Supermarkets offer an array of different departments in
which to work and areas in which to cook. “Once a chef, always
a chef,” says Berardi. “I suit up and put an apron on every day.”
Publix’s in-store service, “Aprons Simple Meals,” helps
customers provide home-cooked meals for their families. The
recipes are quick and easy with minimal cleanup. There is also a
recipe program in the meat/seafood and produce departments to
help customers prepare unfamiliar ingredients. Publix’s Aprons
Cooking School helps customers improve their cooking skills with
classes such as Basic Knife Skills and Pasta, Risotto and Gnocchi.