Growing up, I was always sous chef. One of my parents would direct me to clean or chop or get ingredients ready while they did the planning work.
When I first married DH and got him started on his cooking journey, I would have the same set-up– I would be the directing chef and would make him sous chef. Except his chopping was so slow sometimes I would give up and do the chopping. We would try to switch roles, but he was terrible at delegating… he would just do everything himself. During his cooking class, he learned the concept of directing/planning, etc. but he just could not do it in practice. So I’d stand around the kitchen waiting to be told what to do and that would never come. I’d have to either be the managing chef or I’d have to actively take over whatever sous chef task he was doing.
These days we’ve settled into a pattern that isn’t sous chef/managing chef at all. Basically, we both look at the recipe. I get out the ingredients while he reads through the recipe itself for any surprises (like hour rest/refrigeration times). Then we both check the recipe and see what needs to be done next and pick and choose what to wash or chop sort of in order, but sometimes I know I skip things I’m not crazy about to let him do it, unless he delays them too long and I end up chopping that onion myself. There are some jobs that he always does– he’s 100% in charge of any deep fat frying, for example. I ALWAYS burn myself with splattering grease when I try, and he’s got a protective coating of fur. Similarly, anything requiring the top oven goes to him because I am too short to use it without burning my arm. But generally we both chop, we both stir, we both mix. Sometimes we pour things out of heavy pots together with one holding the pot and the other getting stuff out. This method is pretty similar to the inefficient but equitable way we handle most things in our household– we’re both responsible so if something gets forgotten or messed up we’re both at fault. It works for us.
Though, when I cook with my kids, I am the managing chef and they are sous chefs (already DC1 is a fast and uneven chopper!). For DC1’s one meal a week, zie does everything on hir own following the recipe with some assists from parents as necessary.
Do you cook with someone else? How do you separate out the responsibilities?