Chef v. Cook

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by livefrombudokai, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. livefrombudokai

    livefrombudokai

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    Does anyone else get annoyed by the overuse of the term "Chef" it seems to me like everyone who cooks a meal is considered a Chef today. I've been cooking since I was 14 am in culinary school and work full time in a well respected restaurant in my city and I still get a little upset when people call me a "Chef". I feel like it's completely disrespectful to not only my craft but to those who have come before me and put in the work, the years and their lives to what we do. Sorry for the rant I just feel like people outside of the industry don't get it, just a pet peeve I guess.
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    Chef by definition in a French kitchen is Chief. He is in charge of most everything in the kitchen. In some places does not even cook.  A cook  does exactly that  cooks he answers to the  Ex. Chef.  It also depends how large and how kitchen is structured.   could be cook to station chef to  sous chef  to  ex. sous chef to chef d cuisine to ex. chef. The buck ends at the top.
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    This topic has been done to death--at least twice a year in one form or another.

    Listen, this is N. America, we have no standards that constitute what a cook should know or be capable of.  We have a zillion culinary schools with a zillion different curriculums, some graduate "chefs", some graduate "culinary school gaduates".

    Therfore, like a "professional photographer", anyone can take the title of "Chef" because there are no standards to adhere to.

    Tell people this:
     

    A cook is jusged by what they put on a plate.

    A Chef is judged by how they run a kitchen 

    And th-thhh-that's it folks.
     
  4. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    For me, understanding the restaurant brigade titles is clearer when compared to military ranks, The following table illustrates my view using the U.S. Army/Navy ranks.

    General / Admiral
    Executive Chef, in charge of multiple restaurants15-20 years
    Colonel / CaptainChef, in charge of a restaurant or two10-20 years
    Lt. Colonel / CommanderSous Chef, Second in charge of a restaurant7-20 years
    Captain / LieutenantStation Chef(s), i.e. Sauté, Grill, Fry, Roast, Fish , Pastry, Cold-Food3-10 years
    Sergeant(s) / Chief Petty OfficersCook(s), Head Cook(s)2-5 years
    Corporal / Petty OfficersPrep Cook(s), possible entry level for trained/apprenticed culinarians0-5 years
    Private / SeamanDishwasher, Trainee/Apprentice, Helper, Entry level for untrained0-2 years

    Private/Seaman is the most common entry level though culinary school graduates may enter as prep cook. The more training, whether culinary school or OJT/apprenticeship, will increase the potential speed of advancement, however, with few exceptions, training will not affect entry level(s).

    Advancing beyond Head Cook (bold face) requires knowledge, formal or OJT, of accounting, business law, personnel management, business finance and a talent for management rather than production. Though by no means essential, an AA or BA/BS in culinary or hospitality will certainly enhance opportunities to move into management.

    This is strictly my view and is based on my experience.
     
  5. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Pete, you're giving me flashbacks.

    BDL
     
  6. nadeest

    nadeest

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    I make a point of telling people, that call me a chef, that I am merely a student, and in training.  I am no wheres near to being a chef yet, at least by my standards.  I have one heck of a lot yet to learn, before I even get close to that title.  By Pete's example, I will be, at best, a corporal, when I get back to work in a restaurant.  However, given my long layoff, it is more likely that I will be a Pfc/ Lance Corporal for a while, until I gain some experience.  After all, I've worked in a restaurant or two, but never in a fine dining establishment. There is a large difference, in skill levels, to my mind.
     
  7. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Well,

    I was about to hit my 13 year mark as private .

    Forget all the catering gigs (100's) , weddings (43), showers (62) , parties (uncountable) private parties (uncountable), etc......the two years at St Denis + the courses I gave let alone the ones I  took...........and thats aside from what I do on a daily basis with two servers at any given time.........+ prep for next shift and weekend.

    Pete, I am still a dishwasher................I am going home to have a drink..........a strong one.

    Nicko, change my name.

    Petals.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
  8. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Pete,

    Don't worry....lol ........it does not matter where I am on the grid (right word ?) I love what I do and thats all that counts. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif  xoxo
     
  9. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Yo, PetalsandCoco,

    Nothing in the above chart says one cannot do what the ones below do, it simply lays out responsibilities.

    A private chef runs the client's kitchen, and probably does most of the tasks required.

    A personal chef runs the kitchen for several clients, and probably does most of the tasks required.

    In my mind, anyone who runs a kitchen is a chef, regardless as to what they actually do.

    BTA,WTHDIK
     
  10. petalsandcoco

    petalsandcoco

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    Pete,

    Forgive me, I did not mean to stir the pot. Did you read my post just above you ? FWIW I enjoyed your post....

    Nous sommes tourjours des meilleurs amis ?

    Petals.
     
  11. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Petals,

    Mais naturellement !

    ¡Indiscutiblemente!
     
  12. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    When enough people you respect call you a chef, I guess you are one.

    BDL
     
  13. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Eh...no.

    That's where all the trouble starts.

    There are lousy Chefs that earn no respect.  They are reposnsible for the quality of the food, the consitancy of the quality of food, the training of the cooks, and for running a profitable kitchnen. If they suck,--are terrible at their jobs, they don't last long.  But while they are there they are the Chef, they are responsible for the running of the kitchen.  The cook, cooks.

    Same goes for politicians.  They can be terrible at thier jobs, but while they are in power they still have the title of Govenor or Mayor.

    A kitchen that runs on respect is a nice kitchen to work in, but you don't neccesarily need to respect the Chef.  Of course this usually means that one of you willl leave shortly, and I have been on both sides of the situation many, many times.

    Part of the problem with this whole Chef/Cook thingee is a lack of understanding.  For some reason "Cook" is a nasty, filthy, dirty, four letter word.  I don't know why this is (well, yes I do but right now I don't want to digress) but it is perpetuated by the media and many of the culinary schools.  If and when the word "cook" is ever used it is never in a positive view.
     
  14. Iceman

    Iceman

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    LOL. As per usual, the terms "cook" and "chef" to me are just vocabulary words. I think you (anybody) should just call yourself whatever makes you happy. Do you not do a better job at things when you're happy? For me, as long as I've got work and I'm getting paid, I don't care if I'm called a "plumber". That's just me I guess. When I'm in a bar-pub and I get to make things from scratch, with my own hands, with my choice of ingredients, I think I'm as much a chef as anyone. I'm producing something with my skills. When I'm in a convention center throwing frozen wings into a deep fryer, then splashing them with sauce from a bottle and plating them for service, I find insulting to even claim to be a cook. 
     
  15. fuge68m

    fuge68m

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    Personally, I get offended when people refer to me as a Chef. That is a title I feel will take years/decades to attain.

    This little quip is an excellent way to counter a 'chef' comment. Awesome =)
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Pump,

    You make an important point and raise important distinctions. 

    However, Ice has the right of it.  We're not talking about jobs, we're talking about language.  Meanings change with use, that's just how it is.  No matter how much we wish that people would use terms like "agenda" (it's a plural), "hopefully" (an adjective), and "whom" (the object form of "who") properly we lose.  The term "chef" means what people mean it to mean.  That includes a lot of people whose noses we don't want in the tent, but there you go. 

    I always considered myself a "cook" and not a "chef," until people whom I respect insisted on calling me Chef.  The operative concept in my near acceptance is the respect I accord them, not the other way around.  If they say "chef," who am I to fight it?  If you want to argue about it, take it up with them.  Me?  I'm going to write a recipe for smothered chicken.

    BDL
     
  17. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Probably.

    I did an apprenticeship, 3 years.  At the end I had a 3 day battery of written tests and then the big one, the practical.  After a few weeks of nervous waiting, I got my "papers" and I was recognized--in all of Switzerland's 3 national languages as a "Cook".  In every place I worked in Europe, only the Chef was refered to as the the Chef.  No one, no body ever took the title for themselves.  Even serious hobby cooks refered to themselves as "Hobby cooks"

    No language issues there.

    N.America is where things change, and as Iceman says, he finds it "insulting to be called a cook". There are no clear cut rules/benchamrks/standards as to what   consititutes a cook, what knowledge and skills they should possess. 

    And if you can't define what a cook is, how can you define what a "Chef" is?  Thing is, every kitchen needs a manager, the one who keeps the food good, the staff trained, and the books in the black.  Whether this person cooks or not, they still are the manager.  The cooks, cook.
     
  18. chefross

    chefross

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    I would also like to interject a few observations from my career.

    I do not understand the need to give each cook in a kitchen a title. I find people are being called Sous Chef who have no clue what it means let alone the qualifications to do the job. I see people with titles like Demi-Chef, Chef Durang, (spelling) These are French titles from another age that don not fit now.

    So many of my experiences had been negatives in my career that it was refreshing to finally get the chance to work some real pro's.

    I have worked for the Drunk Chef and the stupid Chef, and the dishonest Chef, and then there was the Chef who had a temper that he could not control, and then the Chef whose every other word was profane.......so, like I said, I've been there and done that.

    In order to get respect, you have to show some first. And this is not just for the culinary world I might add. It goes for life as well. So many young people fail to realize this too.

    I've know Chefs who have taken monthly inventory from their recliner with beer in hand.

    I personally know Chefs now that have no clue how to cost out a plate or even create menus, yet they are gainfully employed with the title and all that comes with it.

    The idea from some of the other threads would suggest a professional association whose purpose it would be to grant a culinary license to people who pass a series of tests in order to be able to own and run a food business.

    To me this is a slippery slope.

    Would we then not allow grandma to make cookies to sell at the church social because she does not have the proper licensing? 

    Would a "Food Police" be established to seek out and prosecute those who serve and cook food without certification.

    I don't have the answer....only that I wish that our profession was taken more seriously and the fakers and wannabe's  be dealt with.
     
  19. Iceman

    Iceman

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    I took it insulting to be called a "cook" because I wasn't really cooking anything. I was doing a "trained monkey" job. It was insulting to real kitchen food service people that actually produce something, other than just being a living breathing vending machine. I had no concern between cook or chef. 
     
  20. foodpump

    foodpump

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    But Ross, most of this is already happening, and has been happening for a loong time.

    Whatever Grandma does at home is her business, but what she sells to the general public--even if it s for charity and she doesn't get a dime, is, in many cases regulated by the health dept.  Grandma has the power to poison, maim, or kill people, or make a lovely cookie.  This is something that the health dept takes seriously.

    Again, the "food police," in the guise of the health dept. do shut down businesses because they don't have certification ( a mandatory "food safe" course here in B.C.) or violate the health code. Bear in mind that 99% of business shut downs and/or fines  are the result of customer complaints.

    Want the business to be taken seriously?  Get some standards in place.  If I had a dollar for every dip-wad in Vancouver alone who leased a place, put an espresso machine and a pannini grill in, bought his muffins and pre-cooked chicken and pre-chopped romaine  at Costco, and called it a "restaurant" I'd be a wealthy man.  Want the culinary schools to stop screwing with 19 yr olds who think "passion" is a 4o hr/week word?  Get some standards to base their curriculum on.  Want the employers to stop screwing the cooks?  Get some standards to base a pay rate on.  Want to get rid of the fakers and wannabees?  Get some standards in place.  Either you passed the test or you didn't, let's see your documentation.

    Here in western Canadan we ahve already taken steps.  The title "Cook" is now a much harder process, requiring 3 separte schooling blocks interspaced with a prescribed amount of employment in the industry.  The employers are now aware of what Cook 1, Cook 2, and Cook 3 (Red Seal) should know and be capable of executing, and they are paying accordingly.