What is your definition of a "professional Chef?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by gilest, May 12, 2011.

  1. gilest

    gilest

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    What's your definition of a "professional Chef?

    I was under the impression that this forum was specifically for "professional Chefs" , It wouldn't appear that that's the case in most threads. I was hoping to network with other chefs and get thier professional opinions on certian subjects.
     
  2. chefedb

    chefedb

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    What is your definition?
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    O.K., look...

    It's not a "definition" of what a Chef is, becasue this is N.America and everyone and thier dog has their own interpretation.

    And it's usually that a "chef" is anyone with a poofy white hat who has more than 50 hrs of food network TV under their belts, or when a cook has a "starwars" moment, and someone says "Luke, you are my son  , a chef  now".

    Reality sucks, and reality is how chefs and cooks are defined.

    Consider this:

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

    Period.  If they suck, out the door they fly

    A Chef is judged on if s/he can run a profitable kitchen.

    If they can't, out the door they fly.

    Very simple, isn't it?

    In other words, a Chef is a manager, which is what the word means in French anyway.

    Questions?, Comments? Yeah-butts? 

    Run it through my reality model.  Even a sh*tty politician is still a politician, just a sh*ty one, and only then until he gets booted out of office.

    And as to the "professional" business?

    Easy-peasy

    A professional is one who earns their sole   income by working in their profession.  In other words, no day jobs, no side jobs
     
  4. kvonnj

    kvonnj

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    The word has a lot of connotations, and in North America, it's used in many ways. For me it would mean the person who's in charge of the food preparation and the kitchen staff. That doesn't necessarily mean that person is the EXECUTIVE Chef, or any of the other million and six titles one might see out there. (Chef Manager, Chef Supervisor, etc...)

       So I like to keep it simple. It's more than being a cook. The Chef is  the one in charge.
     
  5. fishinchef

    fishinchef

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
  6. leeniek

    leeniek

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    I agree with foodpump!
     
  7. resqdoc

    resqdoc

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    By nature, if you are in the food service industry, we are all cooks when it all comes down to it.

    Chef is a title.Whether it has a prefix, or a suffix..its still a title.

    Professional denotes getting paid to do it.

    It would be interesting to know how many folks in these very forums think of themselves as "chefs".

    As far as far as it being a "SOLE" means of income as a requirement, I would beg to differ.

    I know MANY smaller operations that only offer dinner service, where the ONLY person that gets the benefit of regular full time income is the Executive Chef/Chef Proprietor. If you do have a family and are the main bread winner, you have no choice but to get a part time gig elsewhere. That gig may or may not have anything to do with food at all.

    It is ridiculous to think that someone could be a part time sous chef, but I have seen it before, and it works quite well given the right crew.

    Every great chef has a great crew.

    In that hierarchy, there is that one cook that stands out from the rest. If that person functions as the executive chef when he is not there, then technically, that person would be considered his "Sous Chef". Its a bit of a faux pas to title yourself though, isnt it? If its offered, its offered, if not, thats alright too.

    Alot of the time, there is the expectation of some sort of increased pay that comes along with being "official". Some Exe. Chefs just arent willing to do that though, so they simply dont feel as though the need is there to title someone.

    It is what it is.

    Alright, sorry for the segue.

    Someone that EARNS the title of "Chef", in any capacity, in my eyes should have a fairly well rounded knowledge of various types of cuisine, a certain level of maturity, an enormous amount of finesse, and unmatched skill.

    There are literally thousands of amazing cooks working lines all over the world. Being a good cook does not make you a chef though. I guess its best summed up by this:

    Someone that has the title of chef should not only be the best cook in the kitchen in all facets but should also be the one thats not afraid to take charge and has the foresight to know WHEN to take charge when the situation dictates. They should be the one, even if they are the only one, keep their cool when shi* hits the fan. Along with having that title, comes the responsibility to make sure everything goes right, even when it seems like its an impossibility and the duty to the ones that pay your bills - the customers, to offer them something that they cannot get elsewhere, whether that is through playing it safe with menu development and having dishes that are fool proof and a 100% hit, or by being innovative and offering the patrons something new and amazing that they can only get by coming to eat YOUR food. If you choose to go the second route, then its up to you as the chef to ensure everyone is on the same page as far as preparation techniques, and on you to scrutinize each and every dish before it makes its way to the floor. The buck stops with you.You are paid more than a cook for that exact reason. On top of everything else thats involved with food preparation, you also do the ordering, work orders, repairs, etc. You are the one who is responsible and paid for taking initiative.

    Take away the added responsibility that comes along with the title, and in my eyes, you are not a chef. You are a cook.

    There is nothing wrong with that, at all..but I wish so many people would not have this glamorization of the title and think that everything that is involved with being at the top of the food chain is sexy and wonderful.

    As a side note, it always makes me chuckle a little when I hear someone describe themselves as a "professional chef" and then finding out that they are "between jobs".
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    As has been explained prior a Chef is really the manager of the kitchen. It seems like people need to have a name attached to make them feel in charge. That name is "Chef."

    I do not consider myself a Chef at all. I cook..... that's what I do each and every day. If I had a brigade to manage in a restaurant or other venue, I would have to use the moniker "Chef" for other people but not myself.
     
  9. chefedb

    chefedb

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    From the classic French kitchens. Chef is Chief. Now the question why is that man chief or boss or head honcho. There are many reasons. It could be overall knowlege, seniority, expertise, cooking ability, business accumen, ability to communicate., the best cook.

           As you see there are many. So overall the person who possesses the majority of these qualities deserves the title CHEF.
     
  10. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Resqdoc,

    Everyone else can state their definition in 10 words or less.

    Good idea.

    If its simple enough, maybe the media will actually catch on and stop telling people that if they wear a poofy white hat, then that makes them a "chef".

    Maybe the culinary schools will stop telling their 6 mth or 1 yr graduates--with no previous industry--that they are not "chefs", but instead, "culinary school graduates.

    Maybe.... 
     
    resqdoc likes this.
  11. chefedb

    chefedb

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    If the Culinary Schools  could not call them Chefs or Cooks then  they could not justify their outrages tuition fees. 
     
  12. prairiechef

    prairiechef

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    I am a journeyman cook.

    In my current position, I am both the Chef and F&B Director.

    If I leave this position, I will still be a journeyman cook.

    If I go to another location and assume management of their food service, I will be whatever they choose to call me at that location... Boss, K.M., Jefe, Big Cheese.

    If I work somewhere that uses a classic brigade setup, I will be titled as to my position... DC, CDP, SC, ESC, EC... whatever.

    The term "professional" rankles me more than the term "Chef"... flipping burgers at Sherlock Holmes as your full time gig does not make you a professional cook. Nor does heating Jimmy Dean premade sausage patties to serve with your boil-in-bag eggs and powdered hollandaise. I do believe the training matters... three years as an apprentice working towards your trade certification IS different than 10 years of working the line at Smittys. Have you dedicated yourself to this career wholly? Do you consider yourself a career cook? Do you see yourself doing this in 5 years? 10 years?

    and let's not paint every institution with the same brush... it was HAMMERED into us when I was in school... "you are not Chefs, there is only one chef in the kitchen. You are only cooks if you work in the industry as a cook." and my tuition was far from outrageous, but then again, I didn't attend any of the "hip and trendy ridin' the coatails of the food network" schools, either.

    And just in case anyone wants to get high and mighty about school vs. on the job training, I cooked for 10 years before attending school, and worked 50 hours a week as a cook while attending school fulltime. ;)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2011
  13. resqdoc

    resqdoc

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    Yeah...I am a bit long winded, especially about things I am passionate about.

    Better? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  14. panini

    panini

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    Professional.

    a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs <a professional golfer> b : having a particular profession as a permanent career <a professional soldier>  
     
  15. iceman

    iceman

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    LOL. Another thread that just cracks me up. Here's my advice to you gilest, call yourself anything at all that makes you happy. Don't worry so much about what other people say if it's gonna make you feel bad. I'm a professional chef. I don't however, ever wear "a poofy white hat", LOL. As it was I got in trouble while I was at culinary school for not wearing one. Call yourself anything you want, but make sure if you're speaking loudly, you better be able to show your skills when called on. I suggest that you make sure your skills are sharp. 
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2011
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I had the pleasure of teaching Culinary Arts in 5 NYC cooking schools  2 private  3 public. The public were inexpensive and I taught the same things that the Pricey Private ones taught.  In the public ones you were a student, in the private a chef or cook. Like I say they had to somewhat justify the big bucks.
     
  17. momandchef

    momandchef

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    Foodpump hit the nail on the head.

    I do have side jobs tho...

    teaching cooking classes /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    One big fault of food network And I am talking the Pro chefs only not the others is that they show you where they are and the heights they have achieved  in todays industry, but they don't tell you what they went through to get there. Like Battali, Emiril, Samuelson, Puck, Pepin etc. Many of the others who ""Auditioned"" are not actual chefs and I refer to them as TV Hype Personalities. Like Lee, The indian girl, Big Daddy, Neely's etc.

    The other thing I think crazy  is to give a  cooking test, and to hire based on that. There are certainly many other traits one must posses to run an operation.
     
  19. steelbanger

    steelbanger

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    Titles are like money. If you throw them around like they're going out of style, then they lose their value - inflation, I suppose, even in titles - here in North America everyone calls him or herslef a chef, so of course the REAL chef in the kitchen now has to be called the EXECUTIVE chef. That's just as wrong for a single kitchen chef as it is to call every cook a chef. So, to set the REAL Executive chef apart from the faux executive chef, we invented the SENIOR executive chef. What's next? Mucho-senior, senior chief executive chef??

    Here is how I remember it, from WAAY back: in French the word chef means boss, chief, man-in-charge (sorry, person-in-charge), and yes, there are many chefs, not just in kitchens: chef de parti (both political as well as in a kitchen) chef de rang (head waiter), chef de reception (reception manager), chef de mission (head of a delegation), and finally, chef de cuisine (I'm sure there are more...). That's what we should call our kitchen bosses, chef de cuisine. An executive chef is typically in charge of more than one kitchen, and more than one chef works under him - or her. A hotel, with restaurants, catering / banquet facilities and perhaps a coffee shop would employ an executive chef, who in turn would have chefs for each of the operations. The difference between a chef and an executive chef is that the former would be more hands-on, in the kitchen, supervising his chefs de parti, cooks and staff, while the exec chef would be more of an administrator, planner, and evaluator. The exec chef does budgets, interprets earnings statements, prepares labor and revenue forecasts, sets the purchasing standards, and works with the establishment's management on how the business is to perform. His chefs do the ordering, the cooking, and the execution of the menus and recipes. They manage the inventory, the staff (attendance, performance, cost), the cooking., portioning and service of the food. They're like a production manager in any other type of manufacturing business. The lines blurr, of course as each business and organization has their own expectation of what each manager is supposed to do, and many executive chefs have different opinions as to how involved they should - or indeed want to be in the day-to-day running of the kitchen (I for one still like to get my hands dirty!).

    Can a professional chef work more than one job? Of course. Many have to. We are still one of the worst-paid groups of professionals out there. Compare your salary, your level of expertise, and the amount of hours you work to a "senior" level electrician, or welder, or a CMA, lawyer or stock broker... I dare say most of us would come up short.
     
  20. jazzcook

    jazzcook

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    In addition to the question of what defines a "professional chef", there is also the question (by the OP) of who should be posting in this forum...

    I am a full-time cook, and have always considered it appropriate to post here.  But if it is truly only for actual "chefs" then I guess I shouldn't...?