Why do they use the term "Amateur chef"?

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[h2]chef[/h2]


–noun
1.
the chief cook, esp. in a restaurant or hotel, usually responsible for planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, overseeing food preparation, and supervising the kitchen staff.

2.
any cook.
 
 
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"chef" is French for "chief", and does NOT only apply to the culinary trades.

"Chef" is THE BOSS!

"Sous Chef" is second in command

IMHO, that is...
 
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an amateur chef is an inexperienced/practicing chef or cook

a 'Chef' will be experienced and most probably qualified also.

thus a professional cook is a chef, and an amateur is the opposite = non-professional. 
 

caterchef

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I think you need to pay a visit across the English Channel And check your definition for Chef.
There is no such term as  inexperienced/practicing chef.
I'm not saying all Chefs act professionally but there are no amateur chefs only amateur cooks.
A professional cook is just that no more or no less, mostly because he wants it that way.
I would much rather work with a professional cook than a Chef who thinks he is professional.  
 
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caterchef

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the definition of a Chef = a professional cook.
 
A chef is a person who cooks professionally. In a professional kitchen setting, the term is used only for the one person in charge of everyone else in the kitchen


Chef de cuisine, executive chef and head chef
This person is in charge of all things related to the kitchen which usually includes menu creation; management, scheduling and payroll of entire kitchen staff; ordering; and plating design. Chef de cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef comes, and is more common in European kitchens. Executive chef is more common in England and the United States. Head chef is often used to designate someone with the same duties as an executive chef, but there is usually someone in charge of them, possibly making the larger executive decisions such as direction of menu, final authority in staff management decisions, etc. This is often the case for chefs with several restaurants.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chef
 
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All the formal definitions are fine if your restaurant happens to be organized along the lines of the French brigade system; which is to say, in a military manner. But how many actually are?

Rather than a strict definition one has to go with an extensional one. And I think most would agree that a chef is the man in charge of a professional kitchen which includes other cooks.

When I was short-order cooking I was called a lot of things. But "chef" certainly wasn't one of them. And I'd have been shocked if anybody had done so. Sure, I was in charge---of a staff of one.

The title Chef also connotes a certain level of training and experience. As with any other position, you can't start out at the bottom and be in charge tomorrow. Mostly you earn your chops.

The head man is always addressed as Chef in a professional kitchen. There are several influences behind this. One, certainly, was the military-like structure of the French brigade. A Chef was like a General, and "hey, you," just doesn't show the deserved respect. In culinary schools, an instructor is always addressed as chef (why not? He's the man in charge of the classroom), and a lot of that just stays with you in the real world. The boss is always chef, and that's all there is to it. And, of course, the TV shows have emphasized that, so that now everybody confuses cooks with chefs.

There's a shorthand factor involved as well. It's a lot more efficient to say, "yes chef," than to say, "ok, George, I heard you and will do what you said I should do."

All that aside, there is a certain amount of political correctness involved in these discussions. I know a lot of chefs, great ones and not so great ones, and everyday ones who work to see that their restaurants are the best they can be. And yet, very few of them really care what you call them. So long as you recognize that they are in charge, and show the appropriate respect, that's all that matters. I'm not saying they are not addressed as chef. But if somebody responded to an order by saying "gotcha," instead of "yes, chef," none of them would get their noses out of joint.

On the other hand, those I know who make a big deal of the title tend to be less talented, less sure of themselves, less confident in their abilities. By insisting on the title, they reassure themselves that they have earned and deserve their position as head guy.

Now, as to the question of amateur chefs. Certainly in the way it's been used on this thread there is no such thing as an amateur chef; that is to say, a non-professional cook who is addressed that way. But let's posit a scenario. Somebody decides that owning a restaurant would be just the way to spend their money, and hires their daughter---who's always been a pretty good cook---as the chef. IMO, that's an amateur chef. By all definitions she is a chef. She's in charge of the kitchen. She gets paid to do so. She'll be addressed as such by the staff. But she's way out of her league because the title was assigned, not earned. She lacks both the training and ability to run a commercial kitchen. But, by Gawd! she's in charge.

If anybody watches Kitchen Nightmares or The F Word, they know that, unfortunately, there really are a lot of amateur chefs out there.
 

caterchef

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Quote: KYHeirlomer
If anybody watches Kitchen Nightmares or The F Word, they know that, unfortunately, there really are a lot of amateur chefs out there.

/img/vbsmilies/smilies/mad.gif  I have a problem putting the title " Chef " anywhere in those shows.
But I have a problem  putting the title "Senator" or "Congressman" where they say I should.
Same with  "Doctor" for professors with a PH.D or calling some CEO's "Mister."
 
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Remember, we're talking language not cooking.

I think the term "amateur chef" is meant to designate a homecook who's both passionate and skilled at cooking.  Over the past few decades, the term "chef" has been expanded to mean nearly any professional cook. The term "amateur" is appended to "chef" to make the distinction. 

The change in "chef" (in English) from "boss of the kitchen" to it's modern expanded meaning is common usage; and, to a large extent common usage rules.  Like it or not, language is muatble;  Take "hopefully," which despite common usage, hopefully you don't misuse.

Here are two very influential sources which don't quite agree, but illustrate the modern trend in the expansion of the meaning of the term:
[Fr.; = ‘head, chief’; used absolutely for chef d’office or chef de cuisine.]
The man who presides over the kitchen of a large household; a head cook.
1842 Barham Ingol. Leg., St. Romwold, The chef’s peace of mind was restored, And in due time a banquet was placed on the board.
1850 Thackeray Pendennis xxvii, The angry little chef of Sir Francis Clavering’s culinary establishment.
1860 All Y. Round No. 74, 567 You have..finally decided on the menu with your chef.
Oxford English Dictionary (unabridged), 2d ed., aka OED2, 1989, on disk).   And,
1 : a chief or head person —  now used only in French phrases
2 [French, short for chef de cuisine head of the kitchen]  a : a man skilled in food preparation who has charge of the kitchen and kitchen personnel in a large establishment (as a hotel or restaurant), planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, directing and assisting cooks, preparing special dishes  b : COOK
Merriam-Websters Unabridged Dictionary (2003), on disk; note especially the meaning at 2b.

BDL

PS.  Pendennis by Thackeray is actually pretty good.  If you have any sort of affinity for  early Victorian, early "psychological realism" literature, you should give it a try. 
 
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I've never called anyone an amatuer Chef ....Chef in training or Apprentice is appropriate for those who have not written their Red Seal
here in Ontario it's 2 years of Cooks College and 6000 hours in a professional kitchen working under a Certified Red Seal Chef. You can move around while doing your apprentship and receive letters from various chefs on the amount of hours you've put in or stay with one Chef it's up to you. I'm not sure how these small places get away with hiring someone to Chef their kitchens with no papers as the guidelines from the Health and Safety Board are so strict here in Ontario.....

 
 
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the definition of a Chef = a professional cook.
I respectfully disagree. IMHO, in the culinary world, all "chefs" are professional cooks, but all "professional cooks" are NOT chefs!

A "chef" has skills well beyond "cooking" that include kitchen management, inventory control, personnel management, business management, business finance, marketing, and a host of other skills essential for the profitable operation of a food production facility.

A "professional cook" is one who prepares food for a living.

An "amateur cook" is one who prepares food because they enjoy it or have to to survive.

In a given kitchen, paraphrasing the Highlander, "There can be only one "chef"!"

Think "military" and substitute "general" for "chef".
 
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CaterChef, it would seem from your last post that it isn't with language you have a problem, it's with authority. Don't dispair. Many of us suffer from the same problem.

By the by, "doctor" has nothing to do with medicine, per se. It connotes a certain level of training and education, and is a prefix for an entire title awarded by a jury of their peers. Thus, there are Doctors of Medicine, Doctors of Philosophy, Doctors of Jurisprudence, etc. In common usage it's mostly attached to those licensed to practice medicine. But the idea that a medical doctor is, somehow, morally superior or better trained than, say, a doctor of law, or doctor of astrophysics is just silly on the face of it.

I have a problem putting the title " Chef " anywhere in those shows.

If so, then there are no chefs anywhere in the world. While their level of ability and professionalism may leave something to be desired they meet every criteria of being chefs. Look at any of the definitions posted on this thread and tell me where any of them doesn't fit.

Let's examine the most recent Kitchen Nightmare---the one involving a women in Boca Raton. I would be the first to agree that she's in the wrong business. But the fact is, she is top dog in her kitchen, she prepares food for sale, she orders supplies and equipment, she plans menu items, and she supervises a staff of other cooks.

How is she not a chef?
 
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....Chef in training or Apprentice is appropriate for those who have not written their Red Seal
here in Ontario it's 2 years of Cooks College and 6000 hours in a professional kitchen working under a Certified Red Seal Chef. You can move around while doing your apprentship and receive letters from various chefs on the amount of hours you've put in or stay with one Chef it's up to you. I'm not sure how these small places get away with hiring someone to Chef their kitchens with no papers as the guidelines from the Health and Safety Board are so strict here in Ontario.....

 
Ummmm..... several statements here make my hair stand up on end.

1) "Chef in training" makes me see red.  A chef is the boss, the guy who hires and fires, the guy who hands out paycheques.  Cook in training maybe.....
 
2) THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A "CERTIFIED RED SCHPEIL CHEF"  The "Red Schpeil" is a title for COOKS, not Chefs.  If you don't believe me, look at the website.  And the "Red Schpeil" in every CDN province, EXCEPT Alberta is comprised of 200 -odd multiple choice kweshtuns,  THERE IS NO COOKING COMPONENT TO THIS FARCE. (except in Alberta)  How on earth do you test a cook without observing him/her cooking?  When the Canucks/Maple Leafs hold try-outs do they ask players to show up with equipment and go out on the ice, or do they give them a 200 question written test?

3) "...to Chef in their kitchens".....  Again, abusing the word Chef, this time it's used as a verb.  Almost as good as "Chef's blend Dog food.....  I believe the proper usage would be "To manage or run their kitchens".....  Again, the Red Schpeil focuses mainly on cooking kweshtuns, those who pass it may or may not have accounting skills, working knowledge of the Labour Board and Worker's Comp board, builing codes and eqipment knowledge, and a zillion other things that a "Chef" needs to know in order to run a succesfull kitchen. 

4) Don't know about Ontario, but all you need to open up a place here in B.C. is money.  Oh sure, you gotta pass the health  inspection and you have to have a "foodsafe" certificate ($50/6 hr course) but that's it.  There are no other qualifications.
 
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. I'm not sure how these small places get away with hiring someone to Chef their kitchens with no papers as the guidelines from the Health and Safety Board are so strict here in Ontario.....

 
I have no papers, have  never been to culinary school and I managed to "chef" the kitchen when I worked at the cafe. I have a sound knowlege of food safety and food handling practices as well as the requirements that public health has in place.   What mattered to the cafe owners was not the papers I had but the quaity of food I produced and I have very high standards to what I will sell to customers.   I'm not saying papers are not important but the quality of one's work also needs to be considered when hiring a chef and the people doing the hiring need to have a firm idea in their mind as to what they want from a chef and hire accordingly. 
 
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Wow I think it's great that you guys a digesting my thread in so many ways
In Ontario as I said before you have to COOK in a kitchen for 6000 hours under a Red Seal Chef before you can write your exam

For the local Mom & Pop shops I guess they have high standards of their own...... still the food handling aspect is a question
everyone is a "COOK" in my experiance. Some I guess with no formal training can do the job.....
I am only speaking from my 30 years in the business ...no offence intended
 
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The thing to realize, Gypsy, is that in most of the world---even other parts of Canada---there is no certification program that earns you the title Chef. Indeed, if certification were more common, and more widely accepted, we wouldn't be having this discussion at all. A chef would be anyone who is certified as such.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about any certification system that only has one path. For instance, assuming a 10-hour workday, your 6,000 hours amounts to less than two years in a kitchen. Why shouldn't, say, completion of a degree course at a culinary school be comparable? Or apprenticing at a recognized facility?

I have to wonder, too, if Red Seal isn't a way of limiting entry into the field, the way the AMA limits doctors. After all, how many current Red Seal chefs are there ready to take on numbers of apprentices? If I can't get a job in one of those restaurants then there's no hope for me to succeed in my choosen career.
 
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I agree with much of what your saying Heirloomer

It's a two year program at the various cooking colleges which teaches you the food-costing , purchasing ,receiving, safe food handling,
the basic fundumentals of  Sauces, Butchery, Filleting fish , Pastry, Gardemanger, well you get the idea.....whilst attending school the majority of these student have jobs in professional kitchens...being hands on to ask the real practical questions they are learning in school ...I truly beleive in hands -on when in comes to cooking. Then you get out do the rest of your apprentiship and write the exam
It is 150 multiple choice questions which seems a little Mickey Mouse to me actually, but..... it is what it is
I hire on references and experiance myself....I don't care how many papers you have, experiance says it all
I do agree Heirloomer that most parts of the world do not have these programs but Ontario is a highly populated multi-cultural Province with a High standard for education so I guess they can be as anal as they want to be
 
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Oh I forgot to add Heirloomer
we are short of apprentices  all over Ontario!
Too many a Cheifs not enough Braves     eeeeek!
 
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Gypsy I have to agree with you on the shortage of apprentices in this province.  Not only in the culinary field but in other areas as well.  I have two teens in high school now and the ads for apprenticeships are all over the guidance office.   Kids aren't leaning towards the trades anymore... they're all high tech with computers and things. 
 

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