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Old 05-18-2008, 11:34 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by VeraBlue View Post
...I never went to culinary school, (always wanted to...) yet managed to find work in a kitchen 17 years ago. It was the lowest job on the totem pole, with the exception of straight utility. I had self taught talent that the chef noticed. As a result, I was taught everything she knew about running a kitchen. I moved up in the levels of positions available, as soon as something became available. It was the chef who started calling me 'sous chef' two years later. When we parted professional company, I was offered a position as 'chef' at a large account, with a staff of 7 to oversee, and 500 meals a day to produce. I was responsible for everything from preparation to inventory control. I've continued to rise during the years, overseeing staffs as large as 50 and as small as 4. I read everything about the business I can get my hands on, and practice in my home kitchen on items I'm not perfectly skilled at.

I've seen culinary graduates that couldn't cook their way out of a paper bag, and I've seen men and women qualify for positions without sitting a day in a culinary classroom. It's about rising up the ladder at any speed, and about business, and about a love of the art. While I always feel that someone with a degree may be better than me, I'm still the one out there, doing the job, day after day. I have the respect of my staff and peers (both 'educated' and not), the respect of my clients and my vendors. The customers are happy. ...
Ah but I think in this situation, your experience and passion to rise the ranks of the kitchen totem pole is the certification. You applied what you learned to th tasks ahead that needed to be completed and in by doing so you proved your skill, knowledge, and judgment to be of an "acceptable" level. That's more or less what my take on Culinary school is. You learn the ways to do things, pick up food knowledge, hone your skills, and then plate and present your dish (es) to a group of people who will judge it and decide if you meet their expectations. So while you don't have a diploma from an ACF school, I'd say you meet the qualifications of a chef in my book any day.

"I didn't start cooking until I was 32. Before that I just ate." Julia Child
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:52 AM   #22
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Definately a cook, with a sprinkle of chef!... yes, I think there is a difference.

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Old 05-18-2008, 12:00 PM   #23
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You're kind of like Abe Lincoln, Vera...self-taught.

It's been interesting to read all the in-put. Thanks for your responses.

6000 posts? Good Grief! I had no idea. Do I get a prize or something?
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Old 05-18-2008, 01:25 PM   #24
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Me, I'd like to make it to a halfway competent cook. My son is a chef by training and responsibility - low level, low run on the ladder, just one step above cook, but he works hard and deserves for me to call him chef.
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Old 05-18-2008, 02:25 PM   #25
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I guess I should have been less ambiguous in my post. I meant to say that being certified by something like the ACF is just another way that one could be considered a chef, but it's not a requirement.

But VB is right about the culinary degree. Having one just makes you a graduate of a culinary school, it doesn't make you a chef. I've worked with CIA graduates whom I've told to their face that they wasted their money going there.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:53 AM   #26
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Same here. I've worked with "kids" that earned a Culinary Arts degree, when all they really earned was a degree in BS (and that's NOT Bachelor of Science). I've also worked with people that had no formal training, and that can outcook me in just about every situation you'll encounter in a kitchen.

To me, a "chef" is someone who is in charge of a kitchen. I'm just a cook, and the only thing I'm in charge of is my line, and the food that I produce. As long as my food looks and tastes good, and the customers/members like it, then I'm happy.
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Old 05-20-2008, 11:51 AM   #27
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Old 05-20-2008, 09:42 PM   #28
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i have an idea....you can all give me your $40K to go to culinary school and I will call you chef....gladly
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Old 05-20-2008, 09:49 PM   #29
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A chef is a cook who manages THE kitchen, a cook is someone who manages IN the kitchen.
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Old 05-21-2008, 11:26 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by SixSix210 View Post
A chef is a cook who manages THE kitchen, a cook is someone who manages IN the kitchen.

uh....not quite. I'm the executive chef, answering only to the account director...and I'm attached to the equipment in the kitchen all day long. I've heard that some chefs never leave the office, but I've never been like that. It's my belief and experience that to be the best chef I could be, it's imperative that I stay in the kitchen, cooking, along with everyone else.

It's better for quality and it's better for employee morale to see me working with them, especially when I have to give constructive directions.

How can we sleep while our beds are burning???
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