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Old 05-17-2008, 11:57 AM   #1
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Chef or Cook?

Is there a difference, in your opinion? Is a chef supposedly more educated or creative than a cook? Or do you think of a chef being the term for a male cook? Or is a chef a professional, and a cook a hobbyist?

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Old 05-17-2008, 12:21 PM   #2
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I'm a cook but I'm not a chef. The guy at the hamburger grill is a cook, but not necessarily a chef. I would consider a chef as a person in charge of others in a kitchen and responsible the food and display from beginning to end.

Heck, many moms with a big family and kitchen could qualify as a Chef. :D
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:27 PM   #3
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Chef is French for chief or person in charge. As Escoffier developed the kitchen brigade system for large hotel and restaurant kitchens, the term obviously stuck internationally.
Cook is an English term and denotes the person in the action of cooking. English households employed heads of kitchens who were know simply as "cook".

Both require not only knowledge of cuisine and competency in cooking, but also in ordering and management of portions, cost, and staff.

A major restaurant or Hotel dining room may employ many chefs (executive chef, sous chef, chef de cuisine, etc) and many cooks (line cooks: grill chef, saute chef, chef de guarde manger [cold kitchen], pastry chef) and on it goes.

not an easy set of words to differentiate as they can be used in so many ways.

Today you hire a cook or caterer for the home and you have hired a "personal chef" go figure!
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:28 PM   #4
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i went to Chef school, till i have my diploma & own my kitchen, though, i will call myself a cook.
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:38 PM   #5
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Well, what difference does it make as long as everyone is eatin' good? Potato, potaato, tomato, tomaato. You know? Popeye said it best. "I yam what I yam."
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy Jane View Post
Well, what difference does it make as long as everyone is eatin' good? Potato, potaato, tomato, tomaato. You know? Popeye said it best. "I yam what I yam."
Yam or sweet potato???

My view has been if it's your profession you are a chef in my eyes - I guess I have one more qualification - it needs to be a restaurant that prepares things from scratch (and takes reservations ) and not just somewhere where you "flip" everything.
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Old 05-17-2008, 02:01 PM   #7
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Well, I have to agree with Kitchenelf. If it is your profession to provide fine food for people, you can call yourself a chef. In that case, the title is certainly honorable and well-deserved. I write and call myself an editor:) BTW, yam. Somehow a sweet potato is just a little too sweet. Okay, what's wrong with just being a really fantastic cook? Everyone loves the cook because not everyone can cook. I think we foodies forget that. Anyway, I prefer to call myself a culinary artist.
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Old 05-17-2008, 02:25 PM   #8
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Unless certified, one is just a cook. I believe there is a set of qualifications one must have to be considered a chef. My family sometimes says I am a chef, and I make it clear to them I am just a cook.
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Old 05-17-2008, 02:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy Jane
"I yam what I yam."
"I'm Popeye the sailor man....Toot Toot!!"


...Around here I am known as the Chief Cook & Bottle Washer!!
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:28 PM   #10
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A chef is title that is earned, either from rising through the ranks of a kitchen, and/or through certification from something like the American Culinary Federation (ACF). It is a misnomer to call yourself or someone else a chef without earning that title.
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Old 05-17-2008, 03:38 PM   #11
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Really? Hmmmm.
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Old 05-17-2008, 04:45 PM   #12
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Constance, 6,000 posts! Congradulations.

BBQM, Yeh, but you can find some of both certifiable!!!!
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Old 05-17-2008, 07:34 PM   #13
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personally, I'm a cook...yet i own a business that i sell baked goods...so does that make me a pastry chef? I don't think so. I have no formal training, but yet, I know people that HAVE been formally trained and my stuff looks and tastes batter.....
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Old 05-17-2008, 07:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Is there a difference, in your opinion? Is a chef supposedly more educated or creative than a cook? Or do you think of a chef being the term for a male cook? Or is a chef a professional, and a cook a hobbyist?
A chef runs a professional kitchen. There is a lexicon of titles below that of Executive Chef... some chefs run different areas of a professional kitchen.

Home cooks are not chefs. there is no shame in not being a chef. The world runs on home cooks. However the advertising industry decided to blend the areas and started using the term "home chef." To professionals in the industry that term means nothing.
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Old 05-17-2008, 07:46 PM   #15
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A chef is title that is earned, either from rising through the ranks of a kitchen, and/or through certification from something like the American Culinary Federation (ACF). It is a misnomer to call yourself or someone else a chef without earning that title.
One cannot be a CERTIFIED chef without going through the ACF program, IC, but there are thousands of REAL chefs the world over who have not done that. Passing the ACF programs is not a requirement for being a chef. Running a professional kitchen is.
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Old 05-17-2008, 08:04 PM   #16
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I am a Certified Pretend Chef. It says so to the left, under my name. I don't have a certificate but give me a couple of minutes on the computer and I can whip one up.

Seriously, in my opinion, the title Chef is grossly overused as are many words and titles in the American lexicon.

To be titled "Chef" is an honor earned by years of working in a kitchen and demonstrating the ability to run the whole show. As others have said, a chef is responsible for the entire food operation from menu planning, recipe testing, hiring, training, purchasing, scheduling as well as all the daily work to put meals in front of diners 1-3 meals a day. To apply the title to those who don't qualify cheapens it for real chefs.

I think the title Hero has been abused as well, but that's another thread.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:11 PM   #17
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I like that, 'certified pretend chef', I wanna be one!! LOL. I consider myself a cook, or home cook, or sometimes just that funny guy hangin round the kitchen playin with stuff.
As for certification, I think there are many on both sides that are certified... LOL.
Name a profession, and I can name an 'institute' that suddenly popped up to take your money before 'allowing' you to 'officially' be something. OK, no I can't name one for every profession, but you get the point.
And I know, they serve their purpose which is usually to ensure a certain set of standards and quality control exist in that profession.
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Old 05-17-2008, 11:40 PM   #18
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I was a certified executive chef by the ACF and ran my kitchen with 6 line cooks 8 bakers A butcher and a steward who took care of ordering all of my produce and can goods I ordered my meat and fish I all so took care of all banquets it was 12-14 hours a day with not much chance of sitting down. As others have said you have to do all of your scheduling, control food cost, plating and a gazillion other things. As well as covering when some body did not show up. It was hard work but I loved every minute
My first head chef's job I was responsible for 3 million dollars worth of food a year. And it scared the dickens out of me, this has been 30 years ago and times have changed so much the industry does not look the same any more. It was once said you start out flipping burgers and end flipping burgers almost true
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:27 AM   #19
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A chef is title that is earned, either from rising through the ranks of a kitchen, and/or through certification from something like the American Culinary Federation (ACF). It is a misnomer to call yourself or someone else a chef without earning that title.
I have to agree with you to a point. I disagree about the certification part. I've always felt funny hearing people call me "chef", and even more so now, with the word 'executive' added on the beginning.

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.

The way I look at it, you know when you deserve to be called anything, whether it's chef, doctor, lawyer, etc. Bottom line is, it's a great honorific, but when the person who usually preps for you calls out sick, it's up to you to start peeling the carrots or potatoes, yourself.
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Old 05-18-2008, 09:50 AM   #20
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Very well said VeraBlue.
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