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when can you call yourself a chef? - Page 2

post #31 of 63
Well said Jim!!! As you all can see, this debate raises some hot issues. What it comes down to is this, professional "chefs" work hard and spend many years honing their craft (notice I don't say art, but that is a whole other topic, one debated even more hotly than this one). In this field, where most of us are way overworked and way underpaid it's one of the few things that we hold sacried. To many of us "chef" is a title of respect. One given to a person because they have achieved a certain level of knowledge and experience, and it bugs many of us when nonprofessionals toss the term around so carelessly. This in no way reflects what we think of "amateur" cooks, foodies, or gourmets. I know many "nonprofessionals" that can cook killer meals. But are they chefs? No! Using the definition I gave a few posts ago, they don't fall in the catagory, and when you heap all the baggage that us "professional" cooks put on the word, it definately doesn't. There is much more to being a chef than just cooking. It's being a mentor, a babysitter, a dishwasher, an accountant, and many more things. All these as they relate to a "professional" kitchen. The home cook has none of this to contend with. If you still don't understand this, then a challenge you to go observe a "chef" at work. Spend the day in a high-volume, fine-dining restaurant, and watch the chef. Whether he/she is one of these calm chefs, that nothing phases or a psycho chef that is everywhere at once yelling and screaming. It is this person that keeps the whole machine running. It is this person that forces the line (cooks) through an almost impossible dinner rush. Watching a true "chef" work, at his craft, is a thing of beauty, and what he/she creates, through his/her cooks, under less than ideal circumstances, is amazing.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #32 of 63
a chef is the person in charge of the kitchen, as kuan said, the leader, but keep in mind that there are a lot of kitchen managers out there, for some reason they get paid less. can you be the chef and be the only one working in the kitchen? a lot of gray areas i guess. i respect the title and position even if i do not respect the person. i get called by my given name and out of respect for my position i get called chef. good luck on your venture :chef:
"what doesn't destroy me, makes me stronger"
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"what doesn't destroy me, makes me stronger"
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post #33 of 63

...

youre a chef when your employees call you "chef."
post #34 of 63
When push comes to shove, when all is said and done, if you bear the final, ultimate responsibilty for the plate that is set before the guest...You my friend, are the chef.
post #35 of 63

When can you call yourself a Chef?

You can technically call yourself a Chef the minute you are the person responsible for everything that goes on in the kitchen you are in charge of.

Another thing many Chefs do is get professional certification. By doing this you don't have to wonder if you should call yourself a chef, you have a professional organization who will do that for you.

Two organizations come to mind, although there are other options.

The American Culinary Federation has certification levels. See their web site at: www.acfchefs.org

CC = Cerified Culinarian
CSC = Certified Sous Chef
CCC = Certified Chef de Cuisine
CEC = Certified Executive Chef
CMC = Certified Master Chef (only 59 in the U.S.)

There are also certifications for educators, and in Baking and Pastry, i.e.
CEPC = Certified Executive Pastry Chef
CPS = Certified Pastry Chef
CMPC = Certified Master Pastry Chef

Generally, you couple at least three years of working in the industry with the title you are attempting to become certified in, and couple that with classes in Sanitation, Nutrition, and Management (all of which you will have had from Johnson & Wales University). You don't have to become an ACF member to do this, but it cost more if you are not. You arrange to take a written test, and a practical test. All the information about what to study and how to do this is on their web site. They also have a toll-free number.

Another organization with certification is: International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA). The offer several levels of certification
including: CFM [Certified Food Service Manager], CFE [Certified Food Service Executive], and CMFE [Certified Master Foodservice Executive] (I'm not sure if this last one is correct). You can visit their web site at: www.ifsea.com

Having a professional certification (letters after your name), can be a good thing, and does tell people that you have '*****strated' that you are a chef, and are not just calling yourself a chef.

Obviously, there are some people who call themselves 'chefs' after working as a line cook for a couple of years. That would be a 'cook.' As we know, being a chef involves wearing many different hats, certainly knowing how to cook and bake, but also how to develop menus, purchase, inventory, make a profit, market, solve problems, hire, train, motivate, fire, and much much more.

There are Working Chefs, and Executive Chefs, and Sous Chefs, and Banquet Chefs, so learn which kind of chef you will be and label yourself accordingly.

Certification is certainly a recommended activity for you, and it will keep you learning long after you leave J&W.

Good luck to you!

Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
TVI Culinary Arts (New Mexico)

PS: There are plenty of fabulous chefs in the world who are not certified, and in many cases, they are as knowledgable and talented as any of the certified chefs; a person can have a successful career either way, but certification is something to achieve and be proud of.
[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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[I][U][B][COLOR=DarkRed][SIZE=2][FONT=Georgia] Chef Carmine J. Russo, CCC, CCE
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post #36 of 63

Chef de Partie

Guys, I think you've forgotten something very important. In the classical system, Chef de Partie was a title given to line cooks, as the person responsible for the production in that station, and those titles still exist in European kitchen today. Therefore any professional cook who has graduated from the ranks of being a commis has earned the title Chef. As to Executive Chef, that's an American invention, and speaking as someone who has held that title, you wind up being an administrative paper pusher, at which point it's better to have the title "bean counter" since that's quite literally what you're doing.

Quoting the ACF guidelines may be a very good point, but remember, the ACF isn't the institution responsible for every chef's certification in this country, and with what's happening in their guidelines (lower standards to make more chefs) I'm not sure the ACF should be garnering the level of respect it has in the past. A Chef is a reflection of their committment to excellence, and one's quality of life can be seen as a direct equation to that committment. The semantic question is, for all intents and purposes, silly. Wether or not you treat the title with respect determines how seriously you feel it should be taken. If you are the person that everyone comes to with food related questions that need definitive answers, and you're the one responsible for every error that occurs in your kitchen, and you are the creative driving force behind your food production, and you are leading by example, not voice, in your kitchen, then you are the Chef. But realize, that just means head dishwasher, so you'd better be the best dishwasher you employ.

Flame away.
If no one will follow you, you can't be the leader.
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If no one will follow you, you can't be the leader.
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post #37 of 63
If I was to ponder my position to such a heavy degree, then dinner would be late and I would be a ditch digger. Get the job done, do it with heart and feeling and understanding. If they call you chef...smile and accept the compliment.
post #38 of 63
Disagree with the lower standards point Dan. Today's CEC's run circles around the last generation of CEC's. In the past, you were awarded your CEC based solely on ACF participation. Then they introduced classes, tests, and experience points. Now they have practicals. To me it looks like they're raising the bar.
post #39 of 63
When you learn not to lean but rather to stand.

:chef:
You can never walk faster than what you can run. - Kevin Oliver
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You can never walk faster than what you can run. - Kevin Oliver
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post #40 of 63

Chef?

As i'm based in the UK so i'm not sure whether my views would be as valid as others. However, it looked as if your question was concerned with the kind of establishment you will be working in rather than your level of skills.
Am i wrong about this?

In the UK you can call yourself 'chef' when you get up in the morning and say to yourself "i think i'll try the catering industry today" and others will call themselves "chef" who had completed a five year apprenticeship and been in charge of a brigade of 60 chefs (like a friend of mine i currently work with on vairous projects).

In these cases the term becomes minimal and is more influenced by the place of work than the persons' skills. In the UK if you work in a cake shop, or bakery etc you would be less likely to use the term.

Having said all that my advice would be "do what you want to". Market forces will show you the way in the future maybe!

Hope all goes well.

Jerry
post #41 of 63
I always thought that the one who runs the kitchen, creates the menus, completes the ordering, and takes ultimate responsibility for the food in the establishment's kitchen is a chef. Based upon that determination, I call myself the chef and my wife the executive chef at our restaurant. My wife gets the executive nod because she has been designated as the one who make final decisions when we have an opinion difference. (It is important to have this agreement to avoid drawn out arguments in our busy kitchen.) We both have cooked since childhood but do not have culinary school degrees.

Reading some opinions would lead me to believe that I can only be a chef if I have a culinary degree and cook French food at my restaurant. I don't agree. The food we serve is a choice and does not represent our maximum ability. It represents the type of food that someone would come to my establishment to purchase -- and we are doing OK. The food that I cook for myself at home and at my restaurant can be quite exotic (or quite simple.) I don't choose to offer these things to my customers. I don't choose (right now) to have that type of restaurant.

My wife has a friend who graduated from Le Cordon Bleu who runs a BBQ corn stand at fairs. Is he a chef? Yes. Another friend without a culinary degreee cooks food for wholesale distribution in a commercial kitchen. Is she a chef? Yes.

The culinary institutes that charge 40K are trying to make many people believe that that is the only way to learn to cook and become a chef. I read books, watch TV chefs (dating back into the 1970's) and experiment. I know what taste combinations work and which ones don't. I don't need a degree to substantiate my tastes or my dishes.

Just my opinion.
post #42 of 63

Definition requested, start made - i think.

Hi

Somewhere in the replies someone suggested coming up with a definition of a chef.

That sounded a good idea but before a definition we need to identify what the job entails?


I've started a list for a theoretical head/executinve chef and wonder what else could be added.

Cooking!
Budgetary control and costing.
Management of Chemicals
Equipment purchase and maintenance.
First Aid.
Food safety.
Forecasting.
Health and safety at work.
Induction of staff.
Menu planning.
Pest control.
Personnel issues.
Portion control.
Purchasing.
Quality control.
Recipe creation.
Security.
Storage control.
Staff care.
Staff selection.

Jerry

PS, there is a related issue of what i think is called job title inflation.
I was working in a four star hotel in 1964 and for the first time ever i met someone who described himself as an executive chef. He didn't wear a hat because i think that he thought his job was administrative. As far as the UK is concerned we've had job title inflation for years. Chef instructors now Directors! I do still feel however that the description CHEF should convey some level of skill.
post #43 of 63
I am not a chef,just a dedicated home cook(35y).When at age of 16 I expressed my interest in professional cooking ,my aunt who was the sous chef in a parisian brasserie,took me with her on a education tour.After being tucked out of the way in a tight place(don't move,don't talk,just disappear)I witnessed a very impressive rendition of Dente's inferno complete with flames,screaming & tears.Useless to say my dreams of chefdom came to a screeching halt.But I learned aw,fear&respect for the peoples working in professional kitchen.I also understood why she refused to cook for the family when asked.It would have been like asking a front line vet on r&r to go target shooting to relax.Hats off to the heroes.
post #44 of 63
well i would say you can call your self a chef once you have had more experiance in the trade. im known as a second chef and it has taken me 13 years to get there and it wont be long till i get to head chef but for now i would say you were just a cook but i might be wrong. :)
post #45 of 63

Fire the dishwasher

I found that when I had to fire the dishwasher on a Friday night for stealing and whole PSMO, then had to work the dish pit for the next 6 hours, alternating between the line, the dining room and the dish pit (changing jackets between of course), that is when my staff starting calling me CHEF. You have to earn that title. Many of the people I went to culinary school with (CIA '03) thought they would be a chef the day they graduated, but that is just not the case.

From day 1, walk into any situation, roll up your sleeves and get in it with the prep cooks, the dishwasher, the line cooks, and the weird guy that does the breads. You will find you will earn their respect very fast, and with it the right to call yourself "Chef" :chef:

Good Luck, Chef, ;) and God Speed

Chef Bill
If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary's. But if it deals you a truckload of hand grenades... now THAT'S a message!!
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If life deals you lemons, make lemonade; if it deals you tomatoes, make Bloody Mary's. But if it deals you a truckload of hand grenades... now THAT'S a message!!
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post #46 of 63
I believe you're a Chef when you deserve to be called a Chef.
Sig?
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post #47 of 63

Great points Bill,Pete,Chef Ed,Jim

I have about 13 years exp. started on the line, went to culinary school moved up to Sous Chef after years on the line. I run my own operation people call me Chef and I feel like I have earned it through my exp.Also a member of the A.C.F C.C.C. But no one that has ever worked for me has called me a Pompous A** but there are some out there.

Somethings are better earned than given.
"Today, I've personalized each of your meals. For example, Amy, you're cute. So I've baked you a pony."
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"Today, I've personalized each of your meals. For example, Amy, you're cute. So I've baked you a pony."
Bender Futurama
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post #48 of 63
hi gang, im new to this forum and this particular topic caught my eye. i can see that there is a lot of opinion thrown out with a good deal of fact to back it up, so id like to throw in my 2 cents and maybe one of you could follow up with my thinking. i graduated with a bachelors degree in interior and urban design, i went to school to be a builder and to eventually restore old pre-civil war structures here in the south. anyway, my career path has landed me in a position in one of our largest architectural firms in MS. as not only chief designer, but project manager. now, where am i going with this? hang on, im getting there. i have been referred to as an architect, my boss calls me one, clients call me one and associates, likewise, BUT! i am not a graduate of an accredited architecture program. i am not eligible to take the NCARB, the architectural registration exam, so by law in the state of mississippi and 98% of the rest of the states in this great nation of ours, i cant legally market myself as an architect. do i have 10+ years in this profession? yes i do, have i interned under some of the most brilliant architectural minds in the southeast and beyond? i have. do i know everything there is to know about architecture? absolutly not, but am i good at what i do? my opinion is yes, basing that on a proven track record of profitability and performance. But, can i be called an architect? NO! that, folks is the law, fortunatly, culinary arts is a little different, If you are passionate and devoted to your culinary craft and have the willingness to learn, accept new challenges, abide by a higher standard and your training is in line with a set criteria designed by experts in the field, and only after meeting those set criteria and earning your mark, then i think you should wear the "chef" hat with pride. my two cents, take it or leave........
post #49 of 63
Am I a chef?

Not by credentials. However, after over 10 years of living in the trenches of the kitchen, I'm fairly confident in my skills.

Sure, I may not have any formal training. I may not have spent any time in a registered educational facility. But I have worked under some fantastic chefs. I have learned from my successes, and also from my mistakes. I'm now in a position where I command the helm of the most popular restaurant in a community that is overcrowded with restaurants. I know I'm a good cook. People tell me that all the time. I let my head and my chest swell for a moment, but then I remember the reason why I'm really there. It's not for the recognition. It's for the love of food. Period. (Well, also the fact that I'm a bit of an adrenaline junky)

Call me "chef" if you so desire. But that's up to you. I'll accept the title, but I don't expect it.
post #50 of 63
Better to be a good cook any day than be called chef! :p
Turn me over for I am cooked on this side.Saint Lawerence
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Turn me over for I am cooked on this side.Saint Lawerence
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post #51 of 63
I was thinking about this some more. This question comes up a lot on various chef discussion boards. Am I a chef? Do I care? I love to cook and invent with food. I don't have classical training. I have done much classical cooking. I read many cook books. I own a restuarant. We've won an award.

I run the kitchen from the bottom up. I cook, I order, I administrate, I take orders, I serve, I clean toilets and dishes, I review financial statements, I take deliveries, I sweep and mop floors, I vacuum, I deal with contractors, I do payroll, I clean and fix equipment and more. Some days I do everything and some days I do nothing.

I have two business oriented college degrees. I don't have a culinary degree. Most recently before owning a restuarant I was a corporate VP finance geek. Did I care about that? No, I hated it, but the experience helps me run my food business.

After further thought I've changed my mind from my earlier post. I'm not a chef. I may never be a chef. I'm a good cook who made the right financial decisions and was able to buy a new profession. I'm going to attend a culinary school for additional classical training. I love to cook and invent with food. I always have. I don't need a title to love my profession.

Love what you do and forget the title.

Wow, what a ramble. :o :o :o :o
post #52 of 63

A Chef / A Cook

Your business, you are the Chef!

I would much rather be known as a good cook because there are plenty of chefs who can't!
post #53 of 63
If I am wearing a coat and checks and I'm out at the grocery store, someone will always come up and ask, "So, are you a Chef?" My stock answer was, "No, I work for a living." No civilian got the joke, ever.
The irony? After getting frustrated with the industry (I did my 2 years in Culinary School and held every crap job imaginable....), I went back to college to finish my Chem degree. Yesterday, the GM of a small Country Club called and offered me the Chef job. I took it and told him, "I'm not the Chef, just the line cook who orders stuff and fires people." He's also letting me finish my degree. I know, what's the point? There isn't one. I've worked for people that have the title of Chef, but not the skills and I've worked with prep cooks that know more and truly care about food than I ever will. If this jobs work out, I'll just be Megan, cool line chick that has the ability to give you the day off.
BTW: The person I am replacing called him/her self Chef, this person graduated from culinary school yesterday and was fired today. This person did not take care of the clubs members and ran off favorite front staff, this person REFUSED to put the ticket in the window w/a completed order b/c the waitstaff "should know" what their food and its appropriate grouping should look like............
post #54 of 63
When I picked a screen name for this site, I meant no offense to anyone who as worked for years to earn the title 'Chef'. I am just a student now but I ispire to be the best I can. I have endless respect for those who teach me and realize that when I am 60+ I will still be learning new things. Hats off to everyone who has worked for it and I hope to be with you one day!;)

~Emily
post #55 of 63
Tiny,
No need to worry. I have seen this question go round and round many times. The plain truth is that we don't have accredited professional standards as in other countries. Until we get there, anyone can be a chef. All groups out there are really clubs and not interested in our profession to become a certified professionals. We won't see it in our life time. There will never be lisenced chefs. This is the number one reason for not letting my son into this industry.
All, please don't respond with, there are lousy lawyers and CPA's.
Tiny, feel free to use the chefs title.;)

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #56 of 63
Amen to that.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #57 of 63

I completely agree with you here. I went to culinary school, and worked countless hours to do so, then started working as one. So I proudly call myself a Chef, as a doctor would be a doctor, as an engineer would be an engineer, etc. I appreciate you saying these kind words, it is good to hear that someone has their facts straight :)

 

post #58 of 63

This is also very insulting to me and my profession. I work hard to call myself a Chef. I don't waltz around introducing myself as Chef, that would be pompus; nor does any Chef I know. But in my profession, if someone asked me what I did or what did I go to school for, I tell them I am a Chef, who went to Culinary School.

 

I am proud to be a Chef, and it is not in any way shape or form fat headed. I am what I am, and I wouldn't demean anyone elses title.

 

post #59 of 63

Chefmichelle8.

      What are you agreeing to?  and what were you insulted about?

I'm just curious, because the posts are are older. I'm interested though. Has anything changed in 7 yrs?

pan

 

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is To Short!!
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post #60 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefmichelle8 View Post

I completely agree with you here. I went to culinary school, and worked countless hours to do so, then started working as one. So I proudly call myself a Chef, as a doctor would be a doctor, as an engineer would be an engineer, etc. I appreciate you saying these kind words, it is good to hear that someone has their facts straight :)

 

A doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc., is a professional, the same as a professional cook.

 

A doctor, lawyer, engineer, etc., MAY become a Chief Executive Officer, or other Chief just as a professional cook MAY become a Chef (French for Chief).

 

Going to culinary school trains one to cook and may lead to becoming a professional cook, but in no way prepares one to be a chef. Going to business school or surviving in the business world may train one to take on the role of Chief (or Chef), but there are no guarantees.

 

Chief (or Chef) is a title, generally earned, it is NOT a profession!

 

Unless one is in charge of a station, kitchen, group of kitchens, or otherwise have the overall responsibility for the management of a food enterprise, one is not a Chef, IMHO.
 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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