What is the difference between cooks/chefs? - Page 2
Charlie Trotter, Alice Water, Thomas Keller... Lets see, they all have/had very sucessfull business, all know what they're doing, all able to train up competant staff, all continue to educate themselves with everything culinary. Why, then do we need to ask ourselves if they are "Chefs"? What's next, discussing if there's sand at the beach?
Here's a menu from a practical test. Test was done in a regular hotel kitchen, during regular hours--sharing space and equipment with regular staff. Applicant was presented the menu and given 4 hours, then it was served to 10 judges.
-Applicant's choice of plated salad, choice of min. two dressings
-Goujons of sole "Prince Murat" (sole to be skinned and fileted in front of judges)
-Glazed whole shank of Veal, garnished with turned vegetables (shank to be cut from whole leg of veal, in front of judges
-Spaetzli (batter made, spaetzli formed and poached in front of judges),
-Cauliflower florets with Hollandaise (again, made in front of judges)
-Braised fennel bulbs
-Raspbery sorbet (made in front of judges, fresh rasp'ies, sugar and water)
-Minimum of two mignardises
After the menu was served, smaller tasks are given to the applicant: Bone out a few lamb racks, filet a few trout, fabricate chicken parts, make a fish fumet, turn a few spuds, etc..
Yeah, yeah, stodgy old hat stuff, archaic, and all that, you're right, it's true. But look at it a little closer. I see a minimum of 10 methods of cooking and some serious dancing all over the kitchen. So what kind of test was this? A Chef's test?
This was a practical test for a cook's apprentice, matter of fact it was MY test menu, July 11, 1988. Culmination of 3 years of near-slavery work. Sure there were 2 days of written tests too, but the practical test accounted for 52% of the entire 3 years, fail that one, and you can kiss 3 years goodbye as wasted time. After 4 sleepless weeks I got the results of my practical test via certified mail: I was officially a.... Cook. No bones about it, a cook, not a chef, written on a Gov't issue document, in no less than 4 official languages--Cook..... Was and still am proud of that title, worked hard for that title, no stigma there.
So what's the point you ask? Read the first paragraph of this post, I think N. America has a serious stigma with the word "Cook"....
Look at the ACF site, the word "cook" isn't even mentioned, it's been replaced with "Culinarian". Look at the site closer, look at the criteria for "Sous Chef". In order to write the test, you must be in a supervisory postion, that is, train/supervise staff under you. The practical part of the test includes grilling a steak to "Med. rare". If the applicant screws up on the test, what happens? He goes back to work at his regular job, supervising staff, that's what....
A Chef is a supervisory postion, and a Chef has got to be a competant cook in order to supervise compentantly. Kind of like an NHL hockey coach, the coach is always an ex NHL player, maybe not an all-star, but definitely a competant player. Has to be, or he couldn't get the team to do what needs to be done.....
While I agree with the larger point that formal training isn't absolutely necessary, I also pointed out that the examples were somewhat less than accurate. Trotter and Keller had extensive training. Not only that, Trotter in fact went to culinary school -- the CCA in SF. I also argued that Waters is not a chef -- nor is she a particularly good cook by restaurant standards. And why should she be? She is and always was FOH. She's a food genius yes. She's one of the great restaurateurs of her age. But a chef? No. (FWIW, the first chef at CP was Paul Aratow, the second Jeremiah Tower. Alice -- never. Alice's first food job, as far as I know, was as co-owner, with Paul Aratow, of Chez Panisse.)
This followed a discussion of the canard that Julia Child was a chef even though she was self-taught and never ran a kitchen. In fact, Child received an immense amount of culinary training including graduating as a qualified chef from Le Cordon Bleu, taught culinary arts, collaborated on the most important cookbook of the last half of the twentieth century and ran several large kitchens -- although never for a restaurant. So, yes, she was a chef.
What's the problem is with the word "cook?" I have no idea. I was a line cook in a couple of really good restaurants for a little while, and owned and ran my own small catering outfit for a little bit longer after that. Was I a chef? Not really. I was a cook. Anything wrong with that? No.
Is there a difference between cook and chef? Yes. Not every soldier, no matter how good, is a general.
Somehow the language has become so debased and our snobbery so high that no one can be what they are without the prevarication of euphemisms. I blame it on violent video games and too much exposure to Joe Lieberman.
All the rest is blind semantics.
Until they get lost.
Until they get lost.
chef,sous, line cook ,stationsIn France where the brigade stations actually were began , Chef meant chief .Chief being the head of or boss of the operation. The chef should call the shots when it comes to the proper running of the kitchen, reason being if something goes astray in kitchen he is the one management or employer goes to. The buck usually stops at the chefs office which is the way it should be.
We have come a long way in th U.S from the old system, mostly because of economics. How many places today have or even can afford a Butcher, Baker or Chef Garde Manger?
Unless you are huge it is price prohiitive. Back in the late 50s the industry started making and buying things already preped, and frozen seeing the writeing on the wall of the future. Today unfortunatly you could produce a banquet for 300 with simply a fryer, oven, sink and a table to assemble. Whether this good or bad? thats up to you. EJB :chef:
A little knowledgeWhilst there is a little truth in some of the comments about the French word for chef meaning chief, the world over the word chef is excepted as being a professional chef working in a establishment of some reputation. The word cook is generaly given to those producing large quantaties of food within large establishments ie schools, hospitals etc. This of course should not be confused with someone being a good cook which is not a job title but a complement.
Maitre chef de cuisine by profession, passionate about cooking.
Can't really understand what you mean by "the world over the word chef is (accepted) as being the professional chef working in an establishment of some reputation." What, then is exactly your definition of "chef" other than working in an establshment of some reputation? What are his/her duties?
Then the word cook, again this abhorance, stigma actually, of the word cook. Typically by N. American standards cook is only designated for hospitals and large facilities. Do these facilities have "chefs" too? The guys who hire, fire, cost menus, schedule, supervise, fill in when some eejit calls in sick, and kick butt when warranted? What about the guy who preps large quantities of food in the bqting dept of a large 5 star hotel, I dunno, searing off a couple of hundred 4 oz filets or something, or maybe plating 500 cold appies, is he a cook or a Chef? If the employer is a 5 star hotel does it give him give him this title automatically or is he just a double-plus-good-newspeak chef/cook/culinarian?
What is the French word for cook, "cuisinier?"
This site is called cheftalk that does not mean everybody who writes on it is a chef, and not everybody who works in a kitchen is a chef.The question asked was what is the difference between a chef and a cook my reply was meant to be short and to the point.
Chefs cook and cooks cook to me the difference is what they cook. Establishments that use job titles such as sous chef,chef de partie or commis chef do tend to be hotels and restaurants and generally speaking hospitals and schools tend to call thier kitchen staff cooks. Both jobs require a lot of skill and expertise, there are cooks who would not know the difference between a cock lobster and a hen and there are chefs who could not cook for more than 20 people at a time. However there are some establishments that have kitchen staff that do not qualify for either job titles, both job titles are earned through experience and training, some time taking many years.
In answer to your questions,
cuisiner or cuisinere is French for a cook [male and female] not to be confused with cuisinere meaning cooker or stove.
The job title for the person you describe would be manager.
I hope this clarifys a few points. Steve chefinfrance
ps In France both jobs comand the utmost respect.
My postion is not to question your opinion, but I welcome any new opinions on the meaning of "Chef", as it helps me with some of my non-cooking duties, which I (not so fondly) refer to as "kidney work".
"Kidney work" means going through stacks of resumes and then finding suitable candidates for interviews. As I have stated in previous posts I truly believe that the word "chef" is one of the most abused words in current English language, and here are some samples: "Salad chef", Line Chef", "drop chef" (had to ask what this one means, it means the guy who puts stuff in the fryer basket...) "Sous Chef" and it's related spelling versions (Soo Chef, Sue Chef, Saus Chef...) etc, etc. Basically, when in N. America I learned to ignore the title of the postion and focus on the duties, responsibilities and, most importantly the length of time. However during the interviews it is impossible to avoid the "chef" confrontation, especially when negotiating salaries. I have observed verbal abuse and temper tantrums when I offer an applicant with no working experience minimum wage. "But I'm a Chef!". Well, no sweetheart, you went to a cooking school which claims to pump out Chefs,( I argue it pumps out cooking school graduates, but I digress...) but you've got didly-squat to your resume other than 9 mths of school, hence the minimum wage. Same goes for line cooks with 2 or 3 years experience and crown themselves with the "chef" title and want a Sous Chef job. Have you ever been solely in charge of running a 60 seat restaurant before? No. Can you order goods and schedule staff when the Chef is away? No. Can you keep an even food and labour cost when the Chef is on holidays for a week? Dunno.
So you see, the whole "Chef" thingee is quite near and dear to my heart and business, hence my big, opinionated mouth. But I don't think it has anything to with WHAT a cook/chef cooks with, I think it has a lot to do with the level of experience, duties and responsibilities.
The dif. between a Chef and a cook.......the paycheck!!! Now I know I'm gonna catch **** from many for that, but , I don't care. This thread has shown many dif. opinions , and this one is mine.
After cooking for almost 20 years , and all of us know how THAT goes. (dishroom, prep,salad,line,sous...you know the "evolution") I struggled with this whole thing....am I a chef or a cook? Well I reecently bought my first house and on one of the 10 thousand forms you need to fill out and list occupation, I wrote CHEF. I'm no longer milking the clock for my fat $8.50 an hour. I'm very comfortable as the sous chef at a VERY busy steakhouse. It's not the type of food I like to do, but I/we do it very well and the bottom line is I'm now making more $$$ than I ever have!!
Now most of you may be of the belief that cooking is a passion, and it's not all about the money. While cooking is a passion of mine....it's also my career. My occupation. My passion for working with food is what drives me to perfect the craft and skill of making food look and taste great. The better I become, the more opportunities I have created for myself. Again the whole "evolution" thing. I had an oppurtunity years ago to work for and train under a french Master Chef at a 5 star place. He liked me, my attitude and my skills. But he was only gonna offer me $9.00 an hour!!! Who can live on that??? Seriously!!???? I was a bit of a road warrior at the time so I moved on figuring I'd get my training as I always have, by working. While it IS an honor to train under someone like that, bottom line is.......the bottom line.
Now.........commence thrashing the noob.
Some places pay their Chef less than what they would make in a lower position elsewhere.
But it should be the top position at a particular location.
So it comes back to knowledge, leadership and responsibility, regardless of compensation.
In 1968, I was a recent university graduate, drafted into the army, sent as an infantryman to Vietnam. On a return to base camp, off patrol, we were told that we'd have to eat LRP rations unless someone knew how to butcher and cook lamb. The XO had traded with Aussie forces for some whole dressed lamb. This lamb was nicely processed, wrapped in heavy cheesecloth, but, literally whole. I'd done the kind of meatcutting you might perform in a modest restaurant, but I hadn't fabricated an entire lamb. My buddies deserved a better meal than LRP rations, so I "confessed" to being an experienced butcher.
I broke down the lamb to leg, rib roast, and stewing meat; the remainder I donated to the Vietnamese who worked with us.
I roasted those legs and roasts and tucked away the stewing meat for another day.
In my memory, they were absolutely delicious.
The NCOIC came to me after the first meal of leg of lamb and said, " Rossi, you are a *****Chef." (there were a couple of complimentary descriptive expletives prior to chef)
It felt better than being a general.
But if I may indulge myself for a moment, I've been trying to look through some old notes and text books from school to formulate some what of a decent reply.
There was a great deal of stuff to sort through since I was in school back in the early 80's. There were also several different point's of views, definitions, statements, etc, etc, etc.
Out of all the constants found, the one that stood out was the time honored tradition behind being dubbed a Chef. Yes a cook cooks and a Chef cooks but that's where the similarities end. Then, IMHPO, I found the perfect statement.
It was in my fourth edition copy of The Professional Chef on page one titled "A Chef is Many Things". Granted this was a revision last done 1974 but that is almost the perfect time to draw a proper statement. Mainly because it would have been before the Culinary Boom of the late 80's until now. For the record and not to imply I did.... I did not attend The CIA. I, like many other students at my school (College of DuPage) did have their text book for the purpose of reference. In fact I also have the The New Professional Chef as well as a hundred other books and magazinesi nn my library for the same purpose of reference.
Here is what was written.
There is far more to it but that is what we as Chef's were taught. Yet at the same time we were taught the other responsibilities that were unfolding at the time and now have become just as important as the food.
Staff management, costs, public relations, purchasing, health codes, nutrition, marketing, etc, etc, etc. Granted there are some that are better than others but this says it for me.
The final points that it comes down to for me are this. A cook follows recipes, prepares food to the standard of the person or persons above them. The Chef is meant to be that stopping point as the person who is the standard for the production of recipes, and execution of product to be served to the guest. I've known cooks that can memorize and recite the ingredients and procedures of a recipe verbatim but I've also seen those same people without a recipe in front of them burn water. I've very rarely seen a true Chef not be able to make something palletable out of even the most basic to the most complex of ingredients. It also comes down to schooling. Whether it be a Formal setting like a classroom or real life experiences like your Charlie Trotters. Finally a cook doesn't necessarily need to posses the desire to follow or believe in this;
Hey! The bar has to be set somewhere.:cool:
I may never had hit all the points mentioned above, after all I am human, but I always did and still aspire to do such.
I think the definition is complicated, in America at least, by two factors.
1. Ego. I don't know why or how, but somehow "cook" has become a negative word, indeed, almost a perjorative. My only professional cooking experience was as a short-order cook, and I revel in the title. But, for some reason, cooks, today, don't want to be called cooks. They think the term is demeaning.
2. We try to combine too many functions in one person. The ultimate of this is the U.S. presidency, in which we expect one person to be both a statesman and a politician.
In the kitchen defining "chef" used to be easy. Just look at oldschool's notes. But now we expect so much more. A chef is the guy (or, increasingly, gal) who runs the kitchen on both a creative and managerial level; he is a business manager; he is an inventory control specialist; he is a graphic designer; he is.......no wonder we can't figure it out.
There is no one to enforce it, no recognized body to tell the cooking schools to stop calling thier students "Chefs", or to take the schools to task when they claim that upon graduating you can earn $60,000 as a freshly minted "Chef". There still the stigma/abhorance of the word "cook". No one to tell the media in all of it's forms what our little definition is, or to slap some floozy on mainstream TV upside the head because she's making fun of our profession and really, really abusing the title "Chef".
There are no national standards for "Cook", which I feel is the starting point for any Chef's career path. This, I feel-- no Gov't recognised standards for the professions of "Cook" or "Chef",-- is the cause of all of this navel gazing, all the doozy TV "Chef's" and their really cra**y media-hyped glossy cookbooks, the "drop-chef" and "prep-chef" titles on resumes, and the logic that a cook can only work at hospitals or staff canteens.
Glad to see you have them in the correct order of importance, BDL. Everybody knows that skill, talent, and hard work just don't hold a candle to blind luck.
I recently decided to just learn on my own i read a lot of books i recently got another job finally at a very nice place imo. When classes roll around again at my community college that is literally down the road from me i will take their 1 year diploma program only 3k i met the chefs there and wow they are good with tons of experience i have a friend in the program now he says its awesome. And i could work wile attending the classes so it works out. i always threw ideas around about going to a big name school but do i really want that kind of debt for it to just snowball and go in to default i do not have rich parents by a long shot to help me out and for them to co sign would be suicide to them and me if things went wrong.
Anyone can cook, haven't you seeing "Ratatouille"? If you are passionate enough. And Everyone who is passionate about cooking is a Cook. You are the Chef, when you become proficient in what you do. You know how to cook properly on right temperatures, have uniform cuts of meats, vegetable, you follow the standards, but have our unique touch to everything.
You know how to preserve all the goodness of the produce. Being able to bring full palate to the table with all its benefits of vitamins and minerals. Being proficient in this fiend comes from the school. And then you are the Chef.
You can be executive chef if you are in charge of whole kitchen and own your place. Or by working in the restaurant, few long years, with great discipline and You have a chance to become one.
Sous chef is the right hand of Executive.
And then there are some other station chefs, at garde manger, saucier, poissonnier, pastry station...
I am a culinary school trained, and more then 10 year experiences Private Chef.
Edited by tamuna - 8/24/10 at 10:55am
Nope gotta disagree with that one. The "acid test" for cooks vs Chefs is this:
How they are judged.
A "cook" is judged by what they put on the plate.
A Chef is judged on how well they manage their resources.
This is the way the employer sees things. The guy who signs the paychecks....
I've never heard of a "Sew" Chef, but have been a Sous Chef many times