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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who Chefs Hate............

If there is one word in the English language that gets misused more than any other would have to be CHEF.

At least thats what some of my friends in the Hospitality field have been complaining about, and you know what.....

I think I'm gonna back them on this one.

Today people seem to feel so free to use this word to associate any person whose hands come in contact with food.

As a baker, I have to sit respectfully during these bi*** sessions, because in my field.....we don't have the same type of hierarchy.

Sure we have different tasks that we pursue, but all of these are done under the "Baker Umbrella."

Social media sure hasn't help define the definition of chef, if anything its deluded this once proud word.

I belong to several collective Blog sites and I can't tell you how often Suzy Homemakers or Johnny Lunchbuckets nab this title.

Whether its through entitlment or ignorance probably won't matter to anyone who has truly earned this title.

I mean think about it for a second, last night was heavy lift night at the gym, I took Arnold's suggestion and pushed through the pain, but when I got bi's and tri's were killing me.

Eventually I swallowed a handful of asprin, but that doesn't qualify me to teach classes or post articals as if I'm a doctor.

People take liberties with the word chef.

I'm not sure how Webster defines the word, and to be honest.....I don't even know if an actual-actual definition exsists.

So with that said, I'll just give you the Klecko Perception, and then I'll shut up and give you kids the platform to chime in.

Chef's are cooks, but cooks aren't chefs.

Cooks prep and prepare food.

Many people spend their entire life as a cook and should take great pride. It is a noble position that requires focus to art and technical.

Chefs however have added responsibilities......

Writing out menus -

Ingredient costing -

Purchasing -

Scheduling staff -

Predicting covers -

Marketing -

Pacifying clients -

Understanding the place of their concept within their industry -

And worst of all....taking heat from ownership -

Now alot of these responsibilities are assumed by people who work at breakfast nooks,diners or numorous other concepts.

But from my experience, and remember I have literally serviced thousands of concepts.......

I've never met a breakfast / short order / diner - cook who has had the nads to cloak themselves in the word "chef."

Not only would they be disrespecting the men and women who have worked for the title, but deep down, they know that peeps would secretly mock them for making the claim.

Another theory I have recently heard, and I'm not sure I officially agree, but in many respects it makes sence.......

It was presented to me that if you were going to use moniker, you pretty much needed to work in a restaurant that was in the top 25% of restaurants within that city.

Now....I don't know how one would figure that out, but I do kinda like it.

Anyways, I'm gonna keep it short today and hop off the soapbox, but I really am curious to hear the opinions some of you guys have concerning this topic.


  1. Agreed. As someone who has been a "cook" in many a restaurant over the millions of years I've been working, I have seen executive, sous and head chefs doing the really hard work that cooks do not do. I have a great respect for their tenacity and would not personally want that type of responsibility. I like the idea of the top 25%, however, I believe if you've gone through the training and practice on a regular basis, you deserve the title. K. Bye!

  2. chef (shf)
    A cook, especially the chief cook of a large kitchen staff.
    [French, short for chef de cuisine, head of the kitchen; see chief.]

  3. Surgery Goodness......great thoughts. Let me throw one more question at you (just for fun)....So, if you are a chef at a hotel....and then take a different position at a different concept where your responsibilities diminish....does the title travel with you, or do you have to be a "practicing" chef to maintain the title.......

    Gilson - thanks, I knew I could count on you....btw, I have some weird gossip for later.

  4. Good post. The problem is that all words tend toward corruption, because people want things they do not deserve. I see corruption around the edges of the chef idea ... but in my own head I still see the word defining a supreme dining project manager ... creative but also knowledgeable and reliable. In a hospital he/she would be called "doctor." (They have problems with their word, too.)

  5. And it goes with you, because it acknowledges mastery.

  6. "Supreme Dining Project Manager......I love it!

  7. Is there a relationship between chef and chief?

  8. The Chef is one in charge of a kitchen, Sous chef is #2, and in a large hotel other kinds of chefs are in charge of specific deparments, garde manager, saucier, etc., the only other exception to this rule is someone who can out cook 80% of chefs out there, many culinary schools out there today want there students to belive they can be a chef right out of school, only true for a handful of individuals who have there s together, this is where this variation of the term chef comes from, shame on those culinary schools

    1. Anonymous.....truer words have never been spoken.....thanks for hopping in.

  9. My son trained at the CIA (the food one) and hates it when/if I call him a chef. A chef is the head of the kitchen...the boss. There can be chefs of areas as noted above Sous Chef, Garde Manger, etc. but a line cook is a cook not a chef. I would argue that the title does NOT travel with you when you leave one position for another unless you are again in charge of the kitchen. If you were the chef at Restaurant A and then take a position at the French Laundry as a cook, you are a cook.

  10. Great points dhiza, the position or title...should be predicated on the position....not the person.

  11. My father was a chef. He ran the Oak ridge country club and the ambassador hotel in the late sixties. He was the man and that was when
    he was 35 years old. French trained from switzerland. I agree that the term is thrown around loosely. I find it sad. He would work oh, 110 at least hours a week and no need for recipes. awesome. I worked along side of him for years. I am now 39 have my own place do it all and have a hard time to call myself a chef after working with someone of that caliber. Thanks Dad for everything.

  12. A great chef is just a cook !