Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Real vs Fake Chefs


GlorifiedRice
 Share

Recommended Posts

it is a bit like PhD's who insist on the title "Doctor," with less justification.
A minor point....PhDs are quite legitimately called "Doctor". A PhD who insists on it is an ass of course, but so is an MD who insists.Agree w the rest of your post.

Sure. My point is that the "chef" here is a blowhard, with even less legitimacy than a PhD who introduces himself as "Doctor so-and-so." That "doctor" might be technically justified, because that's what his diploma says, but in common usage "doctor" means a medical doctor, not a sociologist or whatever. "Chef" on the other hand is nearly meaningless outside of a restaurant kitchen.

As a bit of an aside, we have academically certified "Master" welders, machinists, carpenters, plumbers, etc. in my country. The only times I hear the title actually used is in job applications or sarcastically, when they really screw something up.

I realize the focus of this discussion is on what constitutes a "real chef" but I'm surprised more people aren't getting their hackles up over the term "normal food". Having a category of food he considers "normal" would be much more offensive to me than claiming to be a chef (assuming he's not). Even if it were possible to categorize food as "normal", what that category contained would have to vary so much based on location, tradition, personal preference, etc. that it would require thousands of sub-categories. Instead of trying to drill him on whether or not he's a chef, I'd be drilling him on what he considers "normal food". I think that may tell you all you need to know about his actual experience and knowledge.

That's a good point. I think "chef" really betrayed his ignorance and closed-mindedness with that comment. It doesn't prove he's not a culinary school grad or the head of a commercial kitchen or whatever definition we accept for "chef," but it does prove he's not worthy of the respect he's demanding.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alternately, since I am in fact a fake chef, I can vet your potential questions to see if you can tell me from the real thing :smile:.

I still maintain there is no such creature as a fake chef. As for the questions, I've been cooking in restaurant and catering kitchens for a fairly long time and consider myself somewhat up to date on food trends and cooking techniques and I wouldn't want to try to play Stump The Chris Hennes. :laugh:

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realize the focus of this discussion is on what constitutes a "real chef" but I'm surprised more people aren't getting their hackles up over the term "normal food".

I think it's possible to be a real chef in every sense of the term without having an open mind about food. Whether you've run a successful South Carolina BBQ joint for 50 years, or run a successful street booth in Singapore, I don't equate a 'chef' with being worldly, educated, or anything else. It just means you can run a kitchen and be responsible for the product delivered (preferably an excellent one).

I don't find it unreasonable that an American Chef might take a dim view of some international (or currently popular foodie) trends. In fact, such a thing might be a travesty in the sense that food traditions could be lost.

Regarding the basic meaning of the word 'chef', perhaps it's only my own naive view with only a beginner's knowledge of French, but it seems to me that the credits on any French movie will list any number of 'chefs' - none of which have anything to do with food. It seems to me that the best one word translation is 'Chief'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it's possible to be a real chef in every sense of the term without having an open mind about food.

I do too... but I'd like to think somebody actively advertising as being a culinary professional and looking down their nose at what others are doing would know that a whole world of food is out there. Even if it is a world they choose not to explore.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again to digress. In our neck of the woods, they don't award an "MD" for completing medical training. Traditionally they have awarded two Bachelor's degrees (Medicine and Surgery). The use of "doctor" for these graduands is a courtesy title. As such, and having one, I would defend the PhD's use of the title doctor as being technically more correct.

Getting back to the original question. As the title is neither mandated nor regulated, anyone can call themselves "chef." You'd hope that they had something to do with creating food and, typically, directing others to do so. The question is whether other, proper, chefs would apply that title to them. I've heard that the jury of peers amongst the cooking fraternity in using titles such as "chef" is quite fixed and robust in their views.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How about just getting this guy to cook? If he's scoffing at what you have been making, then it'd be very interesting to see what he decides to put together. Doesn't even have to be anything "fancy" - bistro fare is rustic, relatively quick to put together (if slow to finish), and it's peg easy to spot someone who isn't comfortable in a kitchen when they have to put together a dozen servings of anything on the spot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I realize the focus of this discussion is on what constitutes a "real chef" but I'm surprised more people aren't getting their hackles up over the term "normal food". Having a category of food he considers "normal" would be much more offensive to me than claiming to be a chef (assuming he's not). Even if it were possible to categorize food as "normal", what that category contained would have to vary so much based on location, tradition, personal preference, etc. that it would require thousands of sub-categories. Instead of trying to drill him on whether or not he's a chef, I'd be drilling him on what he considers "normal food". I think that may tell you all you need to know about his actual experience and knowledge.

Hes also stated that "I'm a chef, I only make tuna salad with fresh tuna steaks, "we" dont use canned goods"

He claims his "Bistro" is in the theater district of NYC and they only serve lunch.

UGH so tired of him

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GlorifiedRice,

I would suggest you ignore him. I suspect that, due to the nature of most online communities, there is very little at steak due to this "chef" potentially lying, or even being an honest but arrogant jerk. I can almost guarantee you that the only reason he says such things is because it gets him attention. While your choice to ignore him won't deprive him of attention (i.e. you mentioned he has lots of fans), your personal attacks directed towards him might be wrong, and even if they are correct, they probably won't paint you in the best of light. Ignoring him obviously won't make him go away, but choosing to not let him bother you will make your annoyance with him go away.

You can't always change people's behaviors, especially when they are ignorant dolts on the internet, but you can always choose to ignore their personal form of stupidity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hes also stated that "I'm a chef, I only make tuna salad with fresh tuna steaks, "we" dont use canned goods"

Sounds like a waste of a good tuna steak to me... but I'm not a big fan of tuna salad.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

these type of people have a way of flaming out...it's certainly not unique to the food community, I saw this on another forum a couple of years ago. Poster was always on, spouting nonsense, puffing himself up to be highly skilled at something...and one day someone who was from the same area joined the forum, read his posts and called him out. His balloon quickly deflated and he disappeared. Taking his toys and going to another sandbox.

On the internet, it's a lot of hyperbole and ego building. If nobody feeds the trolls, they go away. :laugh:

"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's entirely possible for a dedicated foodie to know more about things food related than a random chef. While a foodie is traveling around visiting culinary destinations, reading books, researching online and browsing eGullet trying to keep on top of everything food, chef might go to his/her restaurant and do what he/she does for 15 hours a day the same way he/she has been doing it for 20 years with no concern at all for what anybody else is doing. Doesn't mean he/she is a "fake" chef. Doesn't mean that a foodie with more knowledge is more a chef than he/she is. There are no things "only chefs know". Well, there is the first rule of chef club... but that's secret so I can't post it. :raz: But I will agree that "Don't you ever cook anything normal" is a pretty rude thing to say.

I suspect those foodies on eGullet who have read the MC probably know more about food and cooking than 95% of the Chefs out there. Just today I tried to buy some self sealing tape to use on my Sous Vide bags and the two largest restaurant supply companies in San Jose California did not carry any Sous Vide equipment period. This means almost no restaurants in the area seem to be at all close to the state of the art.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That doesn't surprise me. The number of restaurants using sous vide equipment is probably a pretty huge minority. The number of restaurants doing much of anything you find in MC is probably a huge minority (with the disclaimer that I haven't read those books).

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Ph.D. is an academic degree and an M.D. is a medical degree. Having earned either one entitles the bearer to be addressed as doctor.*

The OP seems to have decided the guy is a "fake" chef. Even if he was a "real" chef, he'd still push her buttons by puffing himself up and putting her down. How she deals with him as an obnoxious irritant is the issue here.

IMO, a chef is someone who creates dishes and is in charge of all or part of a kitchen in a professional setting. Having the legitimate title of chef is no indication of competence.

*In 1987, a week after I was awarded a Ph.D., my wife and I celebrated at a local fine dining restaurant. When the Maitre D welcomed "Mr. and Ms. mano" I corrected him, "It's Dr. mano." He apologized and gave us at the worst seats among dozens of good ones. My first words to my wife were, "I'm sorry, but he gave us exactly the seats I deserved."

The sweetbreads were terrific and we laughed over what a dick head I was. Except in professional settings I never introduce myself as doctor.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

James Beard would bridle at being called a chef. At one time the title Chef was bestowed only on graduates from the Cordon Bleu in France.

I am really puzzled by this.

To the best of my knowledge, Cordon Bleu was created to teach cooking to people who had no intention of working professionally. In France (and most of Europe) those who want to cook professionally enter into an apprenticeship. This is usually 3 years and the apprentice is typically 15 yrs of age when they start. The classroom education is provided by the ministry of education-as is for many other trades, as well as the testing and certification.

After competing the apprenticeship, they receive the title of "Cook". I did so when I completed my apprenticeship in Switzerland in 1988, and to be sure there was no mistake, "Cook" was repeated in all 4 of Switzerland's national languages on the document....

As well, in France, (and again, for most of Europe) the "boss" is referred to as the "Chef". This could be the owner or supervisor of a store, an auto-body shop, a newspaper editor, or Chief of Police. While cooks will acknowledge their boss is a "Chef", it is (or was during the 80's and 90's) taken for granted to address the chef as "Mr. So-and-So" when speaking directly to him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's entirely possible for a dedicated foodie to know more about things food related than a random chef. While a foodie is traveling around visiting culinary destinations, reading books, researching online and browsing eGullet trying to keep on top of everything food, chef might go to his/her restaurant and do what he/she does for 15 hours a day the same way he/she has been doing it for 20 years with no concern at all for what anybody else is doing. Doesn't mean he/she is a "fake" chef. Doesn't mean that a foodie with more knowledge is more a chef than he/she is. There are no things "only chefs know". Well, there is the first rule of chef club... but that's secret so I can't post it. :raz: But I will agree that "Don't you ever cook anything normal" is a pretty rude thing to say.

I suspect those foodies on eGullet who have read the MC probably know more about food and cooking than 95% of the Chefs out there. Just today I tried to buy some self sealing tape to use on my Sous Vide bags and the two largest restaurant supply companies in San Jose California did not carry any Sous Vide equipment period. This means almost no restaurants in the area seem to be at all close to the state of the art.

Im sorry, but statements like this really piss me off. Im not trying to be an ass or anything, but just because you (or anyone) read a book doesn't make you a "chef." I agree that the term has lost damn near everything it used to mean in the past, we still bust our ass for years to earn that title and respect. You read MC, have a circulator and plate dinner with tweezers just means you have an expensive hobby.

And just for future reference, just because the local restaurant supply stores don't carry sous vide equipment, doesn't mean people aren't "that state of the art." Most of use use J.B. Prince or Le Sanctuaire or other specialty online retailers.

Again, no offense. But when someone makes ridiculous statements that undermine what I do, I feel the need to say something.

- (real) Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect those foodies on eGullet who have read the MC probably know more about food and cooking than 95% of the Chefs out there....

Im sorry, but statements like this really piss me off. Im not trying to be an ass or anything, but just because you (or anyone) read a book doesn't make you a "chef."

I think that's the whole point. Of course I'm not a chef: I have a tremendous amount of culinary knowledge that I've gained because I am reading the internet while the real chefs are cooking. This means that it's basically impossible to come up with some kind of "knowledge test" that a "real chef" will pass and that us fake chefs would fail (which was the original poster's goal I think). In fact, the fake chef is probably going to do better at that sort of test than a real chef would! You want a test to separate a real chef from a fake one? Put them both in charge of a kitchen during a Friday night dinner rush. You'll find out pretty quick.

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suspect those foodies on eGullet who have read the MC probably know more about food and cooking than 95% of the Chefs out there....

Im sorry, but statements like this really piss me off. Im not trying to be an ass or anything, but just because you (or anyone) read a book doesn't make you a "chef."

I think that's the whole point. Of course I'm not a chef: I have a tremendous amount of culinary knowledge that I've gained because I am reading the internet while the real chefs are cooking. This means that it's basically impossible to come up with some kind of "knowledge test" that a "real chef" will pass and that us fake chefs would fail (which was the original poster's goal I think). In fact, the fake chef is probably going to do better at that sort of test than a real chef would! You want a test to separate a real chef from a fake one? Put them both in charge of a kitchen during a Friday night dinner rush. You'll find out pretty quick.

I wholeheartedly agree with that test. I think people are forgetting that being a chef is MUCH more than just food knowledge. Someone may be better at measuring hydrocolloids, but Im damn sure I can cook circles around almost anyone. But, this is what my industry has come to, thanks to lots of factors. I sure as hell didn't bust my ass in Michelin kitchens for barely any money for 12 years just to have a "foodie" say that they're a chef or are better cooks than "95% of the Chefs out there."

[edit]

On a separate note, holy aerospace engineer batman!! o.O

Edited by ChefJohnny (log)

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sure, but to be clear, what sculptor said was "[foodies] know more about food and cooking than 95% of the Chefs out there...." which I don't take to mean they those foodies are "real chefs", or are better cooks. Quite the opposite in fact: while us internet foodies are off acquiring knowledge, the real chefs out there are out acquiring skills. Very different things! But it means that no knowledge test is ever going to out GlorifiedRice's nemesis as a "fake chef": fake chefs are pretty good at knowledge tests. It's the skills test they can't pass.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Technically, he said "those foodies who read the MC know more about food and cooking than 95% of Chefs out there." Thats where I take the offense. Its trivial, but Ive got to draw the line at someone saying that reading a book, that they know more than 95% of chefs, which includes myself Id assume. I know they don't have the skill, but I feel the need to make the point to say, well, that its complete bullshit. Again, call it trivial or semantics. But its the principle of the thing. Book smart vs. street smart.

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a food-obsessed eG denizen: I like to argue :smile:. I'd still love to know if there is anything anyone can come up with that meets GlorifiedRice's original request:

"Are there any questions we can pose to him to prove he's a REAL CHEF?

like things only CHEFS know?"

I just don't think there is anything: the thing that separates a real chef from a wannabe is skills, not knowledge.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You read MC, have a circulator and plate dinner with tweezers just means you have an expensive hobby.

- (real) Chef Johnny

I love that statement. :)

I consider myself a cook, and a damn fine one ,and when people call me a chef I get irritated . A chef is a professional in charge of professional kitchen. Throwing the word chef around for anyone that so much as flips a burger gets on my nerves.

I will say watching the show "Chopped" that I have better knife skills than the majority of the "Chefs " that compete. I am in awe of some of the competitors on Top chef and Iron Chef though. My wife laughs at me when I get excited and start talking about the knives and techniques they are using . lol

"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just don't think there is anything: the thing that separates a real chef from a wannabe is skills, not knowledge.

And therein lies the problem of attempting to figure out if the obnoxious guy on the internet forum is a "real chef" or a wannabe. The only way you stand a good chance of finding out is if he slips and lets it known the name of his "bistro". Which it sounds like he is avoiding. Which I find interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm a food-obsessed eG denizen: I like to argue :smile:. I'd still love to know if there is anything anyone can come up with that meets GlorifiedRice's original request:

"Are there any questions we can pose to him to prove he's a REAL CHEF?

like things only CHEFS know?"

I just don't think there is anything: the thing that separates a real chef from a wannabe is skills, not knowledge.

Perhaps a question related to logistics - or ordering of supplies?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...