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.

"Chef" -- Who is? Who ain't?


Stone
 Share

Recommended Posts

So I graduated from University with a degree in Literature. I am not a writer. I did not go to cooking school; rather I kicked around North America and Europe working for Relais aux Chateau.

I guess my answer goes back to the basics. There are Chefs and there are kitchen managers and all types of combinations of the two. One entertains and the other feeds.

A tangent to this topic would be why did we choose to be Chefs and what drives us to work the hours and put so much passion into what we do. Is a copy-write lawyer as passionate about his job?

Chef/Owner/Teacher

Website: Chef Fowke dot com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't see that Rothman post...He can't believe just cause you graduate from culinary school you're a chef.  Tell me he's trying to be funny.   Jesus, what a dumb statement.

Dead serious, buddy. You know it is possible to have bad chefs. I never said that going to culinary school made anyone a good chef. Bottom line is that it's a professional school just like the other ones mentioned; go to a professional school, graduate, earn the right to be known as a professional in said field of study. Doesn't necessarily mean the person is good at what he/she does, just means they have the right to be known by the title.

-Eric

* pogophiles point about needing to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer is a valid criticism of my argument, however there are numerous other professional school which don't require further examinations/courses of study after graduation.

Edited by EJRothman (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is a copy-write lawyer as passionate about his job?

Some are. When it's good it's great. When it's bad, it sucks. Like most jobs. (not that I do copyright law.) And pogo's not completely correct. You don't pass the bar to become a lawyer. You pass the bar to become licensed to practice law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn't see that Rothman post...He can't believe just cause you graduate from culinary school you're a chef.  Tell me he's trying to be funny.   Jesus, what a dumb statement.

Dead serious, buddy. You know it is possible to have bad chefs. I never said that going to culinary school made anyone a good chef. Bottom line is that it's a professional school just like the other ones mentioned; go to a professional school, graduate, earn the right to be known as a professional in said field of study. Doesn't necessarily mean the person is good at what he/she does, just means they have the right to be known by the title.

-Eric

* pogophiles point about needing to pass the bar exam to become a lawyer is a valid criticism of my argument, however there are numerous other professional school which don't require further examinations/courses of study after graduation.

I'm not diginifying this with a response.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not diginifying this with a response.

That's simply because - and I've seen this on many other threads - you take a way to romantic approach to your profession. I am happy for you that you love your job, most people can't say the same. But you seem to think your profession answers to a higher authority, when, in realilty it is not on a different plane than any other profession.

I love cooking, and I love eating. I know the joy of preparing a meal and eating at a good restaurant. The world, of course, would be worse off if chefs, and good chefs at that, did not exist. However, the same can be said for lawyers (go ahead scoff), doctors, and air conditioner repairmen (to name a few).

-Eric

*Thank you to Stone for highlighting the lawyer/practicing law dichotomy.

Edited by EJRothman (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No dude, I realize where I fit into the food chain.  On the list of important professions I'd say chef ranks about 10006.  No, I'm not going there with you because that was an ignorant statement.

Clearly we are on two different wave lengths somewhere on this issue. I can't pretend to know what you think about the subject of food and the industry. I can only go by what you have posted, both here and in other threads/forums.

When it all boils down, I think that a chef is a profession like the many others out there. Sure, there are some chefs - many of them great - who have worked their way through the ranks, but that doesn't preclude culinary school grads from being called chefs - good, bad or otherwise. You disagree. You're wrong, but that's just my opinion.

I do appreciate being called ignorant though, thank you :hmmm: .

-Eric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Boys, boys. Here, have some nice mandu (fried dumplings) and kimchi.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No dude, I realize where I fit into the food chain.  On the list of important professions I'd say chef ranks about 10006.  No, I'm not going there with you because that was an ignorant statement.

Clearly we are on two different wave lengths somewhere on this issue. I can't pretend to know what you think about the subject of food and the industry. I can only go by what you have posted, both here and in other threads/forums.

When it all boils down, I think that a chef is a profession like the many others out there. Sure, there are some chefs - many of them great - who have worked their way through the ranks, but that doesn't preclude culinary school grads from being called chefs - good, bad or otherwise. You disagree. You're wrong, but that's just my opinion.

I do appreciate being called ignorant though, thank you :hmmm: .

-Eric

Just because a chef is famous, doesnt make him great. Just because a chef is great doesnt make him famous either.

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're welcome...but let's digress from this baiting shit...

If you graduate from culinary school there's no official recognition in the industry that would automatically deem you a chef. They don't dust Andre Soltner off to award honorary chef titles to graduates. No one says, Congratulations, now you're a chef. Please prove me wrong.

Following your logic--using my twisted mind to decipher--theoretically, you could graduate from culinary school and sport the title Grand Pubah of the Cayman Islands. You could call the graduates anything, but since they're in the culinary profession you thinks it's only appropriate to call them chefs. Well, you know what I call a culinary school graduate who comes in for a job--the grill guy. Then if he proves he has leadership ability I put him into a sous-chef training program. Then, upon finishing his training, proving to me, the EXECUTIVE CHEF, that he can wage my wars, run my kitchen, put his schooling to practical use in a real life setting while gaining the respect of the staff he will eventually command I give him a phat raise, and buy him some cotton chef coats with the title Sous Chef on them. That's how you get the title in a nut shell. You've got to put practical on the job experience and the schooling together. But really, I don't give a shit if you've even set foot in a culinary school. I'll call you chef if I think it's appropriate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spencer, that's generally how it goes.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When it all boils down, I think that a chef is a profession like the many others out there.  Sure, there are some chefs - many of them great - who have worked their way through the ranks,

Some?

but that doesn't preclude culinary school grads from being called chefs - good, bad or otherwise. 

The world is always changing and we may be on the cusp of having more chefs who started in culiary school than as apprentices, but I am an older school diner. In NYC, when a chefs, considerably younger than I am, open a restaurant, their press releases have, more often than not, stressed in which kitchens they've worked, and not where they've gone to school or if they've gone to cooking school.

Surely you're not saying that a diploma from a culinary school entitles one to be called a chef? The only people who call a cooking school grad "chef" on the day he graduates are his friends and relatives. If he's got a PhD in culinary arts however, he's entitled to be called "doctor."

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're welcome...but let's digress from this baiting shit...

If you graduate from culinary school there's no official recognition in the industry that would automatically deem you a chef.  They don't dust Andre Soltner off  to award honorary chef titles to graduates.  No one says, Congratulations, now you're a chef.  Please prove me wrong.

Following your logic--using my twisted mind to decipher--theoretically, you could graduate from culinary school and sport the title Grand Pubah of the Cayman Islands.  You could call the graduates anything, but since they're in the culinary profession you thinks it's only appropriate to call them chefs.  Well, you know what I call a culinary school graduate who comes in for a job--the grill guy.  Then if he proves he has leadership ability I put him into a sous-chef training program.  Then, upon finishing his training, proving to me, the EXECUTIVE CHEF, that he can wage my wars, run my kitchen, put his schooling to practical use in a real life setting while gaining the respect of the staff he will eventually command I give him a phat raise, and buy him some cotton chef coats with the title Sous Chef on them.  That's how you get the title in a nut shell.  You've got to put practical on the job experience and the schooling together.  But really, I don't give a shit if you've even set foot in a culinary school.  I'll call you chef if I think it's appropriate.

Chef, sous chef, commis. Are we french? No.

In my kitchen we are food engineers, messengers/fabricators of the natural edible world around us. The members of a forward thinking cult of excellence.

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

Chef is a lonely term. I guide a team. Without that team, I am nothing. They encompass the think tank, I guide it. I will never be a chef.

Edited by inventolux (log)

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surely you're not saying that a diploma from a culinary school entitles one to be called a chef? The only people who call a cooking school grad "chef" on the day he graduates are his friends and relatives. If he's got a PhD in culinary arts however, he's entitled to be called "doctor."

Oh but Bux, my joyously combative friend, that IS what he's saying. And he's defending his position like he stuck in a foxhole. What he doesn't realize is that his own gun is going to be his undoing. Let's allow him to commit verbal suicide. It's an interesting look into the mind of denial.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Surely you're not saying that a diploma from a culinary school entitles one to be called a chef? The only people who call a cooking school grad "chef" on the day he graduates are his friends and relatives. If he's got a PhD in culinary arts however, he's entitled to be called "doctor."

Oh but Bux, my joyously combative friend, that IS what he's saying. And he's defending his position like he stuck in a foxhole. What he doesn't realize is that his own gun is going to be his undoing. Let's allow him to commit verbal suicide. It's an interesting look into the mind of denial.

he he he. :laugh:

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

No, they're con-men (and women) fooling idiots into thinking it's trendy to drop big change on a salad. Oooh, nothing's been heated over 120 degrees . . . .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Spencer and Inventolux are engaged in the age-old debate between formalism and liberalism (small L). A formalist finds a rule that sounds easy, precise and complete. You graduated from law school, you're a lawyer. You graduated from dental school, you're a dentist. You graduated from chef school, you're a chef. It's logical, and frankly, it sounds correct. You may not be a good chef, or a practicing chef, but you're a chef. Spencer is looking at it more ethereally. Kind of "I know it when I see it" approach. No bright lines, no easy answers. Everyone will agree in the middle and disagree at the fringes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess this depends on your perspective. To people in the industry, the title seems to be an emotive one, earned through hard work, knowledge and experience. To me, an 'outsider', it is quite simple- I will call a cook a chef if I think he/she deserves it. There is after all no objective criterium. I ate at a local eatery the other night - my meal was prepared by someone who, according to CW/Spencer's criteria, deserves to be called a chef. The food qualified him merely as a cook, and in my book, that is what he is. If you prefer to imbue the term with almost mystical properties, bully to you. I prefer not to. So, in your world, you define whom you wish to call a chef. In my world, and in the absence of objective criteria, I will decide whom I wish to call a chef. Or a cook. Or a grill guy. Or a fool.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

No, they're con-men (and women) fooling idiots into thinking it's trendy to drop big change on a salad. Oooh, nothing's been heated over 120 degrees . . . .

Not an opinion based on factual information. "raw" means not heated over 108 degrees. Some food fabrication leaders say 120 so they can use fermented products. But its just not raw. A con man gives you nothing for your money. That statement is coming from non fact based material. But everyones entitled to their opinion no matter how warped it may appear. Is the guy with the cheapest salad on the block the real mccoy? Or is serving the cheapest salad just that, serving cheap absurdity on a plate?

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

No, they're con-men (and women) fooling idiots into thinking it's trendy to drop big change on a salad. Oooh, nothing's been heated over 120 degrees . . . .

Not an opinion based on factual information. "raw" means not heated over 108 degrees. Some food fabrication leaders say 120 so they can use fermented products. But its just not raw. A con man gives you nothing for your money. That statement is coming from non fact based material. But everyones entitled to their opinion no matter how warped it may appear. Is the guy with the cheapest salad on the block the real mccoy? Or is serving the cheapest salad just that, serving cheap absurdity on a plate?

Well, perhaps this belongs on another thread, but . . . To me, if, in fact, these folks are calling themselves "raw food technicians", it suggest that they're trying to use a fancy sounding name to cover up the fact that they're really just making salad. Just like the guy at Starbucks who calls himself a "register associate" (yes, that's true). But you are right, I'm just spouting off from ignorance -- I've never been to any of the raw food places. Although someone who's palate I admire went to Roxannes (in Marin) recently, and her reaction was, "it's not bad, but why all that money for a gimmick? It's not really cooking."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

No, they're con-men (and women) fooling idiots into thinking it's trendy to drop big change on a salad. Oooh, nothing's been heated over 120 degrees . . . .

Not an opinion based on factual information. "raw" means not heated over 108 degrees. Some food fabrication leaders say 120 so they can use fermented products. But its just not raw. A con man gives you nothing for your money. That statement is coming from non fact based material. But everyones entitled to their opinion no matter how warped it may appear. Is the guy with the cheapest salad on the block the real mccoy? Or is serving the cheapest salad just that, serving cheap absurdity on a plate?

Well, perhaps this belongs on another thread, but . . . To me, if, in fact, these folks are calling themselves "raw food technicians", it suggest that they're trying to use a fancy sounding name to cover up the fact that they're really just making salad. Just like the guy at Starbucks who calls himself a "register associate" (yes, that's true). But you are right, I'm just spouting off from ignorance -- I've never been to any of the raw food places. Although someone who's palate I admire went to Roxannes (in Marin) recently, and her reaction was, "it's not bad, but why all that money for a gimmick? It's not really cooking."

At what point did winemaking go from artistry to science? Whenever it changed, it changed for the better. The kitchen needs that change.

Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps we need to think analogically . . .

If I call myself a muff magnet, does that make me a muff magnet?

Further, would I want a regulated profession that would determine whether or not I could legitimately refer to myself as a muff magnet?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The previous posts relating to lawyers and doctors miss the point. You are entitled to call yourself a lawyer when you pass a professional exam prescribed by law. Ditto a doctor. I.e. the title is one for which very specific criteria are prescribed by law. It follows that the title of chef, having no such criteria, must of necessity be a subjective award.

Gerhard Groenewald

www.mesamis.co.za

Wilderness

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chef, sous chef, commis. Are we french? No.

In my kitchen we are food engineers, messengers/fabricators of the natural edible world around us. The members of a forward thinking cult of excellence.

Are "chefs" still cooks if they are raw food technicians?(perhaps a new thread here)

Chef is a lonely term. I guide a team. Without that team, I am nothing. They encompass the think tank, I guide it. I will never be a chef.

Interesting points all worthy of discussion.

This is an international board, most of us are not French. However many professions have a language all their own. For music, it seems to be Italian. Maybe latin for medicine and some sciences. For cooking, or what we often call "cuisine" in western societies, the lingua franca has been French. Food in English is often French. Note that when we eat a cow or steer, we call it beef. When we eat a pig, we call it pork. Likewise we use terms such as pullet and capon when referring to poultry.

I suppose a cook is someone who cooks, just as a chef is someone who does the work of a chief or leader. Is one a cook if he's making raw salad? Perhaps that's why the French use the term "cuisinier" -- cuisine is both the kitchen and the cooking. If it comes from the kitchen raw or cooked, it's made by a "cuisinier."

If you're a guide and others follow your lead, you're a chief. If they don't follow your lead, your kitchen is in trouble or your not guiding. The rest, it appears to me is a matter of semantics. Discussions about semantics are just that and not discussions about food.

Insistence on using English or American terms where French terms have prevailed may be seen as revolutionary, evolutionary, or obfuscation of the issues involved. A perfectly good argument that what you make in the kitchen shouldn't be served in a "restaurant" if you insist on not calling yourself a "chef" because you're not French.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...