What’s the difference between a chef vs cook? Are they the same thing? To most people, they will probably reply in the affirmative. In fact, many use these terms interchangeably. But if you’re going to ask those in the restaurant and culinary industry, they will tell you that there’s a huge difference between being a chef and being a cook. So what makes a “chef” a chef, and a “cook” a cook?
What is a Chef?
Anyone who knows how to prepare a decent meal can call themselves a cook, but not anyone who can cook can refer to themselves as a chef. The word “chef” comes from the French “chef de cuisine,” which means the head of a kitchen. This basically means that anyone who is the head of the kitchen, no matter how big or small the restaurant or establishment is, is the chef.
Being head of the kitchen, the chef often has a supervisory role and is usually in charge of creating and implementing menus. They can oversee kitchen workers, order food supplies, and gauge food requirements. It is also part of their duty to maintain the quality of various dishes. Depending on the work environment and the kind of support team a chef has, they may also be expected to create recipes and prepare meals, hire staff, balance the books, and cater events.
To become a chef, there are certain requirements you must be able to fulfill. For starters, you must have a two or four-year degree in the culinary arts. In the absence of a culinary degree, you must have obtained extensive experience or training under a chef that is equal to that of a degree. This is known as a culinary apprenticeship.
What is a Cook?
If your domain is simply the kitchen at home, or you are just at the bottom of the restaurant hierarchy, then you are considered a cook. Like taking the road to becoming a chef, you can take specialized lessons to become a cook.
A typical day of a cook consists of preparing food and performing kitchen duties as needed and directed. They are almost always required to use recipes and follow the chef’s or someone else’s menu plan.
In most cases, the cook is behind the chef when it comes to prestige, salary, and career advancement. However, there are certain instances where this isn’t applicable. In fact, these days, there are many home and amateur cooks that possess skills and experience that are better and more extensive than other chefs.
If you want to be a chef in the future, being a cook can provide you with the stepping stone you need to climb the culinary ladder. It can help you develop a solid foundation on which you can build your career and teach you the skills you need to be great at what you do. You just need to be patient, and you must continue to learn to rise above the rest.
A cook and a chef can both be a members of a household staff who prepare meals and manage the kitchens. A chef, if employed in a large household, may manage other kitchen staff. While a home cook could take on additional tasks such as assisting with childcare or personal assisting. Both offer great opportunities to make a good salary and enjoy a set schedule, a couple of the benefits usually not offered in a traditional restaurant or hotel kitchen.