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Cooks versus Chefs

Are you a cook or are you a chef? And for that matter, what's the difference?

In my mind, a chef is formally trained, probably with a degree from some cooking school. However, in a restaurant, there are cooks and chefs, and cooks can eventually become chefs, and even most cooks go to some kind of school. So? I've never worked in a restaurant, but I have had some formal training - French cuisine and competition barbecue. But I'd never consider myself to be anything more than a cook. In fact, when someone calls me a chef, I correct them and insist I'm just the guy cooking the meal.

It could be that the line of demarcation is presentation - tiny chunks of meat, squiggles of sauce, sprouts placed with forceps, all on a gigantic plate. Hey, I can probably cook a piece of meat just as well, or at least just as edible, as any formally trained chef. But I don't have the skill set to make it look fancy on the plate. I'd be lost trying to cook some weird vegetable that would pair perfectly with it. And I couldn't possibly recommend the correct sauce. But I guarantee you'd swoon when you ate it and there'd be more than enough to fill your belly, even if you were eating off a paper plate with your fingers.

Having cooked for more than sixty years for myself and my family and friends, I've never had a serious complaint about what I served. But when the dictionary is opened, I'll still just be a cook. I've looked at photos by several folks here, and they really have the presentation thing figured out. I'd call them chefs. You?

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