Meaning of the term, title and status of a “CHEF”

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I wonder how many commercial chefs realize or care that their legitimate job title has been hijacked?

The title “chef” means very little now compared to the community perception of a decade ago.

Nowadays if a person can read a recipe and produce any sort of a meal they are considered a CHEF.

Numerous TV programs have contributed by diluting the real meaning of the term, title and status of a “CHEF”. Today it seems anyone can be titled a chef or even, god forbid, a “masterchef”!

This is a serious issue that needs to be debated by professional commercial chefs.

I am concerned that the general public perception of this title — once used to portray a trained craftsperson capable of preparing healthy, nutritious, commercially viable, quality food in large quantities — has now deteriorated to the extent that it can be symbolized by the image of a pretender who wears no head-covering, a T-shirt and a striped butcher’s apron.

Even the term “chef de cuisine” is now understood by only a few in the industry. How many chefs identify themselves as an “Executive Chef”, in many cases not knowing what the title really means (that is, to administer multiple fulltime kitchens)?

There are chefs who pretentiously delight in being an “executive sous chef” while being responsible for two cooks, two apprentices and one kitchen attendant in a small kitchen — where careless opening of the kitchen front door can break the window at the back of the kitchen! And what about the “junior sous chefs” who have not yet completed their training?

This adulteration of the terminology started when cooks believed that using the title “chef“ was a self-promotion and increased their status within the community. Employers are just as guilty by advertising ambiguous, more impressive job titles as an alternative to a ‘true’ promotion and as a substitute for salary increases.

The term “cook” accurately summarizes in a single word the real value of the person’s role in the kitchen and the commercial cookery industry, while the term “chef” accurately describes the chief administrator of all the cooks in the kitchen! It is French for “chief”, after all!

The industry has replaced the priceless cook with a myriad of chefs who cannot cook for a living.

PS The original butcher’s striped apron was used to conceal stains from blood while appearing to be hygienic – while the chef’s white apron was worn to show how clean and hygienic the person is while preparing food.

How clean do you and your staff look?

To add your own opinion to this article, please join the Salonculinaire.com group at LinkedIn where you can place your comments

George Hill 08:23, 26 September 2011 (EST)

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