Have you also mistaken a chef for a cook? Many people do. These terms are often used interchangeably to describe someone who works in the kitchen. And this doesn't matter if that person is masterminding the whole menu or cutting some veggies.
If you work in the culinary department, you would understand that a cook is quite different from a chef. Note that no single professional body classified exactly who a cook is as well as who a chef is. Many agreed that the difference is within the experience and education involved. So what distinguishes these two kitchen professionals?
Who is a Chef?
A chef is a trained cook with experience who has worked within a professional kitchen setting. This person often assumes several managerial roles - be it leading a team of cooks or single-handedly running a department. When it comes to the degree of responsibility, a chef has it more than a cook. The professional needs to be a culinary expert and also a good leader. The ability to solve problems is a must for chefs, especially when under pressure. A chef is trained to be able to assess a circumstance and proffer a solution as fast as possible.
The bulk of a chef's job is supervision and management. He or she is responsible for the entire crew instead of doing the cooking. A chef can get into any situation when needed and offer mentorship or support to other members. Also, a chef influences the reputation of a restaurant. He or she can help in creating menus and recipes. Chefs have more responsibilities than cooks. And when a kitchen performs well, they get more credit for it.
Who is a Cook?
On the other hand, cooks are referred to as skilled technicians who prepare food. In most cases, the work of a cook is hands-on, working ingredients from their entire states to cooked dishes. However, cooks are grouped into different types. And all of them have different responsibilities.
For instance, a prep cook is responsible for all kinds of supporting work - such as making sauces or dressings, chopping vegetables, and pre-portioning cuts of fish/meats. Line cooks are responsible for the cooking, plating, as well as finishing of dishes for service.
Furthermore, cooks are sometimes categorized according to their stations. For example, a fry cook handles the fryer for a consistent supply of fresh and hot french fries, plus other nice snacks. Again, a grill cook will be in charge of items that are grilled - such as chicken, burgers, some vegetables, and steaks.
The Key Difference Between a Cook and a Chef
As deduced from the definitions above, the key difference between a cook and a chef still revolves around the level of responsibility involved.
For instance, while a chef may create a recipe, a cook is responsible to finish up every task given to him or her. However, a cook only needs the basic skills required to carry out the menu. Other advanced skills may be needed when multipart and complex recipes are involved.
On the other hand, a chef is the manager of cooks. He or she is solely responsible for the type of foods that come from the kitchen. The top leader of the kitchen is referred to as the executive chef. The executive chef has control over menus as well as absolute direction about the culinary program of a restaurant.
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