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Nov 7, 2006 03:51 PM

Top Chef---What is a "Master Cook"

So being that I have a bad cold, I finally caught up and watched all 3 episodes on Tivo last night. I noticed several of the contestants had the title "master cook" after their names....I have never seen that title before, what does it mean?

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  1. hi,
    I think that it is a designation used in hotel kitchens. The two contestants seem to be from the same hotel in vegas (MGM Grand) I would assume that it is a title used by HR and the union. Not yet a commis chef, but past the apprentice stage.


    3 Replies
    1. re: gutterman

      Yeah, those huge hotels have so many employees that the org chart's a lot more complicated than the usual independent restaurant.

      Looks like "master cook" is a mid-level line cook, one step down from "senior cook":

      "The Master Cook performs advanced cooking procedures under the direct supervision of the Chef, Executive Sous Chef and/or Sous Chef and operates a specific station with others or independently to enable senior cooks to perform more rigorous or technically demanding operations."

        1. re: sugarbuzz

          thanks, you gotta love fancy titles

    2. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) does a Certified Master Chef exam that costs thousands and lasts almost two weeks. It is described in Michael Ruhlman's excellent "Soul of a Chef" book. I can't believe that any of these turkeys on Top Chef have passed or even taken this challenge.

      5 Replies
      1. re: nosh

        None of them claim to in their bios.

        1. re: nosh

          First of all I'm not defending any of these guys but the title was "Master Cook" not "Master Chef" and secondly just because one takes some test at a prestigious school doesn't really mean a whole lot in my book. In my humble opinion, yes, just my opinion going to a school does not make one a chef-cooking ability is in large part a natural ability and although it can be learned I think the best chefs have natural ability and intuition.

          1. re: nosh

            None is close to ready to take THAT exam. They'd make mincemeat of even Hung, as good skills as he has!

            Guys work and sweat over this exam for literally years, and many still never pass it. "Tough" does not begin to describe it.

            1. re: ChefJune

              And what does passing this test do for one's career? For me it is much more pleasurable getting daily compliments on the food I make for others whether they are friends or customers.Passing some expensive test at an overpriced institute that some food snob has created pales in comparison. Just my opinion though-I'm really not all that impressed w/the CIA or celebrity chefs as a whole.

              1. re: Dibbs

                Honestly, the CIA puts out some of the best chefs in the united states. You may not like the certification, but if you can't do the basics extremely well (which all of their graduates can do) then you can't be a top quality chef.

          2. I only took a gander at this show once. It was almost instantaneously apparent that virtually none of these gum chewing, hair flying, clumsy pups was anything close to being a chef.
            Niki has a bitter side.

            5 Replies
            1. re: niki rothman

              Some of them, Ilan in particular, have demonstrated serious skills. That's what makes the show watchable.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                I even surprised myself at the level of vehemence "Top Chef" illicited in me. I am usually completely happy to sit in rapt attention for almost anything on the Food Network. "Flip THAT sausage now! NO, not THAT one! The other one!...No, don't put any cilantro in that...No, you're WRONG!" I get so involved. But "Top Chef" so many of you genuine chowhounds seem to love it. There MUST be something that I am missing. Admit it, you love to hate them, that must be it.

                1. re: niki rothman

                  I find the competitive cooking scenes entertaining, and fast-forward through the rest.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    OK, now it all makes sense. Tivo or a DVD recorder. It is time we got a recorder.

              2. re: niki rothman

                My MIL said the same thing Niki....and she is almost 80. She never misses the show though...and she was into the runway show as well.

              3. it's common, here in Brazil, to hear the term "Mestre Cuca"; which is the person responsible for the kitchen. The Chef, I guess. I always thought it was a term that comes from English, . Like the master in the kitchen. And that it was used in the English speaking countries. I see now that it is not true.. By the way, the word Mestre is the Portuguese for Master and "cuca" doesn't even exist in Portuguese language.