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This subject was raised a few months ago; the word chef is thrown around like a meaningless title. What is the definition of a CHEF? it is not a good cook; it refers to a commercial kitchen administrator, who leads a team, has financial responsibility, menu design/planning/ supervises procurment of ingredients, etc. There is no higher accolade than naming someone who can produce savory dishes on a consistent basis, a good cook!!

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  1. Without naming names, I saw a CH refer to him/herself as a "home chef" and I almost choked. What's wrong with saying "I'm a decent home cook" and then let people argue with me? :)

    1. The terminology "Chef" applies to one who's been the "Chief" of the kitchen, the most literal translation. If you've undertaken to do that, "Chef" applies even if you have no degree or accreditation. I call myself a cook, though I'm otherwise qualifed, because that is what I do. I don't "Chef." I make food, and that makes me a cook. Grubby and on the line, in charge of my own kitchen, it matters now. "Chef" is too easily translateable and too subjective a phrase, IMO.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mamachef

        I guess I am too much of a traditionalist. When Georges Auguste Escoffier codified the Modewrn Haute Cuisine, I think that is the last word!!!! Damn I am soooo rigid!!!!!

        1. Credential inflation runs rampant. Employees are now associates; mechanics are now automotive technicians, and I've even seen janitors described as environmental technicians.

          It's all a function of lowered expectations of achievement and a blossoming movement to make sure everybody sees themselves as little gods, regardless of how little they've accomplished. Defining achievement down and pumping self esteem up creates a great deal of absurdity. Calling anybody who can heat up a can of Campbell's soup (and not a cream soup, mind you) a chef is all part of the idiocy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Perilagu.......An Excellent explanation of "Credential Inflation", (I like the phrase). I didn't think of all the other areas this is happening. I guess it flows from the schools pumping the kids full of "You're Special You're a star and all the other feel good, P.C garbage.

            1. re: Perilagu Khan

              In my experience, credential inflation started in business/management decades ago and spread outward from there.

              Titles on resumes were often inflated to make the job seeker seem more important/qualified than they actually were. Also, management was pushing empowerment as a way to get better results without increasing compensation, and artificially fancy titles were (supposedly) a way to achieve that. The idea was that more important sounding titles made employees feel more in control, more integral and therefore more satisfied. Management research at the time indicated that employees who felt this way often were less concerned with receiving higher compensation, because the increased job satisfaction made up for part of it.

              Of course, since then, it's mutated into burger flippers being called chefs. But it didn't start that way. It was the business-speak movement that led us where we are now.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                When my son announced proudly that his first employer, Target, called all of its employees "associates", I knew he'd be treated like a peon and paid much the same way, and I was right.

              2. Pretension. Like calling a janitor a "building engineer."

                1. I have worked as a professional food writer for many many years and I also happen to be a good cook. But I would never call myself a chef under any circumstances. It's OTHER people who seem to feel compelled to call me that and it makes me very uncomfortable. Unless it's going to be really awkward, I always correct anyone who says I'm a chef but sometimes they just think I'm being modest. I think most people assume that once you are a good enough cook, you automatically become a chef. There's no way to fix it. TV has ruined the distinction.

                  1. As the OP points out, there was an extensive thread some months back, which makes me wonder why the OP bothers to raise the subject again. Certainly I've nothing new to add to what I said then.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Harters

                      Harter......Just the continued proliferation of this abuse of title. Actually, if you read the comments on this thread there are some very insightful thoughts that did not surface on the original thread.
                      Brigadier General, Neurosurgeon, President, Most Reverend, Honorable, Ospreycove, Phd.
                      oh.....and Chef.

                    2. I tend to think that "chef" falls into the same kind of category as 'preacher". Yes, there are schools for both, but there is no governing body that certifies who can use the title and who cant. [And there are certainly many self-proclaimed chefs and preachers who harm the titles more than enhance them by their use.]

                      It brings to mind a story I remember hearing about Al Jolson who after becoming famous, bought himself a yacht. He invited his mother aboard, put on his captain's hat and said,"Look Ma, I'm a captain!"

                      His mother replied, "Asa, to you, you are a captain. To me, you are a captain. But to a captain, you're no captain!"

                      1. Another meaningless food term such as "gourmet". Everyone's a chef. Your a chef. I"m a chef. Everyone's a chef, chef. I'm waiting for the real chefs to start an organization called: Chefs Against Fake Chefs.