Friday, September 17, 2010

The Food Will Call You Chef

Today I was asked a very interesting question from a fellow student at school. The question was, "At what point do you consider yourself a Chef?"  If you are a frequent reader of this blog you would know the answer to that very quickly.  But I knew this person wasn't ready for the ego humbling answer I had, so I sat and pondered this thoughtfully.  Yeah I know, this occurs about a handful of times a year, but I admired the person for asking so I thought I would be a little less crass than normal.

Now the technical answer to this question is a simple one on paper.  At my school, the Midwest Culinary Institute, you achieve your CC or, Certified Chef, once you have satisfied your credit hours at school and then you complete a final competencies test and if you pass your a Chef.  But as I thought about it further I realized he had to know this, its common knowledge at school.  So I think he may be wanting the sarcastic, ego humbling answer I had.  I love when I can give my answer, it feels so good, like wrapping myself in bacon while someone drizzles honey on me... oh no back to the answer.

Before I give you my answer I think we should set the landscape of what I see on a daily basis at school.  I see are lot of culinary students strutting around in their chef uniform and thinking they are going to be the next Bobby Flay or Paula Dean.  Now of course I am not here to dash any ones dreams away and let me be the first to say I wish I had me some Flay of Mrs. Paula money.  But this answer shouldn't be about money, because being in the Culinary business doesn't add up to a lot of coin.  I also see a lot of ego at school, with the advent of every cable channel having a cooking reality show it seems this has inflated a lot egos at school.  So we have some starry eyed students with egos that require their own personal assistant.  Normally the ones who steal my Mise en Place in cooking lab are the ones who think they are a hot shot, well son your not.

My answer, I don't think you ever achieve the level of Chef.  I will always consider myself a cook.  A cook is someone who makes food for people with love.  If others think I deserve to be called Chef then they can call me Chef, otherwise I hope they enjoy the food I cook.  If you are going to Culinary School for a title then you will be facing some harsh realities in the kitchen.  There are a lot of awesome cooks who get called Chef everyday who have never set foot into a Culinary School nor would they want to honestly.  They learned cooking by burning themselves a thousand times and watching others cook amazing food.  Being a Chef is not about ego, its not about titles and a name on a chef jacket, its about humbling yourself enough to where the food speaks for itself.  Its not you, its the food that will call you chef.

1 comment:

Teeny S said...

Greetings... I wanted to THANK you for this truly great read, and have to agree with your conclusions about being a chef. You are absolutly correct when you say that it is now ego driven, but people forget the many hours of being burned and wearing scars prior to the status. Not to mention the many long hours, accepting "slave" work before greatness. We have started own own catering company and <a href="http//>our website</a>. If you have a moment, please check us out and leave your comment. Again, that is

Cheers ans All the Best!
Teeny S.
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