Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Cook and Chef

chefThe terms cook and chef are used so often interchangeably that their demarcating line has become somewhat blurred. But technically speaking, a chef is someone who necessarily obtains a professional degree and prepares food in a professional setting. A cook, on the other hand, may not be professionally trained and may or may not be working in a professional setting.

A cook can be a member of a household staff who prepares food and manages the kitchen staff. Often, big households employ a cook-housekeeper. A chef, on the other hand, is likely to be heading a team of cooks in a restaurant or hotel. A cook is considered an inferior title than that of a chef. Domestic staff in modern households are generally expected to be good cooks also. They may do all kinds of other household duties apart from cooking for the members of the family they work for.

A chef, on the other hand, even if employed in a large household, normally would stick to cooking alone. A chef is also more of a technical title and is further listed according to specializations like in any other profession. Therefore, you can have a Chef de Cuisine who is in charge of the functioning of the kitchen and its functioning. He may or may not cook but simply manage the team in the kitchen. Sous Chef who is in charge specifically of the cooking and supervision of the staff. Both these titles define mainly supervision-related duties. Chef de Partie are the people who specifically get down to the nuts and bolts of cooking. Among cooks who work as junior staff in a hotel or restaurant kitchen, the classifications can be as follows: A Sauté cook takes care of all sautéed dishes and sauces and cooks fish if there is no specialist fish cook around. A Roast Cook is responsible for broiling, grilling and baking while a Vegetable cook, as the name suggests, takes care of soups and vegetable dishes.

Many restaurants and hotels also employ pastry chefs, pantry chefs and separate chefs for looking after poultry and butchering requirements.


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8 Comments

  1. Cooks follow the recipes, chefs pride themselves in cooking without a recipe.
    So you can be a qualified cook but not a qualified chef.

    • I disagree. I’m a semi-qualified cook and can cook most of what I do without a cookbook. I go by taste, textures, smells and just what looks good together. I’m a cook rather than a chef because, certainly in my current position, I don’t present nouveau cuisine, a la carte or even cordon bleu. I like the idea of the title chef but I don’t think it fitting for the basic cooking that is required of me in my place of work.

        • I’ve been working at a hotel and then the primary cooking person 4 a 80 room hotel in a very small kitchen I’ve been working for 10 years at this job my training has all been on the job training but yet I don’t develop any recipes I don’t create any dishes other than what the corporate chef has decided the menu is… so even though I have 10 years experience at cooking and can probably cook whatever I want I am not a chef I am a cook due to title where I work via training 10 years OJT is probably enough to equal a very small amount of professional training when it comes to schooling for cooking so outside of the hotel I could be considered a chef for the amount of technical training I’ve had

    • So you’re saying anyone who cooks without a recipe is a chef. That explains all the “home cooks” that show up on cooking shows and cook without recipes. They would then be chefs and not cooks.
      People who cook at home don’t always follow recipes but rather follow their instincts and knowledge of what they like. That would make them chefs.
      The only difference between a chef and a cook is the pay grade.

  2. I’ve been a cook for the last 20 years at small restaurants, road houses, and recently large well known Australian hotels. Even though I have a large amount of experience over such a long duration of time, there is NO way I can call myself a Chef or even to a level of a Chef. After spending time working at the hotels under the all levels of Chefs, I cannot truthfully say I encompass the same level of experience or knowledge. Even so, I am now happy to remain a Cook and continue to learn from the Chefs around me who all are aware of my significant experience and now specifically choose me to prepare dishes and many times we also bounce ideas of each other to ensure at the end of the day the kitchen produces the highest quality meals for the customers.
    Cheers to all those Chefs who pass on their experiences to make us Cooks the best we can be without us having the same level of training and.Experience! Thanks.

  3. A cook is one who can make great meals with known recipes.
    And a Chef is one who has undergone extensive training in food science, the art of food presentation and has the ability to break culinary rules and yet achieve an outstanding menu.
    Furthermore,a Chef can impart knowledge of culinary ideas with proficiency in language and can manage the kitchen, menu/pricing and the restaurant.. Montecristo, Lagos

  4. I have been a cook two years now in one of biggest restaurant in uae but am still a cook not a chef but when we are inside the kitchen everyone is the chef but the salary is different

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