If I see one more food website (read All-Recipes, Recipezaar, and yes, the Food Network) call the janitor/secretary/insurance salesman from the suburbs a Chef I’m going to blow a major freakin’ gasket.
Granted there are some pretty talented home cooks out there but one doesn’t get the title Chef until one’s ass has been thrown around a professional kitchen on a busy night, multiple times, with the temperature at 100 degrees plus, fifteen tickets in the window all due within minutes of each other, and lives to cook again.
Restaurants are tremendously difficult places to work in. That goes for FOH as well as BOH. Sure, there’s an incredible adrenaline rush when things go right. But there are dozens of things that can go wrong every day. In restaurants self-preservation is called mise en place. If you have a passing knowledge of this term you get points but nothing else. If you don’t, calling yourself a Chef is sacrilegious. Being organized and ready is the only thing that’s going to save your ass and everyone elses around you when it gets busy.
Chefs are there, body, mind, and spirit.
I’m sorry dearies, the term “Chef” is one of respect in the professional restaurant world. Chef is a title one earns. You don’t get it out of a box…it isn’t semi-home made. (And what the hell is semi-home made anyway!)
So when the previously mentioned suburbanite “Chef” learns how to cook any dish from memory, manage food cost, manage labor cost, build a staff of dedicated cooks, bakers, and dishwashers, order case loads of food, work 12 to 14 hour shifts days on end, and earn a profit for the enterprise, then they can be called a Chef. Oh, one more thing. You have to figure out how to make a family life outside the restaurant as well.
If you can’t handle any of the above, no toque…no title. It’s that simple.