We now pause for a rant from our sponsor
Having trained as a chef, worked the line, and now managing restaurants I feel a certain amount of responsibility to the professional cooking world. The life of a professional anything in a restaurant is not easy. There are long hours, typically 10 to 14, six or seven days per week and seventy to eighty hour weeks are common. The pay is not glamorous or extravagant. There may be plenty of six figure Food TV hosts but there are precious few six-figure Chefs.
Restaurants are tremendously difficult places to work in. That goes for FOH as well as BOH. Family life is almost non-existent and if you have children you rarely see them off to bed If you are married it can be rocky. The suicide rate may be highest among dentists but I’ll bet the divorce rate of restaurant professionals is off the charts. It takes a special person to be married to a restaurant professional.
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. Being organized and ready is the only thing that’s going to save you and that of everyone else around you when the stuff hits the fan. And guess what, as Chef it’s your job to make sure everyone is on their game or crash and burn with them. It’s your name on the menu and the guest will pin the blame on you not your kitchen.
Chefs are there body, mind, spirit, and soul.
So when I see Food Network “Chef’s” chatting up the flat screens in search of ratings I get a little uppity. Most of them aren’t Chefs, have never been, and never will be.
When they know 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.
Now granted there are some pretty talented TV cooks out there. But until they have their backside thrown around a professional kitchen on a busy night, multiple nights, with the temperature at 100 degrees plus, fifteen tickets in the window all due within minutes of each other, the expo constantly asking when that mid-well is coming up, AND you live to cook again they are not Chefs. I don’t know what they are called but it’s definitely not Chef.
So I’m sorry, the term “Chef” is one of respect reserved for the professional restaurant world. Please don’t use it for yourself or anyone else unless it’s earned it because Chef is a title one definitely earns. You don’t get it out of a box and it isn’t semi-home made.