Depending on the school of thought, knowing the difference between a cook and a chef can be a bit cumbersome to many. Though there is usually a thin line between the two, it has often been used interchangeably to the point where the difference between the two has diminished and become blurred.
However, a chef is technically a professional who has trained and has a professional degree in food preparation. On the other hand, a cook is someone who prepares food but has no professional background and setting.
A cook can be household staff who usually prepares food and manages kitchen staff. Depending on the type of food you want, one can choose either to employ a chef or a cook.
In most cases, a chef is usually employed to manage other staff including cooks in a restaurant and big hotels to obtain the desired food. In modern households, the domestic staff is usually expected to have some background in food preparation and having some professional setting on the same will add you an added advantage.
Due to the professional nature of a chef and job description, when employed their job is mainly confined to cooking alone. In that regard, a chef is considered a technical title and has specialization just like other professions. Some chefs have explicitly trained to manage other staff and to be in charge of kitchen functioning. In that case, he or she is not expected to take part in cooking.
Categories of chefs and their descriptions:
- Chef de Cuisine –also known as an executive chef this is a person who has trained to be in charge of the proper functioning of the kitchen and manages all the staff by assigning them duties.
- Sous Chef –this is a chef who has trained specifically to cook and at times take part in micromanaging the staff. Both chef de cuisine and sous chef can take part in staff supervision.
- Chef de Partie- Chef de Partie is a profession who job description is to get down to bolts and take part in cooking in a specific station of the kitchen.
- Patissier or Pastry chef –Patissier chef is a professional who has skills in the baking industry and is responsible for baking duties in the kitchen.
Other chef professionals include saucier, poissonier, entremetier, rotiddeur and gard manger.
On the other hand, cooks can be classified into vegetable cooks, roast cooks, saute cooks among others. Roast cook usually is responsible for baking, grilling, and broiling.
General responsibilities of a cook:
- Gathering ingredients and storing them.
- Preparing, heating and arranging food.
- Working on customer orders using various recipes.
- Handling various appliances.
Duties of a chef:
- Hiring and training kitchen staff.
- Inspection of food and sanitation.
- Taking orders on supplies and food inventories.
- Addressing customer satisfaction.
In conclusion, the difference between a cook and a chef should never be misunderstood. In most cases, many hotels and restaurants employ pantry chefs and separate chefs to be in charge of butchering and poultry sector. Chef usually takes the lead and has final say in micromanaging the cooks. Although both can prepare food, there is usually a thin line between the two.