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May 23, 2002 2:38 PM quote 
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 Professional Chef?
I have been working in the food industry for 20 years. I started out working in a donut shop and have worked my way up. I am currently working as a baker for a foodservice company. I bake all desserts from breakfast pastries to gormet desserts. Can I call myself a chef even though I don't have a degree in cooking? Just wondering as it seems to me some do this. Thanks.

May 23, 2002 5:13 PM quote 
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Dear Lisa:

Your right, some people do use the title of Chef without ever having attended a culinary school, however most of the ones that are taken seriously have validated theit ability in a wide variety of culinary experience and the related management responsibilities that come with the positions. This is not to say that there are not wonderful chefs out there that have done nothing but cook, but in most cases they are usually self employed or work for a private establishment and do not need the "sheep skin" to get their foot in the door.

I say solid experience is better than a degree anyday, but some employers do not agree - Only you can decide for yourself if you can "Walk the Walk" - Good Luck..H
May 23, 2002 5:27 PM quote 
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Hi Lisa,

Welcome to the forum. It's a lot of fun here.

You don't need a degree to call yourself chef. To find out if you can call yourself chef, ask yourself these questions:

Am I in charge of the kitchen?
Will I get blamed if anything and everything goes wrong?
Will I get the credit and kudos if everything goes right?
Do I love doing this more than anything else?
Do I enjoy working holidays and weekends while my family and friends are having fun?
Do I have grease instead of blood running through my veins?
Do I love the rush of adrenaline when there's so much work to do and so little time to do it?
Do I have pride in my work even though it's a deadly sin?
Would I rather die than disappoint a guest?

There are lots of other questions to ask yourself, but if you can answer yes to all of these questions, you can go ahead and call yourself chef.

Personnally, I tell people to call me by my first name as it doesn't say "chef" anywhere on my birth certificate.

Ciao for now
May 23, 2002 8:04 PM quote 
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Thanks so much for your responses!

Yes Henry I do tend to agree with you. I certainly do "walk the walk," though sometimes it is more running than walking. lol.


Yes to all your questions! Although I don't run the whole kitchen, I do run the baking section, make my own menus, inventory, direct others who might be helping me. I love what I do and it gives me great pleasure to see and hear customers reactions to the pastrys that I create.

I don't think that I have grease running through my veins.
Maybe a combination of butter and sugar. lol
May 23, 2002 10:25 PM quote 
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Hi Lisa,
The word Chef means in charge....If you are in charge of the baking department then you could call yourself the pastry Chef.
Being a real Chef means being in Charge of the whole place. If you follow the line of protocal then you can't call yourself the chef, just a department chef. The Chef's job means you have to train all stations, cooking, food safety, WHIMIS, everything....
But being a Chef i don't think necessarily means going to school. I didn't and I know something about every type of food. Learn as you go and work yourself up the latter to be the ultimate CHEF who is in charge of everything.

I worked and learned and wrote my Journeymans and Red Seal. So I have the papers. Different provinces and states have different rules about writing for papers, check them out. I persoanlly think you will have a better chance of learning if you self study and learn on the job, because then you will experience the real world of cooking, not a closed, regulated environment as in a class.
Good luck, and watch out for the "bug"...once it stings you you're trapped
May 24, 2002 7:43 AM quote 
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If I came to work for you could you tell me (without a book in front of you) how to make croissant dough?
Or why you don't heat couverture above 104 F?
Or the definition and method for Ganache, Genoise, and Gelato?

If so then you may be comfortable with the title Chef.

My point is be sure you KNOW what you are doing. I didn't accept that title until I would be comfortable with cooks and aprentices asking many questions (because that's what they do).
I needed to be sure I could answer them correctly and demonstrate methods when appropriate.

May 24, 2002 10:21 AM quote 
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Wouldn't you call yourself a baker?
I mean if you work in a bakery and all, or Pastry chef as stated before.

chef actually means "boss"
chef de cuisine "boss of the kitchen"

In german chefs are called koch "cook", the head chef is Kochchef "cook boss"

In north america Chefs are not called cooks because they, or we want to make a difference between someone cooking frech fries and burgers to actually cooking.

What about the term "Gourmet cook", or "Gourmet Chef" just a bunch of hogwash?
I think so.
Or how about a small restaurant with 40 seats and the chef is all of a sudden Executive Chef.
I believe the term Ex. Chef should only be used when the chef doesn't cook. eg. huge hotel or maybe golf course.

Guess Im getting to the point that people just throw around these names, all they mean is nothing really because we are all cooks.

Anyone agree?
May 24, 2002 10:53 AM quote 
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Pinarello, I am an Executive Chef at a Country Club in NY.

I do cook, LOL, but only under certain circumstances; someone is missing from the line, working a line shift to stay sharp, demonstrating (teaching the staff), development of new menu items, or simply because I want to.

I think any Chef must be able & willing to step into any job in the kitchen, dishwasher as well. When you can do anyone's job as well or better than them it gives you the power to tell them to leave if you are having problems with an attitude.

Lisa84966, Pastry Chef if you can prepare most of what Wanderingchef mentions. Baker, if you are using Box mixes & egg washing frozen pies and slapping them in the oven.

Many Culinary School Grads expect to be referred to as Chef without paying their dues. I agree with GBS, you must run a kitchen to have the title "Chef". This excludes the title "Pastry Chef", I would never consider myself a Pastry Chef. While I can create some very nice desserts, my scratch puff pastry is a disaster

A Chef is also the creative force behind the kitchen, other members of the staff will contribute, but the Chef sets the "bar".

May 24, 2002 2:27 PM quote 
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If the title of chef increases you chance of getting paid more, then to hell with what people think. You could easily get away with calling yourself a chef. Actually the company you’re working for will probably love the idea, since it makes them look good in the eyes of potential customers.

If you really want to feel like a chef start saying stuff like:

If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
Make me some simple syrup.
Those doughnuts require more glaze.
Put it in the freezer, now!
Can you smell what the LISA is cooking?!!
Damn, my feet are killing me.
If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the bakery department.
Look at a rack of freshly bake bread and ask, “Who made this?” shake your head and then walk away.
Who’s your daddy? Who’s you daddy? That’s correct, I’m your daddy. (Of course you would say mama. Actually you should only say this in you mind. It's just part of the silent ego.)

Call yourself a chef, you wont' hear me complain, nor will you hear anyone else complain. Besides, most people give themselves the title before they deserve it. They usually just grow into the title over time. Give yourself the title and grow into it. Simple.

Take care, Chef Lisa.
May 25, 2002 1:00 PM quote 
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To Chef or not to Chef.

The title is overused and very often misapplied to anyone who wears the uniform.
That being the case, sometimes NOT calling yourself chef is a personal disservice as you may then be considered on equal footing with some hack who besmirches the profession (and you may be paid less).

I disagreee with the notion that an EXECUTIVE Chef does not do any cooking. That really varies from one operation to another and the manner in which a chef chooses to run his/her kitchen. If you are a working chef does that mean that you do not have the administrative responsiblities of an exec.? Not usually

Titles have never been very important to me as I consider them restrictive. As an executive banquet chef i have rolled up my sleeves and helped the dishwashers when it was necessary. Grabbing a mop, peeling onions, while not my favorite things to do, I still consider part of my job when it means that my kitchen runs smoother (or at all). When it is to the advantage of the operation I have been known to help the wait staff (if I had time).
I once worked in a place where I was, by title bestowed on me, Exec. Banquet Chef.
Theoretically I answered only to the owners. The "Executive Chef" was in fact and deed only the restaurant chef although the owners gave him the grander title. That title was the source of much conflict as he then considered himself my boss. It was a case of the tail wagging the dog.
The banquet department (mine) produced 85% of revenues versus 15% for the restaurant. The restaurant kitchen staff was double mine AND to a man better paid. Go figure!
I don't care what a persons title is (which often gets my a** in hot water). If you are a general manager, food and beverage director or a dishwasher, when you are right you are right, when you are wrong you are wrong.
The individual makes the title, the title doesn't make the individual.
My 5 cents.
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