Mood: not sure
Now Playing: A cook in chef's clothing
Is a chef better or more clever than a cook?
Obviously it depends on the chef and depends on the cook. The word "chef" implies training and skill at difficult tasks. To be a cook you merely have to know how to saute an onion. (My little kids, 3 and 4, are cooks then, since they helped me stir onions for my carbonnades de flamande the other day. They squabbled and fussed over whose turn it was, but they were both good at it, better than me at age 19 in France, spilling onions out of the tall pot, my Uncle Conrad (RIP) admonishing me that I'd never find a husband if I couldn't even cook onions right.)
A cook is an artist, a chef an architect: Cassatt to Corbusier. That's where lines blur because many architects are in fact artists as well as technically adept, like chefs are cooks who combine creativity and skill. In Michael Ruhlman's The Making of a Chef, accomplished trained Chef Uwe Hestnar says proudly "I am a cook."
I am not a chef but I play one on TV. Well, not yet, but in public anyway I have been known to don chef's whites to inspire confidence in my audience. And myself. Although I have spent untold hours in my own kitchen and those of caterers and restaurants who have employed me, I feel a bit of an impostor, since I don't have a certificate of graduation from culinary school, since I have never made a gallantine. I don't turn out prettily constructed dishes by the dozens at busy restaurants; my last line cook experience ended in tears, because as my husband tells me I run on only one speed: slow. I don't spend eleven-hour days on my feet, running non-stop in a frenzied flurry of multi-tasking--well, actually I do, I have two small children, but usually my eleven cooking-related hours in the course of a day are spent reading and writing about food, dreaming up a feast and and how I will make it and who I will serve it to.
But I'm proud and happy to wear chef's clothing. Not every celebrity chef has that certificate of graduation from chef school. I can bandy about the words "self-taught," I can learn from chefs and books whenever I can, and I can keep on practicing my craft.
I am more Cassatt than Corbusier. I cook to comfort people, not to impress. I cook to please, not to support the weight of thousands. I cook for love, I cook to express my creativity. I cook because cooking is an outlet for my artist's soul. I cook, like I write, because I have to.
But mostly I cook because I love to eat.
I don't think chef and cook are two different things. The lines blur, the definitions are vague. Both chefs and cooks feed people, some inspired by art, some by pleasure, some by pure need to make a living.
What do you think is the difference between a cook and a chef? Are they the same thing?