Strictly speaking, the term “professional chef” can be viewed as a slight redundancybecause second word is already generally regarded as one who is educated andexperienced in all aspects of food preparation. Given this definition, it can helpdelineate a chef from a cook who simply possesses the basics and fundamentalknowledge of food preparation. This isn’t to put down the skills and talents of the selftaught cook but to give credence and recognition to the many years it takes a chefto earn his or her title.All too often, one comes across successful entrepreneurs who established popularrestaurants without having to employ formally educated kitchen staff. This isbecause the art of food preparation is something that can be developed notnecessarily in a classroom but through years of apprenticeship or self study.Depending on the type of eatery, a small cafe offering simple sandwiches, pasta,desserts and drinks may not necessarily have to employ highly qualified staff andcan operate successfully with cooks who can follow a recipe and have basicknowledge on kitchen operations. On the other hand, much larger establishmentslike five-star hotels and cruise ships with multiple food and beverage outlets andfancy fine-dining restaurants and banquet halls that seat over a hundred guests atone time need to hire a full kitchen team, oftentimes with college graduatessupervising their specific areas from sauciers handling sautéed items and sauces andchefs dedicated to fish, roasts, grills, cold items and desserts.Apart from specific cooking duties, chefs should be able to create and cost outmenus, develop recipes, manage and control procurement, labor and food costs.In addition to this, overall administration duties of the culinary team or departmentfall on the plate of the kitchen executive or his assistant–hiring, firing, training andpeople management and many other duties.Formal training obtained in learning institutions, regardless if they are expensiveculinary academies offering four-year degrees or community colleges offering short
cookingcourses, providethe buildingblocks of thecareer of achef. Thoughbeingeducated andtitledautomaticallygains someonerecognitionamong peersandsubordinates, toexhibit theessence ofprofessionalismthrough hardwork, patience,discipline, and perseverance ultimately earns respect.The most successful of career chefs all start out as a graduate of culinary school withno experience except for a couple hundreds of on the job training. Then there’s selftaught cooks who didn’t even complete cooking school and instead worked theirway up from being a dishwasher and eventually rose the ranks to become kitchenexecutives. In any case, dedication to the job is the key to success with a pinch ofluck.