Every time I put on that white double-breasted chef’s jacket, checkered pants, crisp white bib apron and touque (chef’s hat) – I feel like a chef. I’m tempted to wander the streets of TO in my full uniform with my toolbox of equipment, in case - god forbid - there’s a culinary emergency, and I’m called to action. Give me a moment while I dream….
Okay back to reality!
To date, I’ve done 3 of the 9 classes required for the Culinary Arts certificate after which I can confidently say I’ll be a much better cook. Becoming a chef in a long and arduous process that generally takes a couple of years. Hours are spent learning food theory, sanitation and food and beverage costs. Then months if, not years are spent apprenticing under more experienced Chef’s. All the while exercising patience and honing your skills before ascending to the ranks of Executive Chef.
With each class, I feel my skills getting stronger and my creativity increasing exponentially, but in my opinion, I’m a long way off from being called a Chef. To claim otherwise would seem to belittle what it takes to rise in the profession. That said it still hasn’t stopped friends from asking that most innocuous question. At the end of this certificate, do you get to call yourself a chef?
Short answer – no!
A couple of days ago, I was chatting with Ruby and giving her an update on my latest classes when she asked THE question. I paused, somewhat confused, because I knew that we had a conversation previously about what it takes to become a chef, and I thought she understood that’s not my goal. While I admire the profession, I have no desire to work in a kitchen brigade.
So with great patience, I reminded her about our past conversation. With even greater patience, she reminded me that - she’s old, but not forgetful! She then reminded me of the definition of chef. Head of the kitchen - the person responsible for planning menus, ordering ingredients, overseeing food preparation, and supervising the kitchen staff. To her this is what I already do; therefore I’m already a chef, honing my skills while I work towards my goal.
I like the way you think Rubes although we’ll agree to disagree on this one. One love!
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