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The Chef: How to reach the top of the Culinary Arts Ladder

The title of chef is a very high honor. In Europe, and in the finest American restaurants, it is considered the highest point in a culinary career. The chef's job description makes it seem that he or she is absolute royalty. In fact, if you think of the culinary arts as a great kingdom, the chef truly is a ruler. That's why it is sometimes painful to hear the title "chef" given to everyone who anything has to do with food preparation.

Who Is and Isn't a Chef

A chef is someone who has studied the culinary arts and who has pursued a culinary career with a great deal of seriousness. The hash slinger in your local diner is probably not a chef--even if the waitresses address him or her by that honorary title. The grouch who runs the military mess hall and makes boot-camp training just a little bit more miserable may be a ruler in a certain area of culinary arts, but he probably doesn't fit the chef job description. The person, half hidden in the smoke of burning steaks, with a beer in one hand and a barbeque fork in the other, is not likely to be in the midst of a culinary career--even if his apron says "I am the chef."

The True Chef's Job Description

A chef's job description is similar to that of the captain of a large ship. The chef is expected to know everything about the culinary arts, and yet to delegate more than half the details to underlings. The chef plans the course of a restaurant just as a captain plans the ship's course. The chef is responsible for seeing that supplies are in place and that the personnel are all doing their jobs. The chef is, indeed, the ruler in the land of the culinary arts.