Chef Paul

PaulPrudhommeSigningHolgaACropI have often dismissed the outpouring of regret when a celebrity passes away. In those times I usually like to point out that while the celebrity lived (and died) pretty well, many unfortunates lived and died in horrible circumstance, unnoticed. No less can be said of one of my culinary icon’s, Chef Paul Prudhomme. Having said all of that, I would like to take my moment to eulogize a person that had no small amount of impact on my life (and to be sure, the lives of many).  Continue reading

Chef – The Film

I knew there was a high chance that I would like the film Chef by Jon Favreau when I first heard about it last year. Favreau had clearly done a lot of homework back then and had thrown around line cook slang like he had chops. I always enjoy a film about my vocation that has a heavy seasoning of inside baseball. Plus I am a sucker for feel good movies about food. Continue reading

The Scullery – A Gateway to the Kitchen

I have been happy to see the dish room in Manila manned by young people, many of whom hope to move into the kitchen proper if given a chance. This is where my professional kitchen career began (some may allege remains). In this era of formal education this start may have its detractors, but I have always been proud of, and glad for it. I find having that foundation gave me much more awareness of the entire operation, when I had risen to a palace where such things matter. I also find it still makes for a superior leader of people (though the comment may make me a braggart). Continue reading

Yes Chef!

This was originally posted on my old blog in 2008. I post it here in preparation for another post I am working on.

According to Wikipedia, and many lay people I meet nowadays the term chef can be used in addressing any professional cook.

This is incorrect. The proper term for a cook is cook. Chef, is a technical term for a specific trade and so it has a more restrictive common-use definition. Within the profession, the term is reserved for a section or kitchen supervisor.

The word has is French for chief or head. So an executive chef is in charge of a large kitchen(s). Chef de cuisine is the manager of a kitchen or restaurant. sous chef is a shift manager, and the section chef is called chef de par tie. A cook is called commis in French.

There is nothing diminutive about being called a cook. Many chefs yearn to be cooks as often as possible, setting aside the myriad management tasks that come with being a chef, but are so far removed from food preparation. Using the one term for the other confuses the matter…if everyone is called chef, then there will be too many chefs and not enough Indians cooks…as it were.

You wouldn’t go about calling an apprentice, master craftsman; or a book-keeper, the comptroller; or an EMT, doctor; would you? So do me a favor, when you hear someone referring to the cook as a chef, please politely correct his or her misuse.


Dear travel friends, I am now in Chile as the Hong Kong delegate to the World Association of Chef Societies congress. Since my reporting here is of much concern for Hong Kong professional chefs and not as much about travel as chef stuff, I am posting this trip on my food blog: Thought For Food. Please view it there, I will be updating daily for sure.