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A cook is sometimes referred to as a chef, although in the professional kitchen, the terms are not interchangeable.
The term ,,cook" within a restaurant kitchen usually refers to a person with little to no creative influence on a menu and little to no command over others within the kitchen, such as a line cook. These are usually all members of a restaurant kitchen that are underneath the sous chef in the brigade de cuisine. Other establishments may have a relatively constant menu, often only having people that can prepare food quickly and consistently, having little need for an executive chef or sous chef. The kitchens in these particular restaurants would thus be entirely run by cooks intimately acquainted with the menu. This example would not include the short order cook, however, since they are capable and willing to cook items that are not on the menu.
When used of residential staff the word cook may refer to the head of the kitchen in a great house or to a cook-housekeeper, responsible for cleaning as well.
Professional cooks were used in Sardinia during the Nuragic Age, as proved by the typical sculptures of the Bronze Age, and in Mycenaean Greece and they are mentioned in Linear b syllabic script. The first Olympic champion listed in the records was a cook, Coroebus of Elis, who won the sprint race in 776 BC.
Lawrence of Rome, traditionally a patron saint of cooks and roasters, is reported to have said as he was being burned at the stake in the third century, ,,I'm roasted on this side. If you want me well done, it's time to turn me over."
A chef is a highly trained and skilled professional cook who is proficient in all aspects of food preparation of a particular cuisine. The word ,,chef" is derived (and shortened) from the term chef de cuisine (French pronunciation: [ʃɛf.də.kɥi.zin]), the director or head of a kitchen. Chefs can receive both formal training from an institution, as well as through apprenticeship with an experienced chef.
There are different terms that use the word chef in their titles, and deal with specific areas of food preparation, such as the Sous-chef, who acts as the second-in-command in a kitchen, or the Chef de partie, who handles a specific area of production. The Brigade system is a system of hierarchy found in restaurants and hotels employing extensive staff, many of which use the word chef in their titles. Underneath the chefs are the kitchen assistants. A chef's standard uniform includes a hat called a toque, necktie, double-breasted jacket, apron and shoes with steel or plastic toe-caps.
The word ,,chef" is derived (and shortened) from the term chef de cuisine (French pronunciation: [ʃɛf.də.kɥi.zin]), the director or head of a kitchen. (The French word comes from Latin caput and is a doublet with English "chief".) In English, the title ,,chef" in the culinary profession originated in the haute cuisine of the 19th century. The culinary arts, among other aspects of the French language introduced French loan-words into the English language.
Various titles, detailed below, are given to those working in a professional kitchen and each can be considered a title for a type of chef. Many of the titles are based on the brigade de cuisine (or brigade system) documented by Auguste Escoffier, while others have a more general meaning depending on the individual kitchen.
Other names include executive chef, chef manager, head chef, and master chef. This person is in charge of all activities related to the kitchen, which usually includes menu creation, management of kitchen staff, ordering and purchasing of inventory, and plating design. Chef de cuisine is the traditional French term from which the English word chef is derived. Head chef is often used to designate someone with the same duties as an executive chef, but there is usually someone in charge of a head chef, possibly making the larger executive decisions such as direction of menu, final authority in staff management decisions, and so on. This is often the case for executive chefs with multiple restaurants. Involved in checking the sensory evaluation of dishes after preparation and they are well aware of each sensory property of those specific dishes.
The Sous-Chef de Cuisine (under-chef of the kitchen) is the second-in-command and direct assistant of the Chef de Cuisine. This person may be responsible for scheduling the kitchen staff, or substituting when the head chef is off-duty. Also, he or she will fill in for or assist the Chef de Partie (line cook) when needed. This person is accountable for the kitchen's inventory, cleanliness, organization, and the continuing training of its entire staff. A sous-chef's duties can also include carrying out the head chef's directives, conducting line checks, and overseeing the timely rotation of all food products. Smaller operations may not have a sous-chef, while larger operations may have more than one. The sous chef is also responsible when the Executive Chef is absent.
A chef de partie, also known as a ,,station chef" or ,,line cook," is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several cooks or assistants. In most kitchens, however, the chef de partie is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with ,,first cook," then ,,second cook," and so on as needed.
A commis is a basic chef in larger kitchens who works under a chef de partie to learn the station's or range's responsibilities and operation. This may be a chef who has recently completed formal culinary training or is still undergoing training.