Chefs – artists or craftsmen?

The more I think about it, I feel that great cooks and chefs are not artists, but craftsmen.  Not that this is an original thought, but one that I’m not officially agreeing with.  While it’s true that some food is beautiful and there is an artistic flair to cooking, the repetition and perfection aspect of professional cooking tells me that it’s truly a craft, a trade like a carpenter.  The onion soup we had at Niche Brasserie inspired me to make some as well.  This is a “simple” soup.  It has 8 ingredients: onions, butter, beef stock, salt, pepper, bay leaf, thyme and sherry vinegar.  However, caramelizing the onions for 4 hours, chopping them perfectly so that they’re the same size, making sure the onions have cooked down to the correct point before adding the stock, it’s all technical. It all needs to be done correctly to make sure that the end product comes out right.  It’s a devotion to this craft, to strive for perfection no matter how simple the task that makes a great cook.


2 Responses to “Chefs – artists or craftsmen?”

  1. frank Says:

    There is a difference between a cook and a chef. The former is a craftsman, the latter an artist – a distinction I learned reading Nero Wolfe mysteries over 30 years ago.

  2. Pam Says:

    my mom, who graduated from the CIA, always said that a chef is a visionary and a cook is the executioner. It would drive her a bit nuts when a dude was called a chef without the schooling, but I believe in this day and age you almost have to look at it like time in the trenches; if you can become a visionary after having spent time in the trenches, then you might have a chance to be a chef.

    A chef is an artist; a cook is a craftsman. One envisions what is to come and the other executes that vision.

    that’s my two cents 🙂

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