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What separates an elite chef

 
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udashy



Joined: 29 Nov 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:09 am    Post subject: What separates an elite chef Reply with quote

What separates an elite chef from just a good cook? Besides things like knife skills, or amount of recipes memorized? Is it more like, knowing when to add salt, etc? (I can't even make toast or pasta). Given the same recipe and ingredients, will the elite chef make a superior dish than a regular good cook?
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Last edited by udashy on Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:35 am; edited 1 time in total
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DrBiggles



Joined: 12 May 2005
Posts: 352
Location: Richmond, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 12:01 am    Post subject: Re: What separates an elite chef Reply with quote

udashy wrote:
What separates an elite chef from just a good cook? Besides things like knife skills, or amount of recipes memorized? Is it more like, knowing when to add salt, etc? (I can't even make toast or pasta). Given the same recipe and ingredients, will the elite chef make a superior dish than a regular good cook?


Hmm, well, pretty much everything most of us don't have either mentally or physically.

xo, Biggles
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A chef's most important skills are the ability to develop something new, innovative, or sublime to the customer's table and tongue, to understand other people's palates and cook for them rather than his own tongue, and to wield a sequence of dishes as if they were a symphony. But chef is far more than an excellent and inventive cook, though s/he must by necessity be those as well. S/he is a leader, a mentor and teacher, an organizer, often a small business owner or manager as well. Even an adequate chef must be able to skillfully handle a wide variety of situations beyond menu planning or executing a single dish in front of a camera with a little panache.

The skills and encyclopedic knowledge of a consummate food professional are not out of the reach of the home cook, though some of the more advanced gastronomical equipment is rarely found in a home kitchen. However few amateurs have the resources and time to devote themselves as fully to the craft as a professional. Nor do they have the opportunity to repeat the same actions thousands of a times a year, and thereby develop finely honed instincts, motor skills, and a greater understanding of the food and their interaction with it. Knife skills (which, amongst all the knife porn and obsessiveness, imo are overrated. They may allow the cook to work very quickly and produce consistent product which looks pleasing and cooks evenly, but flavor doesn't come from perfect cuts. After you can perform basic cuts without lopping your hand off, knife skills benefit presentation, productivity, and waste, none of which are as important to the home cook as they are to the professional), an intuitive sense of seasoning, and other basic skills are all highly developed well before a professional cook is able to fulfill the role of a chef.

An excellent professional cook, following a recipe exactly would probably create a slightly better meal than the average home cook, while using a recipe as a direction and relying upon the senses and years of experience would result in a significantly better meal. However an excellent chef demonstrating his craft would make a dish which might be quite unlike the recipe yet amazing or so improve upon the dish that it might show the rarified essence of what the recipe's author had been trying to communicate.

(as a home cook, once you have mastered your basic skills, you will soon find that recipes are merely suggestions. They are meant to communicate procedures and rough quantities, but ingredient can be substituted, and measurements fudged. Don't be afraid to play around and make mistakes. Those elite chefs have made far more mistakes than you ever will, but theyve learned from each of them)
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