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What is the difference between a chef and a cook?  

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago
  • Author:by Collette Negre

Whether you’re a veteran when it comes to hiring domestic staff, or new to the industry, sometimes it can be confusing figuring out what kind of position you need to fill. Should you hire a private chef, or should you hire a cook? And really, what is the difference between a chef and a cook? 

Keep reading to find out more about how a chef differs from a cook, and let us help you figure out which one you need! 

Should I hire a private chef

There’s no shortage of stereotypes and depictions of chef’s in popular culture and on social media. From Ralph Fiennes in the recent, spectacularly gory ‘The Menu’, to the much beloved character of Remy from Ratatouille. But what truly makes a chef? 

The most typical characteristic of a chef is that they will have achieved some sort of culinary qualification - whether from a culinary school, or a series of on-the-job qualifications, they’ll have been schooled in some way.

There are of course some exceptions to this rule - you could reasonably call yourself a chef if you’ve spent two decades working your way through the ranks of various Michelin star kitchens. Chef’s are also responsible for setting the tone and theme of the kitchen - deciding on (and editing) a menu, experimenting with different flavours and ingredients, and utilising seasonal produce in their food choices. 

In the busy environment of a kitchen, hierarchy is also extremely important. Chefs also take on a managerial role, and depending on the size of the kitchen, may be overseeing a team of several cooks. A personal chef who works either alone or in a small team must be able to prepare meals of all types and cuisines, and be able to organise extremely customised menus for their clientele. 

Or should I hire a cook? 

One of the ultimate differences between a chef and a cook (other than official qualifications) is the level of responsibility. Cooks are extremely skilled technicians who cook and prepare food to the highest degree of quality, often specialising in one or two areas of food. However, they are still generally following the instructions or menu laid out by the head chef. 

A cook may also have specific responsibilities that have been delegated to them by the chef. For example, in a larger kitchen, you might have a fish chef, or a pastry chef, or a grill chef. To further complicate matters, even though these individuals are actually cooks, they are referred to as chefs (don’t worry, we can help you figure out what you need!).

If you don’t need a chef, and you’re just looking to hire a cook, it’s a good idea to check if they have any specialisms. If you’re a vegetarian, for example, it might not be the best idea to hire a fish chef!

Now that you know the difference between a chef and a cook… 

Whether or not you’re more suited to a cook or a chef will also depend on your environment, kitchen, and planned workload. If you’re catering an event for a hundred people, you’ll need a Head Chef along with a small team of cooks. 

If you’re a busy family that just sometimes needs some help, a cook will probably suit your needs. You might even need both positions, for different occasions or purposes. Whatever your requirements, we’ll be happy to help, and put our expertise to the test. 

If you’ve read this and you’re still not sure what kind of position you should be hiring for, get in touch with us! We’ve got extensive experience in the domestic staff market, and we’re always happy to spend time with our clients to ensure that they can truly get what they need from our resources. 

For any other enquiries, you can contact us here. Whether you’re a chef or a cook looking for your next challenge, or you’ve got a gap in your team of domestic staff that needs filling, or you’re just curious about the process, we look forward to hearing from you.