Chef vs cook: What’s the difference between both?

Chef vs cook: What’s the difference between both? To answer this question simply, a chef is a person who has been trained to recognize flavors, master cooking techniques, create dishes from scratch using fresh ingredients, and hold a high level of responsibility in the kitchen.

A cook is someone who prepares food according to a set of instructions.

While the definitions of each role cover the essentials, the distinctions have a deeper meaning. There are numerous distinctions between a chef and a cook, and we’ve taken the effort to clarify them in this post.

Kitchen Organization

To better understand who is a chef and who is a cook, it is necessary to first comprehend the two vocations’ respective career paths.

Chefs and cooks may do identical overlapping responsibilities, but when you leave the kitchen, you’ll notice the actual difference.

When a cook leaves the kitchen, he or she is almost finished for the day. Outside of the kitchen, chefs must update their menus and ensure that all administrative chores, such as timetables and payroll, are completed.

Chef vs cook


In a kitchen, there are various different sorts of cooks that might be recruited. They can be classified based on where a portion of the kitchen they work in and how much experience they have.

Stagiaires work in the kitchen as “interns.” They may be enrolled in an apprenticeship program or have recently graduated from culinary school.

Cooks in upper-level kitchens are known as kitchen porters. They help with basic kitchen tasks such as vegetable preparation and minor cleaning.

They may have some training, but this is not always the case. They are comparable to prep cooks, although they may have had culinary training and are working their way up the food chain.

Junior Cooks/Commis are people who learn how to run a portion of the line under the supervision of a line cook. They may or may not be trained in the kitchen.

Cooks who work on “the line,” or a station that makes a certain sort of cuisine, is known as line cooks. They have a specialization in that field, and it is their day-to-day obligation.

Cooks perform a number of tasks and will always work under the supervision of a chef to ensure that the kitchen runs well.

The overarching role of a cook is to assist in the execution of the chef’s culinary vision.

Chef vs cook


Chefs can work in a variety of capacities in a kitchen, from entry-level employment to executive positions. A chef in these positions may be in charge of a number of tasks that keep the restaurant running smoothly.

Chef de Parties (Station Chefs) supervise various stations in the kitchen and produce specialized meals, sauces, and sides. Sauce, butcher, fish, roast, fried, grill, pantry, bakery, vegetable, and swing are some examples of stations (who gives breaks as needed).

Under the supervision of the head chef or sous chef, a station chef can produce dishes depending on their area of expertise.

The sous chef is the kitchen’s direct supervisor and deputy chef. They are in charge of preparing meals, monitoring daily cooking, and filling in for the head chef when one is not available or needed.

The head chef is known as the Chef de Cuisine. Head chefs are the people in charge of the kitchen on a daily basis, taking on managerial responsibilities, overseeing personnel, making purchases, and collaborating with the restaurant manager to develop new menus and dishes.

The Executive Chef is the head chef who oversees kitchen operations, costs, various locations, and the financial aspect of the organization.

They don’t usually cook on a daily basis, but they can certainly do so in an emergency.

There’s also the option of hiring a personal chef. Personal chefs frequently operate alone or in small groups in private kitchens.

They must be able to cook a wide range of meals as well as create highly tailored menus for their customers.

A personal chef can cook on-site for a client or prepare and mail meals to be cooked when they arrive.

A chef represents the top level of the culinary hierarchy, much like a captain of a ship.

Chefs are expected to comprehend not just intricate flavor dynamics and how to develop the best menu items, but also to handle the kitchen’s business side.

A chef serves as both a supervisor and a manager in the kitchen, yet he or she may still work closely with his or her crew to ensure that everything runs well.

School of Culinary Arts and Education

The level of education that separates a chef from a cook is one of the most important distinctions.

This training and education can distinguish people who enjoy cooking and fulfill their duties on a daily basis from those who are passionate about using their leadership and culinary abilities on a greater scale.

Chef’s Training

A chef is usually well-educated and holds a culinary degree. To absorb the principles and learn from someone with practical expertise, chefs go through classroom-style education and extensive kitchen training in apprenticeships.

This teaches students the ins and outs of the kitchen, allowing them to become well-rounded employees who are significant assets to any restaurant.

Cook’s Schooling

Cooking jobs are frequently entry-level positions. There is no required degree or training program, and the nature of a cook’s job will vary depending on where they work.

Cooks don’t need the same level of education and experience as chefs because they’re usually tasked with following recipes rather than developing them or creating new menus. Cooks can be trained depending on their position and the type of cuisine they prepare.

Chef vs Cook: Which is Better?

You’ll need more than just experience to be a successful chef; you’ll also need the correct personality.

Chefs must have a positive attitude, a strong work ethic, and the ability to motivate and lead a large group of people in the kitchen.

The best chefs aspire to be in the kitchen every day, to learn something new every day, and to always improve their recipes.

These characteristics and habits can help you distinguish yourself as a chef. It is, however, possible to be regarded a chef without attending a culinary school.

It takes years to amass knowledge and recipes, as well as the experiences that only years in the kitchen can provide.

A chef can be achieved more quickly and efficiently through schooling, but a cook with experience and the aforementioned characteristics can also achieve this distinction, albeit over a much longer period of time.

Salaries of a Chef vs. a Cook

The pay of a cook is mostly determined by their level of experience. The national average for chefs who are just starting out with no experience is roughly $12.18 per hour.

This works out to almost $23,000 each year. If they have more experience, they may be able to make up to $15.00 per hour, to begin with, with their income increasing with time.

While factors such as experience, geography, and background do influence pay, these are the averages. Some of the average salaries for some of the culinary positions covered are listed below:

A chef’s hourly wage starts at roughly $15.00. This is the starting point for the national average. This works out to a little more than $31,000 every year.

They can earn a lot more money throughout the course of their career, and it varies depending on where they work. The following are the typical wages for the chefs we’ve discussed:

• Chef de Partie: $17.11 per hour ($35,588 per year)

• Sous Chef: $16.08 per hour ($33,446 per year)

• Executive Chef: $28.53 per hour (annual salary: $59,342)

• Personal Chef ($57,636 per year): $27.71 per hour

Advantages of Working as a Chef

There are numerous advantages to becoming a chef. Some of the incredible opportunities that come with the title are listed below.

Cooks are restricted to following recipes and lack the necessary skills to understand complicated flavor characteristics.

While cooks can prepare delicious cuisine, they lack the ability to create new dishes or menus in restaurants.

Every Day is Different: No two days will ever be the same. On the plate, every day brings new possibilities to learn, develop, and express your creativity.

First Look at the Food: You’ll be tasting each item as you cook to assess its flavor, which means you’ll be continuously consuming great cuisine produced by yourself and others in the kitchen around you.

Always Learning and Training: You’ll have the chance to work with a variety of amazing individuals.

Once you’ve progressed in your job, you’ll be able to share your knowledge with other aspiring cooks and chefs.

You’re Your Own Boss: You’ll be able to advance to a variety of culinary jobs, including management positions, or even start your own business.

You can go literally anywhere with a kitchen or create your own because of the diversified training.

Team Leadership: You won’t be on your own; instead, you’ll be part of a fantastic group. Many culinary teams develop into close-knit families who create a positive environment in which you may work and flourish.

Authority & Respect: Having the title implies that you will be treated with respect. The title denotes that you have advanced to the top of your field, have the necessary expertise, and training to succeed.

Chef Hours of Operation

Chefs and cooks are frequently required to work long hours. You’ll feel like you’re living out of your kitchen at first. You’ll smell like a kitchen when you arrive home.

This is a cultural norm in the culinary sector because perfecting the art and gaining experiences requires time and effort.

Chefs typically work 50 to 70 hours per week, to begin with. Early mornings or late evenings, weekends, and holidays are all possibilities.

As you advance in your career and gain the ability to outsource additional duties, you may find yourself working fewer hours and approaching a more typical 40-50 hour workweek.

With such long hours in the kitchen, you’ll become accustomed to being there, form tight ties with your coworkers, and be able to put your passion and creativity on a plate.

After all, more hours in the kitchen equals more practice, so even if striking a work/life balance is difficult, your time in the kitchen will never be wasted.

Putting It All Together

Chefs and cooks are both important members of a culinary team.

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