Disclaimer: I've been advised not to write this post. The cool thing about advice is that you can either take it or leave it. I'm choosing to leave it today.
Forbes Magazine has recently released a list of the top earning celebrity chefs. Allegedly topping this list was Rachel Ray. I say allegedly because she's NOT A CHEF. Call her anything you want.....successful? I can't question that one. She's very successful and earns a ton of money. Lifestyle coach? Sure. She can teach you how to whip up some pre-packaged food into a meal with interesting catch phrases like EVOO, and YUM-O. Media Maven? You got it. I have no argument with any of those and I think she has worked very hard to achieve a level of success that not many folks can reach. So on that end; congrats. However, to totally rip off Lloyd Bentsen from the 1988 Vice-Presidential Debates 'Ms. Ray, I worked with chefs: I knew chefs; chefs are friends of mine. Ms. Ray, you're no chef.'
I bring this up partly because it chaps my ass that she's being described as a chef. However, the issue is a much larger one. It seems everyone wants to be described as a chef these days. Regardless of experience or talent, kids who haven't even graduated from culinary school or touched the hot line for that matter are asking for jobs 'with managerial responsibility' or changing recipes because their way is 'better'. I told you that so I could tell you this: Being a chef is about the grind. It's about the day to day. Putting your head down and doing it Can you peel a carrot better today than you did yesterday? Does the smell of browning bones still excite you? Do you live for the rush of dinner service? Did you learn one new thing today? Did you do one thing better today than you did yesterday?
I've been very fortunate to get where I've gotten as quickly as I have. Yes, I've worked hard for it and yes, every day I realize how much I have to learn. Someone recently asked me if I still like cooking....I love professional cooking. Love it. Walking in to a spotless kitchen first thing in the morning, putting on the coat and apron, knowing the possibilities of the day and working to fulfill them. Yes, I'm a chef. The guys that work with me are chefs, too. Let's not confuse the issue and dilute what we do by referring to every TV personality who shakes a pan and has a sweet set of catch phrases as a chef. They're not.