Friday, January 31, 2014

Writer vs Author // Chef vs Cook

At the Brockton Writer's Series (hosted by Full of Beans) earlier this month, the guest speakers stated that he viewed himself as a writer instead of an author. I believe this is because writers use the medium of words to educate while authors have a burning desire to write – they cannot chose not to write. Authors have to write or their stories will overtake them.

As my one little word of 2014 is WRITE this little statement reminded me of the interplay between chef and cook. Cooks are generally viewed as lesser than chef (especially due to the cult of the celebrity) but I believe that cooks are the educators and truly passioned individuals of the food industry. Cooks cannot chose an different profession/passion. Chefs chose their career and the motivation isn't food in and of itself.
What do you think of my descriptions of these categories?

What did I WRITE in January?

MonthlyMini: Iss 001 NOG

BakingThrough Anxiety” (Guest Post)
SpicyPear Cocktail” (Tall Boys)


  1. Thanks for posting this, Sarah. I think about words and word usage a lot, and particularly struggle with the ambiguous distinction yet ubiquitous use of the word "chef," so, here goes:

    To me, "author" and "chef" indicate professional (*paid*) vocation while "writer" and "cook" are commonly used to describe one’s interest/hobby as well as sometimes to also describe vocation.

    To me, an "author" is someone who is *paid* to write, has successfully published work (by a 3rd party) and is well-known and/or commercially successful. Anyone can say they are a writer, only published (by a 3rd party), *paid* writers can say they are authors. But, that’s me.

    The term chef, however, gets thrown around far too often and has lost a lot of meaning in the last decade (I'd blame Food Network for calling every competitor on every one of their shows "chef" regardless of their professional experience.)

    A decade or more ago, I'd say that to call yourself "Chef" meant you trained professionally in culinary school, underwent painful apprenticeships and ultimately headed up a commercial or restaurant kitchen (or ran a major part of a kitchen).

    Now a days, I'll just say that if someone tells me he/she is a "chef," I have no idea what to think. At the very least, I hope they are being paid (chef denotes profession which denotes being paid/making a living doing said vocation). I don't know whether to assume they've attended culinary school or underwent any other formal training or have taken the non-traditional route in professionalizing their interest (hence the many "home cooks" who are now successful as culinarians). Or, if that person is really a line cook at a chain restaurant. I have no clue what “chef” means anymore.

    Have a great weekend, Sarah!

    1. The paid distinction is a good and important one. I know Alton Brown and many other big name cooks - use that word - cook - to describe themselves. It's in some way a humble brag - meaning they will call other people chef but call themselves a cook.

      Thanks for your thoughts!