January 28, 2022

What’s the Difference Between a Chef and a Cook?

Whether they are wearing a professional chef coat and toque (the tall hats worn by professionals) or simply a cook shirt under their apron, we see them all in the same light. However, did you know that in the culinary world there is a big difference between the two designations?


For one thing, the uniform that they wear is vastly different. A Chef dressed in his professional uniform of a Chef coat and pants and tall Toque commands the respect and honor that his experience and expertise bring. The Head Chef will usually have the tallest hat, and its height will reduce as they go down the line, while a cook may simply wear a skull cap or beanie to cover their head, and a kitchen shirt rather than the usual double-breasted jacket. Hence to most laymen like us, the only difference we see between the two are the hat and the clothing, even though the actual differences go far deeper into their skills and experience.


Usually, a Chef is someone who has finished culinary school and gained many years of experience, and a cook is someone who either simply enjoys cooking (possibly a home cook or something similar) or is still in culinary school and is learning the ropes, or are probably still apprenticing under a professional. In the hierarchy of the kitchen a cook is considered a lower rank than a chef, which is why they do not get to wear the tall hat and Chef coats and are simply attired in cook shirts and beanies.


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