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Sound Off: Definition of 'chef'

What schooling does a person need to legitimately call himself or herself a chef?

The term chef is a job title rather than an indicator of completing a certain level of schooling — though many chefs do have formal culinary training. A chef, in short, is the head of a kitchen, explains Thomas Macrina, national president for the American Culinary Federation. He said chefs may work in restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, school cafeterias and more. “Today, a chef wears multiple hats and in many different segments of the industry,” Macrina said. “A chef must have extensive knowledge of cooking, menu development, sanitation, purchasing, supervision and mentoring. Chefs’ roles have also expanded, and they are expected to be knowledgeable about nutrition, food allergies and business. With growing labor and food costs, it now necessary for chefs to find efficient and affordable solutions to exceed customer’s expectations, from purchasing the best quality food at a reasonable price to running an establishment efficiently.”

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