” Why are chefs so poorly compensated? “

Wow folks, this discussion is really heating up !

Arno Wilson says :

Hi Patrick, maybe I come across a bit severe. But this is my feeling. Cooking food throughout history has been a low level activity and whilst everybody since we can tell has always enjoyed a “good feed” it remains a fact that the kitchen has been relegated “out the back” downstairs” or otherwise “out of sight”. As much as people these modern times try to glorify cooking it remains an act of applying heat to dead things – usually animals or other creatures. It is the art of transforming dead animal flesh and in some cases organs into something else that appeals to the modern sense of beauty.
I am a chef myself and have worked in many different arenas of food production. I have been Executive chef, Head chef, and all other positions in Australian kitchens. I have acted as a restaurant consultant and am versed in management techniques and financial aspects. In the course of my work I see many chefs I now run a chefs agency finding work for other chefs. Many chefs are pretty clueless and some are downright dumb. A smattering are excellent and could be successful in any occupation. A small number are outstanding individuals with admirable skills and ability and intelligence. I am sorry but the average run of the mill chef that crosses my radar is more commonly described in less flattering terms.
If you have any specific questions I would be happy to answer them.

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6 comments

  1. Absolutely well stated! What must be defined though is the term “Chef” A hotel executive chef for a 600 – thousand room hotel or cruise line, are clearly head and above shoulders in intellect, talent and experience than the person who states they are a Chef in a restuarant, or for that matter people who call themselves “Chefs’ when they ar merely line cooks with the title “Chef” Those hotel or cruise line executive chefs are generally better compensated owing to their experiences, an talents.

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    1. So brian what I am gathering from your comment is that people like Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, and Marco Pier White are a lesser chef to yourself? How would you explain your ideology on this as they all own or have owned very successful RESTAURANTS. Just because they work in restaurants does not make them your subordinate. These are all very inteligent chefs whos restaurants serve hundreds of people a day. I would realy be interested to find out what makes them a lesser chef than yourself.

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  2. The funny thing is the “better” the chef the more likely he is to be gradually removed from “cooking” and shunted into management. In this area he is now performing the same or similar jobs to many others in the management team. We see the same tendency in education where the best teachers become leaders then managers and the ultimate ascendancy is the seat in the Principals office where they gradually turn into “shiny bums”. Nothing could be further removed from “teaching”. So many chefs I know aspire to be F and B Managers, or Kitchen Managers or or in some cases hotel managers ( quite a few of them). So where does the passion go that so many speak of?

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