Chef vs. Cook: Is There a Difference Between the Two?

To many people, a chef and a cook are the same. They think the word chef is a synonym of the word cook. This isn’t the case. Those who know that these two differ tend to use them interchangeably. A cook and chef work in the same environment but they have different roles and skills. Here is all you need to know about a chef and a cook: their similarities and their difference.

Who is a Cook?

A cook is a person who prepares food for consumption in restaurants. A cook is a beginner in the career of food production. He/she has less experience and has not received any academic qualifications in the food production industry. A cook is an upcoming chef, with time he/she gains the required experience to become a chef.

Who is a Chef?

A chef is a professional cook or a head cook. A chef has experience in all aspects of food preparation. He or she is the head of the kitchen. A chef has received training from institutions and also apprenticing with other professional chefs.

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How a Cook Differs From a Chef?


Apart from academics qualifications, a chef and a cook perform different tasks. A chef has the skills to do all that a cook can do but a cook can’t be able to do all that a chef can do. We have specialized chefs but we don’t have specialized cooks. Below the different roles of each:

Roles of a Cook

  • Setting up workstations with all needed cooking equipment and ingredients.
  • Preparing ingredients to be used in cooking such as peeling and chopping of vegetables and cutting meat.
  • Cook food following someone else’s recipe and menu plan.
  • Checking food while cooking to stir or turn.
  • Ensuring all food and other items in the kitchen are stored properly.
  • Checking the quality of the ingredients.
  • Keeping track of stock and placing orders when there are shortages.
  • Cleaning and keeping the kitchen in order.

Roles of a Chef

  • Supervising and coordinating all activities in the kitchen.
  • Developing recipes.
  • Monitoring and training cooks.
  • Inspect equipment, supplies, and working area for functionality and cleanliness.
  • Ordering and keeping inventories of food and other supplies.
  • Monitoring the sanitation practices.
  • Checking the freshness of foods and ingredients.
  • Creating and implementing menus in a restaurant setting.


A cook can be a household staff who prepares food and manages the kitchen staff. A chef is on the other hand likely to be heading a team of cooks in a restaurant or a hotel. There are different types of chefs depending on the type of food they prepare and their role in the kitchen but we don’t have specific types of cooks.

The common types of chefs are Sauce Chefs, Grill chefs, Fish chefs, Fry chefs, Vegetable chefs, Soup chefs, and Pantry chefs. A chef is also more independent while a cook is dependent on orders from the chef or follows given recipes to cook since he/she lacks experience.

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