Good Food Blog
Home cooks vs chefsPosted at 11:48AM, 01 April 2008 by Mary Cadogan - Food writer
What's the difference between chef's food and home cooking? Well the main difference as I see it is that chefs are professional cooks working in a restaurant kitchen and have a brigade working with them. Home cooks usually go it alone, or get the odd helping hand from their partners or kids.
So when a chef designs a dish, he or she is safe in the knowledge that much of the chopping, prepping, sauce-making, spud bashing etc will be done by one of the kitchen team. A main course could have as many as 30 elements to make up what lands up on the plate. That's why trying to emulate restaurant cooking at home is incredibly tiring, time consuming and perhaps a bit crazy.
Restaurant dishes are plated up, sauced and garnished before they are presented to the customer. Have you ever tried doing this for a dinner party of eight and managed to get the food to the table without feeling as if you've run a marathon? It's great to challenge yourself occasionally by following a Gary Rhodes or Gordon Ramsay recipe from start to finish, but home cooking is a different sort of skill and a really worthwhile one - and one I feel is often overlooked on cookery shows.
A home cook must shop for, prepare and cook meals day after day, get the food on the table while it is hot, cater for everyone's tastes and usually do all the washing up to boot. All this after a hard day's work, and at the same time check homework, answer the telephone and doorbell while mentally writing out yet another shopping list.
Home baking techniques are also skills home cooks have honed over the years, unlike chefs who tend to avoid this part of cookery.
A home cook must be always on the lookout for something different to tempt the family (that's where Good Food mag and this website comes in handy) and keep a keen eye on what's in season, what's healthy and within the constraints of a weekly budget. These are amazingly valuable but much underrated skills. I'd love to see a cookery show that celebrates the talents of us home cooks instead of trying to make us all into chefs.