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(Oct 11, 2020) Can I call myself a chef, even if I didn't attend culinary school?

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If you're having confidence issues calling yourself a chef, consider the fact that there is no mention of culinary school in these definitions.

  • Oxford Dictionary, "a professional cook"
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "a skilled cook who manages the kitchen"

Did you know that these celebrity chefs did not attend culinary school?

  • Gordon Ramsay
  • Ina Garten
  • Guy Fieri
  • Martha Stewart
  • Ree Drummond
  • Rachel Ray
  • Tom Colicchio
  • Lidia Bastianich
  • Mario Batali

I honestly get more negative feedback on this statement than any other content I share. Chefs who have attended culinary schools get offended and will send messages stating that culinary school chefs worked hard to get to where they are and it's insulting for just anyone to call themselves a chef.

I didn't say "just anyone" could call themselves a chef. Also, do you think that the people on that list above didn't work hard to get to where they're at?

Culinary school is not the only place to receive a kitchen education. You could have grown up in a family that owned a restaurant. You may have been mentored since you were sixteen in a restaurant and now hold years of experience.

Gordon Ramsey learned how to cook by working under other chefs and now has 35 restaurants and 7 Michelin stars. Tom Colicchio taught himself to cook, never went to culinary school, and has five James Beard awards. Mario Batali started culinary school, but never finished. There are a dozen ways to gain experience and knowledge without attending culinary school.

Culinary schools do not own the term "chef." A chef is a person who cooks professionally. There is no occupational board regulating the use of the term as in a a doctor or attorney. 

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It's wonderful to see perspectives on how others run their personal chef business. If you'd like to share your personal chef journey, I'd be honored to have you as the next guest post. [email protected]

If you aren't yet on the list to be notified when Personal Chef Business in 10 Weeks is available, get on the list here.

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