Saturday, 19 April 2014

Chef - The Head of a Kitchen, Orchestra, Style, Etc.

A portrait of a proud chef
A proud chef indeed
(photo by Rage Krishna)


Noun. Early 19th century.
[French = head.]

A person (usually a man) who is (usually the chief) cook in a hotel, restaurant, etc.

I wasn't cut out for the culinary life. One of my first jobs was as a trainee chef, but the punishing combination of constant stress, unsociable hours and exhausting physical work meant that I quickly decided to find another career. The word can still interest me, though, even if the career doesn't - chef is French for ‘head’, is related to the word chief, and is used in a number of other French phrases that have found their way into English. A chef d’ecole, for example, is defined in the OED as ‘the initiator or leader of a school or style of music, painting, literature’, a chef-d’oeuvre is the greatest work of an artist or a masterpiece, and a chef-d’orchestre is the leader or conductor of an orchestra.

Two chefs working hard in a kitchen
Not the work for me
(photo by Matt Four)
Are you a chef of any description?

Do you know of any other cheffy expressions?

Do please serve up your most culinary comments into the box below.
(note: I'm still in the remote Romanian mountains with limited internet access - thus no pics for this post, but I'll put them in as soon as I can)


  1. Fawlty Towers skewered the perils of using the word chef brilliantly.
    Miss Gurke: I'm sorry, but do you think we could cancel our fruit salads?
    Sybil: Well, it's a little tricky, Chef's just opened the tin.

    1. Brilliant, Sally. I can't remember that line at all.

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