Amateur hour….

First off let me say that this post will most likely stir some people in the wrong way. So feel free to speak your mind but do so respectfully and with a real email address (no real one, your post goes bye-bye).
So other than the Person of Size comment, the other thing that has been bugging me is the word… chef. It seems everyone is one now, or so they think. People throw this word around a lot. But 90% of them who are throwing it around aren’t actually chefs.
Case in point. The other week when we were at a gathering, a man turns to me and says, “I heard you made the cake, it’s really good” and I replied back that “yes, I did, thank you”. He then told me, my “wife is a gourmet chef”. I said, “oh really, where does she work”? He went on to tell me that she doesn’t actually work in a kitchen that she was a stay at home mom. I told him then his wife was a gourmet cook, not a gourmet chef. The man seemed very put out. “Well, she’s really good, so she is a chef”. Ugh. *I need to clarify that this is a Foodie group. We meet up soley about food. And so, yes, he should have know the difference.
A chef is a person who cooks professionally. Professionally. Heck, I got me some pastry schooling and I don’t call myself a chef. I am an excellent baker and a good cook. That is what I am. If it annoys me I can only imagine how annoyed real chefs get.
There are a lot of blogs that use the word chef as well. I see amateur chef a lot. Because when I get a headache and I diagnose myself and give myself aspirin, I am now an amateur doctor. I stopped my rabbit from bleeding the other day when he broke off his nail, I am an amateur veterinarian. When I was using my blowtorch and my meringue caught on fire and I blew it out, that makes me an amateur firefighter. I think you see where I am going with this. Just because you cook that doesn’t make you a chef.
In non-related news my adorable hubby has been feeling a little under the weather as of late. Can’t seem to shake whatever ickys have come his way. So, me being nice, I decided to make him a treat. I am chocolate chip cookie making out so I went for brownies. My husband is a big fan of Bailey’s Irish Cream and so I thought I would throw that into the mix of some cream cheese brownies to make theme a little more special…and they are.
And with that I am off to watch a movie and practice being a amateur movie critic.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

For the Swirl:
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
¼  cup sugar
1 large egg
1 TBSP all purpose flour
2 TBSP Bailey’s Irish Cream

For the Brownies:

6 ounces sweet baking chocolate (I used semisweet), chopped
3 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
½  cup sugar
2 large eggs
½  cup all purpose flour
½  tsp baking powder
¼  tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Glaze:

4 ounces sifted powdered sugar
1 TBSP Bailey’s Irish Cream
milk to thin out (amount will vary)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 8-inch square nonstick baking pan. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in medium bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and beat until well blended. Beat in egg. Mix in flour, Irish Cream,  and vanilla. Set mixture aside.

Stir baking chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Mix in chocolate mixture and extracts. Stir in chocolate chips.
Spread half of chocolate batter (about 1 1/4 cups) in prepared pan. Using rubber spatula, spread cream cheese mixture over chocolate batter. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over top of cream cheese mixture. Using tip of knife, gently swirl through batter, forming marble design. Bake brownies until tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.
Make glaze. Combine powdered sugar and Irish cream. If too thick thin out with milk.
While still warm brush (using a pastry brush) glaze over brownies. Let sit for 15 minutes. Cut into squares.



  1. Great post. I went to Culinary School and we learned the Chef/Cook thing right away. Mostly by figuring out what we addressed our instructors.

    You rock. And really, what would we have to blog about if we didn’t have “blank” people in this world?

    Happy Movie Critiquing!

  2. I never really knew the difference. Thanks for the explanation!

  3. Being a professional sloth I’d say those brownies look good enough to be shipped to England where I could eat them while trying my hand at being an amateur movie critic from the comfort of my own sofa.

    We hear you on the chef/cook thing, even our seven year old knows the difference.

  4. I have a passion for baking and cooking. And I’d love to get paid for it someday. I’m pretty good at cuddling cats too. But that doesn’t make me a zoologist.

  5. I understand you point… i would never call myself a chef, because I don’t believe that I have the right to call myself so, eventhough I cook and bake real good. I feel that I don’t deserve that title! But, that’s my point of view…

    Your brownies look extremely good! I love Bailey’s Irish Cream!



  6. your brownies look great. The baileys irish cream makes them even more interesting.

  7. I love it when a bee flies up your bum!
    You are absolutely right.
    A chef is a qualification and very hard work to boot.
    I would get annoyed if someone said they were a nurse just because they applied a Bandaid to a skinned knee.
    Although I take my movie critic role seriously! What did you go see?
    Hope the hubby gets over the lurgies soon. Those brownies look like good medicine.

  8. Hehehe! My opinion – we mothers can call ourselves “amateur” everything – vet, doc, firefighters and even chef. We slip into any role that is required. Seriously though I see where you are coming from and yes it would bug me too.

    I love the sound of these brownies and they are anything but amateur!

  9. I always knew the difference between a chef and a cook. We’re all good cooks in our family, but we are by no means chefs :)

  10. I whole heartedly agree with you.

    The boy is going to Culinary school, and he said that even after he has his degree, he will not be considered a ‘chef’.

    You have to work years and years and years in the industry before you can be called ‘chef’.

  11. I definitely agree with you. There is a difference between a cook an a chef. Something that I get all the time is people assume I am a tax expert. I am an auditor and a CPA. I do not do anything with taxes. I took two tax classes in college and that it he extent of my tax knowledge. If that makes me qualified to be your go to tax person I guess I can be your lawyer too because I took 2.5 semester of law courses :)

  12. I never call myself a chef or a baker – I’m just VeggieGirl :-D

    The photos of those brownies are mesmerizing!!

  13. Irish Cream in Brownies..I am there. I would have to say that a chef is someone who has had training and has a diploma to say so:D That makes me a good cook, but that makes me happy:D

  14. Just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, I read the same sort of post over at Tigers and Strawberries a bit back and something about it rang false then and your post clarified it for me. It’s when you compare being an amateur chef to being an amateur firefighter or an amateur veterinarian. Now, there are courses to take and tests to pass in order to become a doctor or firefighter whereas being a chef is more akin to being a painter or a photographer or an athlete. You can speak of amateur hockey players or amateur photographers–someone who lacks formal training, perhaps, and is not recompensed for their work. The majority of marathon runners in the world are amateurs, dabblers, dilettantes. I don’t think any running coach or hockey player’s union or photographer’s guild is going to be up in arms about that. In the same vein, there are multiple routes to becoming a professional chef–that is to say, one who heads a kitchen.
    I would assume that the etymology of “chef” is akin to that of the English “chief” in which case the only person who could be a true chef would in fact be the head of the kitchen and perhaps the sous-chef.
    That said, your distinction between chef and cook is a valid one. If everyone used cook to mean non-professional and chef to mean professional, that would be dandy–except, what about the line-cooks? That might be a snub to them. OK, obviously I was being flippant there but in all seriousness, I don’t agree that it’s an issue of grave disrespect to confuse the terms.
    If a professional chef is one who creates and tests and sends out recipes and is also one who runs a kitchen–well, I happen to head my own kitchen mighty well. I write and test original recipes. Under the circumstances, within my home setting, I could say I’m the chef of the house–or le chef de la maison, if I’m feeling punchy. I cook dinner for my friends–I could perhaps call myself a non-profit chef. It’s all semantics and I would hope that any chef worth their salt would understand that being a chef is as much art and skill as schooling and thus, there can be such a thing as an amateur–someone dedicated to their craft, someone who practices cooking but who doesn’t get paid to do it. Those people deserve the title chef for their spirit and contribution to the kitchen–even if it is only their own family who benefits.
    Maybe we ought to nix the intimidation factor of the c-word and celebrate the fact that all of us have the capacity to be chefs–to source and buy our ingredients; to change recipes to accommodate everyone’s needs; to survive without a dish washer or a sous-chef when it’s dinner-time and everyone is hungry; to run our little kitchens with their temperamental stoves and still have time for a life outside it.

  15. Wahoo… Somebody else who agrees with me. I went to culinary school, have the degree, but I don’t use the word chef. I no longer work professionally in a Kitchen. And even if I did, I wouldn’t be called chef, If your not in charge of the menu, the kitchen, the ordering, etc. Your not the chef. Period end of topic.
    Doctors aren’t doctors, without years of schooling and degrees. Would make since that the same would apply in the Culinary world.

    Good for you Im glad you can cook for your family of 4, 6, 8, 1 what ever. But when you can spend 12 + hours in a kitchen that is 100 degrees, cooking for 100 plus, of the worlds most pickie people, then well talk.
    watch Food Network People how many people are actually called CHEF on there. Everybody else is just a cook. And there ok with that.

    One of my Favorite books, covers this topics too. Anthony Burdaine’s Kitchen Confidential.
    Awesome book.

    Oh gosh, this topic send me into a total rant, as you can see.

    Love your recipes. Awesome, Awesome, Awesome. makes me want to start baking again.


  16. LOl sorry about that. Not you as in you (peabody) But you as in You (the at home cook who goes on and on about being a chef of x many). My rant gets away with me sometimes.


  17. Well said! And the brownies look delicious.

  18. I totally agree about the distinction between cook/chef and also hate hearing “chef” thrown around like that! brownies look delish. :)

  19. Brilliant!

  20. The whole “chef” thing is confusing to me. While I agree with your sentiments about how it’s used by cooks, I recently am trying to understand a person I met a few months ago who calls himself a chef. Just like you, I asked him where he works/went to school and he said, “Oh, I didn’t go to school and I’m not working for anyone. I work for myself and have learned by just cooking in the kitchen at a young age with my family.” Now this friend makes a living teaching folks how to cook Indian cuisine and I think caters for folks on the side. I was reminded of this friend last night when I saw him on our local TV news and his cooking classes were being highlighted. He wears chef gear and goes about his classes professionally, but with his lack of professional education and no professional kitchen experience, can he really call himself Chef X? IMO, I don’t think it’s approriate to use the term chef in this scenario. Blah… but that’s just me. Hwoever on a sweeter note, your brownies look fabulous and I’ll have to keep this in mind when I’ll have some Irish Cream on hand in the next few weeks!

  21. Again, I agree with you on the wording thing. Just because someone decides that they’re going to call themselves a chef doesn’t mean they’ve actually earned that title. That’s like me saying I’m a psychologist, even though I’m just an undergrad studying psych…I’m pretty sure that the APA would not be happy about that at all.
    I don’t know how you manage to make something even more delicious-looking than the last thing. I made the snickerdoodle blondies and thought those were tremendous, but now I think I need these…

  22. You make a great point. I think many professions deal with this issue and it is insulting to people who have actually gone through schooling for whatever field and have someone with 5 minutes of knowledge think they know as much. In fairness to the husband you met, it sounds like his use of the term was meant as endearing to his wife and his pride in her skills. Used that way, I would cut him a break!

  23. Margaux Patel says:

    I never knew that Chef was the professional title, but I totally agree and understand your sentiments. As a Librarian, it drives me up the wall when people call themselves librarians just because they happen to work in a library but never went to school and got their Masters in library science. I worked hard and am still paying off loans so I get the title, they don’t.

    BTW – I can’t wait to try these out. My tries at your recipes never look as pretty as your photos though :)

  24. I’m with you sister on the chef thing. I wonder why it is that people need to inflate everything? What’s wrong with being a great cook?

    Sounds like this guy just didn’t really know the difference though and was just proud of his wife. Maybe it was just a need to make a connection with you during the conversation. See, look, my wife’s really great too! Who knows. I’d be pretty annoyed too over the chef thing but would try and remember it all started with a compliment to me! ;-)

  25. I agree with you 100%. I always correct people right away when they call me a chef. I’m a cook or a baker, but not a chef.

  26. Good point…I’m a nurse (RN) and I hear a lot of nurse’s aides call them nurses as well. Oh yeah…where did you go to school? Sorta the same thing, I guess. I’m definitely just a cook. Sporadic at that :P

  27. It is possible to be right and not right at the same time. I think you have accomplished this.

    You may have been right that the man was using an incorrect term. You are right on a technicality.

    As a communicator, I think you were incorrect. He was trying to communicate something to you in a social – not professional or academic setting. He was saying that he liked your cake and was proud of his wife in one fell swoop. No one likes to be called out in public on their grammar or word usage, and he likely felt stupid when you corrected him. It was insensitive on your part. Was he overreacting by seeming put out by your comment? Perhaps, but it is human nature to do so. I will give him a bye on it.
    To what end was the correction made then? Is his world view going to change because he now knows better than to say chef when he really means cook? Is the world a better place for him and his family? Does he even know enough about the nuance between the two words to care?

    You had an opportunity to make a real social connection, but instead it went another way.
    It sounds like you backed off right away, but I think in the big scheme of communication it would have been nice if his comment would have been accepted for the intended meaning in the first place.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t post about the difference between the words on your blog. It makes for a compelling vent for you and others that care about the difference. For people wanting to communicate solely on the meaning of words and their butchering, it makes for a nice time.

  28. I am 100% with you on this. People like to prop themselves up more than they’ve earned all the time (for whatever reason – insecurity or delusions of grandeur). I call it like I see it. You’re a 100% professional badass, and I like it that way!!

  29. Heh, I would be annoyed too. :)

  30. I totally agree with you. “Master Chef” is the term I really rate hearing get misused. It’s like saying you have a PHD in physics when you really are just a regular BSC scientist – it’s a misrepresentation. The sad thing is that people don’t know they are undermining a huge and difficult professional accomplishment when they say that kind of thing. Your post helps to educate people so that the people who have gained such levels of skill get the respect they deserve.

  31. I’m going to disagree. Chef is shorthand for chief of the kitchen. It is a job. There are technically only three professions: the law, the church and education. I don’t get upset about people referring to themselves as professional drivers. There is a tendency to equate a job with a paid position, regardless of whether or not the job needs to be paid for to be done. Most jobs and positions that exist by nature of a person’s relationship or actions. Chef is one of them. Maitre d’hotel is a title which specifically requires a paid position. Doctor is one which requires certain education and certification. One can be a doctor without working in the field, for instance.

    I’m not convinced that respect is either preserved or damaged by referring to a non-paid chef as a chef. It disturbs me, actually, that our society seems to equate work or education with value and prestige.

  32. I agree with you, it’s a matter of experience to be able to call yourself one or the other, but I don’t think it’s bad to *only* be called a cook. I actually have a similar issue with people calling themselves photographers. My husband is a professional photographer, he gets paid to do it and is extremely good at it. Anymore anyone can buy a camera and snap some pictures and start calling themselves a photographer and it really detracts from those who have the experience (and possibly the education, though not always) from being a professional.

  33. This gave me a lol, and is a classic case of people taking themselves WAY too seriously.

    Also, when somebody misuses the word “chef” I assume they don’t know a whole lot about the industry, which makes me think: how professional can they really be?

    That said, I don’t want to be a chef. In the official sense, it’s a relationship to food completely divorced from mine, and doesn’t even describe the meals I make for family and friends.

  34. Having watched many episodes of Top Chef, I have learned that “Chef” is a title earned by a professional. I just like to call myself “Amateur Kitchen Goddess” – it covers all sorts of fun things.

  35. Well I know you can relate to this: I always found it interesting that in spite of the education and training I received to become a teacher, all others felt that since they’d sat in classrooms for 13 years, they knew what it took to teach and therefore figured it was all about having summers off. Right. And I have swamp land for sale in Florida. Grrr….But I’m sure one of those brownies would calm me down. Definitely.

  36. Those brownies look amazing! I love how you just whipped them up:)

  37. I have probably tongue in cheek referred to myself as “chief chef” within my household. However if I address myself as to what I am in real life outside my home it is as an edible cook and baker. If someone asks what an edible cook is I reply with “I cook things and they are almost always edible” :D


  38. Unless of course you’re in the movie Ratatouille, then you can be a “little chef” just by being a rat, learning to read, having a passion for cooking, and being able to control a gangly redhead by pulling his hair…

    I see both points, but I definitely lean towards the side that pays their dues and gets the training they need… it isn’t about “status and education” it’s more about qualifications and experience.

  39. I can’t stop staring at these brownies! They look delicious. I agree with you about the chef thing :)

  40. Ranee, chef is a professional designation. To be one you need to be an apprentice, gather hours of experience under an accredited chef and then write a formal exam. It’s a trade that is governed by an overseeing association just like other professions such as engineer, a lawyer or a doctor.

  41. pea…i agree…i’m a home cook/baker, not a chef. plus, maybe the recognition of chef should come from somewhere other than yourself (or very close inner circle…husband, mom, etc…) maybe this is disagreeable, but i’m just sayin.

    these brownies look amazing! i love the addition of bailey’s in the cream cheese…yum!

  42. Hahaha i laughed out loud at you, an amateur doctor, prescribing yourself an aspirin. I ♥ your blog, you are so funny!

    Dietitians have a similar title problem. There is no protection of the term “nutritionist”, so you can declare that you are one after reading a few Prevention magazines. Where as a real nutritionist, a dietitian, has 5+ years of post-secondary education. Grrrr to nutritionists…

    But yummm to your brownies!

  43. you’d have to be an idiot to not know the difference between chef & cook, and obviously he was. I would have said, like I always say “whatever dude, whhhhhatever!”
    I still think you should drop your doctor…. :-)

  44. I work in a kitchen at a well-known University, and I don’t think I’m a Chef. Technically, my current title would be ‎Cuisinier (Line Cook), with my particular divisions being Grillardin/Friturier (Grill Chef/Fry Chef) — I used to be a ‎Garde Manger (Pantry Chef), and still do that job occasionally. But I wouldn’t call myself a Chef, as I have had no ‎formal training, or even previous on-the-job training before taking this position — I don’t personally think I’ve had ‎enough experience to be called a Chef. Those with positions above mine (i.e. the people I report to) are called ‎Chefs (Kitchen Chef, Floor Chef, Head Chef, etc.), but everyone else at my level are called cooks. (Actually, the ‎University calls us Kitchen Associates, but in conversation, we’re cooks.) Some of the other cooks have graduated ‎from culinary school, but the majority of us have not.
    In my opinion, Chef is something that you shouldn’t call yourself unless it’s your job title — then you can answer the ‎‎’What do you do?’ question with ‘I’m a Chef at ____.’ If someone obtained a position as a Chef without any training ‎‎(e.g. if I were promoted to Kitchen Chef at the University), I definitely think they’d have earned the title, since they’d ‎obviously have to have a certain amount of talent to obtain such a position with no formal training. The tricky part is ‎people who don’t currently have a position as a Chef — if they’ve had a previous position as a Chef and are looking ‎for another, or are retired from the profession, they can call themselves a Chef. But if they’ve never held a position ‎as Chef, they shouldn’t call themselves a Chef.
    Now, if people are joking around and it’s obvious that you don’t mean the person is an *actual* Chef, then go ahead ‎and call yourself or your acquaintances whatever you want. But to try to pass yourself off as a Chef when you’re ‎not, that’s bad form.‎

  45. Thank you for clarifying the distinction. You’re absolutely right. Sometimes people say to ME that I’m a gourmet chef, and I always demur, no, no, I am just a good cook. But I’m glad to now have the official response.

  46. Yeah I see now how that can be annoying. I see chef plastered on everyone’s site. I never looked at it that way, so thanks for keeping us informed!

    Now about those brownies… The swirls in that photo give me heart palpitations. They look oh so delicious! Too bad I don’t have any Bailey’s. :(

  47. I agree 100%. A chef is someone who goes to school and is classically trained. A cook or a baker, no matter how good, will never be a chef unless they have the training. Good to know others feel the same.

    And the brownies sound insanely delicious right now. :)

  48. I honestly don’t htink people know the difference. i think they think they “cook” really well so they give themselves a boost. I would never call myself a chef, because that is a profession (not a hobby) and I don’t have the qualifications to do so.

    And as annying as Rachael Ray can be, she always says, “I am not a chef. I am a cook” and I give her props for that.

  49. I’m so glad you posted this! I can’t believe there are still people in the world who use the term incorrectly or don’t understand the distinction. I think it is pretty obvious. I guess that is why they stereotype women as cooks and men as chefs. Ugh. I hate that one, too.

  50. Sorry Me Adorable is feeling poorly…these brownies should help. Maybe I should feel poorly and then make me some:)
    Bet you make a dandy amatuer movie critic!


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