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. Sorry Mr 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!

  2. If a man wants to say his wife is a chef, than leave it at that. You yourself know the difference between chefs and cooks, maybe he doesn’t know, or maybe he does but feels so proud of her that he places her on the esteemed pedestal of “chef”. I think it was a bit snooty to have to correct the poor “non”-chef’s husband. Degrees can make people such elitists. I should know, I have a degree in Anthropology and I’m so much better than all those people who say they went to college but never graduated! Ha! I’m not hating on you, I just think you’re getting yourself worked up over someone’s misuse of a title. Life goes on….

  3. Heck yea there’s a difference! For years I was a BOH [Back of the House]Manager and let me tell you, there are “chefs” and then there are “line cooks”. And trust me, there’s a huge difference between those two as well. I am glad you posted this because it needed to be address. Thanks a bunch Peabody! :)

    PS brownies look divine!

  4. I have been to school and had worked in kitchens for about ten years…the closest I’d get to referring to myself as a chef is in my handle. Chefhades. When hell freezes over I’ll refer to myself as a chef. No Red Seal = no chef title. My family calls me a chef, but I don’t think it’s true and I correct them all the time. I was a great line cook, but no chef am I!
    Good lookin’ brownies though.

  5. Absolutely delicious!!! Yummy!! =)

  6. Agree.
    I am a professional mommy though-have the grey hairs to prove it.

  7. I’m in complete agreement! The difference between chef and cook is right up there between the difference between baking adn cooking–fundamental difference! OY, is all I have to say.

    In other news, these Bailey’s Brownies look divine! Can’t wait to try these yummy treats.

  8. UGH I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! I can’t stand it. I was once introduced to the executive chef of one of the top restaurants in DC as “a chef” and I was mortified! I quickly corrected the person who had introduced me, saying to the REAL chef “No, no, no, I just cook at home.” That word is thrown around too easily!

  9. These look fantastic — perhaps I’ll send these to work with DH for St. Patrick’s Day!

  10. These look so decadent and delicious. I love Bailey’s with chocolate…err, with anything. I’m cracking up at being an amateur doctor. Hah.

  11. My dad graduated from the California Culinary Academy and is still very quick to correct people when they call him “chef” because he know he isn’t, since he doesn’t work in food service! Thanks for setting others straight! Those brownies are next on the list for family dessert! :)

  12. Hahahhahaha. This post cracked me up.

    Those brownies look delicious. I think they’d be perfect at my annual St. Patrick’s Day party in a month!

  13. Amen sister! I am so annoyed with everyone who has a microplane referring to themselves as a chef. They have NO idea what it takes to work in a professional kitchen as a chef.

    I would LOVE for them to work just one shift in my restaurant and see if they still think they are a ‘chef’.

    And for that matter, people who did actually go to culinary school and flaunt their title are equally obnoxious. Really, your email address and Facebook name don’t need to say “ChefJoe Smith”.

    I went to pastry school and my title is chef. To me, it is a badge of honor…just like the scars and burn marks on my forearms. I have spent countless hours in the trenches, sweating my brains out to make beautiful pastries for the ‘amateur chefs’ waiting to take pictures, dissect and critique it in the dining room.

    And you know what…when people ask what I do I say I’m a cook. Because I’m humble. Because I report to a head chef. Because I respect the bigger, better, more experienced chefs before me. I hope to one day know as much as they do. But even then my email address isn’t going to be “chef chrissy”

  14. I love this. One I completely agree that title is thrown around way to much. And I love these brownies they look really good!

  15. I completely understand your frustration Peabody… I feel the same thing when people refer to themselves as “xxxxx engineer.” It just torques me a little after all the school (and day-long tests) I went through. Heck, most of the time when people ask me what I do, I tell them that I break things for a living. Which is true, and gets me out of the “YOU’RE an engineer?!?” awkwardness.

  16. Bailey’s Irish Cream in brownies? What a novel idea! My husband would love this! Definitely a recipe I have to try. (By the way—hope yours feels better soon!)

    I agree with your thoughts on the whole chef/cook thing. People who use words and titles should at the least understand the definition of them.

  17. Those brownies look “oh, so tasty”.
    The chef/cook terminology really bothers me. I’ve had people tell me they are chefs because they like to search books and prepare gourmet meals for their families. As for myself, I am a caterer but still consider myself simply a good cook as I’ve never had any professional training. I have always thought along the same lines as your “amateur doctor” idea. Just because I try to do it doesn’t give me the license or title.
    I love your blog; you really crack me up sometimes.

  18. Oh man, I think it’s hilarious that the word chef has somehow become synonymous with cooking. As many other people have mentioned above, chef and sous-chef are just titles that refer to a chain of command. Old school kitchen brigades are a lot like the miltary in that sense, but of course, over time, the titles have been bastardized. Chef is French for “chief”, meaning the person in charge, so even most professional cooks aren’t chefs. As for the phrase “amateur chef”, it’s almost laughable- what does it even mean?
    Of course, I discovered long ago in my career that people get kinda bitchy when I explain the meaning of the word and tell them I’m a cook, not the chef. So these days when people call me a chef, I just give them a wry smile and ask them how their meal was.
    I’m not gonna lie though, I hate, HATE, hate it when elderly people refer to me as “chef-ette”. Ughhh. Really? It’s 2009.
    Btw, the brownies look awesome- I heart Bailey’s and chocolate!

  19. Gorgeous swirl on the brownies. They look delightful!

  20. I’m at work and I just literally laughed out loud. My favorite part was about the amatuer veterinarian. Great post. I agree. I am NOT a chef.

  21. I called 911 today to report that a branch was sparking against some electric wires. I didn’t get paid for it so I’m just an amateur fire prevention citizen. (It was fun. I’d never called 911 before!)

    The brownies look great!

  22. I agree with you! People throw that word around WAY too loosely. And your brownies look scrumptious – I love anything Bailey’s!

  23. Totally!! I wasn’t actually able to be referred to as a ‘pastry chef’ until I was creating menus and running the pastry kitchen. And this was after working in the industry for 8 years. Up until then, I was a ‘baker’ or ‘pastry cook’. The same thing goes for my co-workers on the savory side. They are cooks. Not chefs. While they are cooking profesionally, there is only one chef (well, theres 2 at my joint, but you get my drift).

  24. I totally agree with you!

    Those brownies look and sound scrumptious!

  25. I agree – I went to culinary school, and I’m not even sure I would call myself a chef!

  26. If I had been in your shoes and someone had said to me, “My wife is a great chef,” I also would have asked, “Oh really? Where does she work?” It’s a shame that a bit of confusion over proper terminology resulted in miscommunication & an awkward social situation. I feel for you!

    I like to cook. I like to bake. But just because I’m in charge of the menu at my home kitchen, that definitely doesn’t make me a chef.

    Now I hope you’ll pardon me, but I have some brownies to make!

  27. I take issue with calling everyone a “chef,” too. I make sure to correct anyone who calls me that as well, because I really am just a cook, as much as I wish I could assume the title.

    But anyway, the brownies look wonderful, coming from a chef or not. :)

  28. I completely agree with you. I work as a personal “chef” and I hate calling myself that because even though it is part of my profession I am new to it and have not gone to culinary school. So to me I cannot call myself a “chef” until I have had some more training, experience and work. It seems weird to say personal “cook” though, that makes me sound like a servant!

  29. Me thinks many of these “controversial” posts are merely a ploy to get more comments!

  30. Oh I am feeling so poorly, maybe hubby has left one of those for me. Why am I feeling so poorly? Why because I haven’t had any of these brownies.

    I’m very comfortable with your ‘chef’ and totally happy when I score as a good cook.

  31. You forgot something – when you picked up that blow torch, you were an amateur welder. :-)
    Hope the hubby feels better soon.

  32. Great Post, Peabody! Loved it! I love all your posts, but this one strikes a particular cord with me because I deal with a similar situation almost every day. Instead of misuse of chef and cook, I deal with the misuse of interior designer and interior decorator. I am in a ranting mood, so here’s a lesson for everyone- if you attended a university (a 2 or 4 year), obtained a degree in interior design, served under a licensed interior designer for the required amount of time (for me it was 3 years because my university was not accredited), paid your fee and sat for the national exam (NCIDQ), passed the test, applied for your license and then received your license, applied and paid for professional membership with the appropriate organization THEN you can call yourself an interior designer. If you have not earned the credentials listed above then you are a DECORATOR. I watch TLC and HGTV occasionally and I wonder…are these peeps really designers? Really? I have my doubts. Because the requirements of interior design are drilled into my head I am extremely careful of what to call professionals and people who wish they were professionals. Chefs have earned that title through schooling and restaurant experience. They have earned their stripes. Cooks are, well, you and me and all the non professional food bloggers out there who may have some raw talent, but really don’t have the creds to call ourselves chefs. Hope your hubby is feeling better soon.

  33. Hey Peabody,
    Nice meeting you last night! Don’t worry about me throwing around highfalutin titles–I can barely call myself a “cook” and it’s my last name… Love the swirls in your brownies!


  34. Hee! I guess typing in this little box would make me a journalist..
    Great looking brownies! I love Baileys.

  35. Ooh, what a hot topic this is! I love reading the comments. My two cents – I think the c word means different things to different people. To those in the restaurant industry it has a very specific meaning applied to a specific person in the kitchen hierarchy. Those who just enjoy cooking at home and don’t know the industry terms, perhaps think it just means good cook.

    Best wishes to your hub. If Bailey’s Irish can’t cure what ails him, call me. I’m an amateur doctor. (But everything I prescribe is tea.)

  36. I couldn’t agree with you more, P. I paint, but I don’t call myself an artist. If anything, I call myself a FAILED artist, but hey. I take/have taken some art classes in college and I am not going to lie – I am usually top in the class and you are suprised to see the ones who call themselves artists and have all the expensive supplies and all that – are the ones that really aren’t that good. I think its just about people WANTING a title for themselves. If I was a stay at home mom (and I am sure you would agree that unless you have 5 kids and blah blah blah you really don’t have much to do ALL day long)(usually women like that are the ones rushing all over town in their HUGE SUVs trying to stay busy so they dont have time to think about how worthless they are)(I never want to be one of these people) and you just had time to bake and cook and waste time doing that then instead of calling yourself a bored stay at home mom who spends my husbands money you might want a fancy title of chef instead. I suppose. Who knows. Either way, its pretty disrespectful to the real Chefs who have worked in the field and gone to school – all of which is not easy (and something that I never would want to put myself through). To get more into it would be pointless because, again, I agree. I wouldn’t call the girls who text while walking on the treadmill fitness experts thats for sure.

  37. Oh you and my husband need to get together to discuss the use of “doctor” as he is not fond of the fact that just because someone got a PHD in something gives them the Doctor title. I will never be a chef but I do strive to be a great cook. Now can I have a brownie?

  38. Touchy subject for some. I’m an ‘ex-chef’ I guess, or does that make me a cook? ;)
    You know what I think happens? People love to label others, put them in a box so to speak, and if someone calls you a chef long enough, well you’re going to adopt the title eventually.

  39. There were to many comments to read them all…. wow some are really aggitated. I can’t understand that anybody who cooks at home finds it that important to call him/herself ‘Chef’, I mean there’s nothing wrong with ‘just’ being a very good cook. But really a “Chef” is a Chef that works in a prof. kitchen. The work there has no comparison with cooking at home for your family or a gathering of friends, who love you and praise you… they won’t complain, they don’t pay, they can wait if you’re not on time. You’re not standing in a noisy, hot and hectic environment for hours on end, prepping, cooking different meals at the same time, having them all ready at the right point. There is no comparison anyway except both stir and make something to eat.

    Please people don’t feel ashamed to ‘just’ call your self a good cook (gourmet cook if you’re in a funny mood), but put yourself somewhere you’re not by calling yourself a chef when you’re cooking at home.

  40. That last sentence should have been… But don’t put yourself….

  41. i so totally agree with you! i graduated from culinary school, have worked in restaurants and bakeries for the past five years, and even i would still not call myself a “pastry chef” at this point. when my husband tells people i am a pastry chef, i even correct him, and say i’m just a cook, since i’ve never headed up my own team or designed my own menu.

  42. I am soooo with you on this! People tend to think I am a touch anal, but that is nuthin’ but truth you speak!

  43. I wasn’t going to comment on this post as it is “old news”, I guess, but I was reading some of the last comments and I’m wondering why some people are showing so much hatred? Especially the reader who commented about stay-at-home moms being worthless and “needing” to attach a title to what they do. Perhaps it isn’t so gratifying to stay at home and do all the house work and take care of all the meals and make sure that homework is done and having to make sacrifices (ie:one income only) to be with your kids and enjoy every precious moment. And yes, when you are a good cook, and most of your time is spent cooking and baking, all the while juggling everything else, and someone compliments you and calls you a “chef”, perhaps it is flattering and you use the term, not wanting to offend anyone. It’s already so hard in a world with such materialistic values to choose to be a stay-at-home mom and really do the “mom thing”, sometimes it feels like loosing your identity. I really wish people would try to understand why we do stay at home and at least not belittle us. One thing’s for sure, I won’t let anyone call me a “chef” anymore.

  44. If I was a stay at home mom (and I am sure you would agree that unless you have 5 kids and blah blah blah you really don’t have much to do ALL day long)(usually women like that are the ones rushing all over town in their HUGE SUVs trying to stay busy so they dont have time to think about how worthless they are)(I never want to be one of these people) and you just had time to bake and cook and waste time doing that then instead of calling yourself a bored stay at home mom who spends my husbands money you might want a fancy title of chef instead. I suppose. Who knows. Either way, its pretty disrespectful to the real Chefs who have worked in the field and gone to school – all of which is not easy (and something that I never would want to put myself through).

    Not nearly as disrespectful as you are being to real humans. I always love it when people who spend more on toys, dinners out and vacation than we do on all our bills talk about how wealthy you have to be to be a homemaker or how lucky women are not to have to work.

  45. Yeah, over use of titles such as this drives me crazy as well. I’ve been a professional baker for eight years, and often times when I tell people this they say “oh you’re a pastry chef?”. Um… no. I’ve been getting more into that class of citizen, but I’m still a baker.
    It drove me crazy that at my last job the bakery manager wore a chefs jacket proclaiming him to be the head pastry chef. The man was about as knowledgeable and skilled as a freshman at a community college baking program.

  46. Oh my gawd!! What a great excuse to buy some Irish Cream!! I so love your recipes and stories (I think the recipes win!).

    I was reading an earlier posting where you mentioned quince jam and it got me sooo excited! I have some recipes that are hundreds of years old and handwritten in Hungarian and German (you should see the spidery, fine writing!)and one of them is for a specialty quince jelly. I grew up eating it and love it a lot! I will have to pull the recipe and see how it compares to what you posted. I’m sure you would love some of the old recipes that I have from the “old country”. I know my hubby sure has gained weight from eating them! Keep up the great work! I can’t get enough!

  47. awww i’m sure your hubby appreciated these. that amateur chef thing would annoy me too!!

  48. I agree with you to an extent. I had a small catering business for a while (had to quit when the Munchkin was born), but I still don’t consider myself a chef. I’ve never had any formal training (though I would love it). But…I do use “Chef Sara” as my online moniker on occasion. Not because I feel like I am one, but it is a way for me to express my love of food and cooking quickly in a username. It’s a way of sharing a little piece of myself in a concise form…works much better than “amateur really good cook sara.” but you’d never hear me describe myself as a chef. just as someone who loves to cook and bake and who most of my friends and family think i’m really good at it…enough that i was able to make some money catering part time.

    here’s a question, though…does chef just require that someone cooked professionally (you could say i did that) or does it require some form of culinary education as well?

  49. Sara- Read comment # 40, it sums it up the best.

  50. I own a bakery and wouldn’t call myself a pastry chef. The skills, training, education, certification (the American Culinary Federation does certify chefs,) leadership, etc. required to be called a chef is something most people don’t understand. To call yourself a ‘chef’ without the proper credentials is insulting to the profession.

    Awesome post, Peabody.


    Speak Your Mind


    Log In