Star Chefs are hot! In and out of America. This has been a craze for the last 30 years. Television food programs, beautifully laid out cookbooks, culinary magazines, cooking schools, and websites of chefs, and their gastronomic creations. All this has helped elevate the food industry to one of the fastest-growing professions in the United States. Every day in America there is a new young chef being crowned Top Chef, and there’s a new graduating class of culinary students getting ready to hit the cuisine highway to fame and fortune. There are cooking enthusiasts who wish they chose to be a chef over what they do for a living and amateur cooks who, via ‘right place, right time’ rode on the coattails of the whole movement and nudged their way in with the culinary elite!
Here is an important question, and the only one I want to pose to this celebrity chef movement. What if glamour and celebrity status was not possible? Imagine no possibility of being a superstar chef by 25, no TV cooking programs, no interest in sexy restaurants, no interest in cookbooks no matter how beautifully they are laid out. No chance to make millions of dollars a year even if the greater public has found you interesting enough to watch you cook, talk, and eat on a cooking show. No glamour or glitz whatsoever! Would you still pursue a career as a chef? Would it still be your dream? What if you were placed in the situation of most cooks and chefs across America? Unknown, under-paid, under the radar, and overworked! Would you keep going just for the mere fact that you like cooking? Be honest with yourself.
Imagine the culinary arts stripped down to what it really is, and what it was meant to be: hard work, determination, sacrifice, dedication, and working as an integral part of a team.
Aspiring chefs that begin a culinary arts profession and spend their careers dedicated to the love of cooking, propelled by a pure passion for nothing more than a pat on the back and an okay paycheck are the true stars at the end of the day. Without them, the highly toted, highly-paid, celebrity chefs of today would not be possible. Remember when a famous chef is out in public on promotion tours some understudy chef is keeping everything going back at the restaurant. Who are they? Why aren’t they on television? Unfortunately for them, celebrity chef land and is a one-horse town when in front of a camera.
Chefs in general who choose this profession and way of life, solely for the love of cooking and have kept at it over many years are the true superstars.
I always thought a show that was a cross between Anthony Bourdain‘s No Reservations and an educational travel show such as what Rick Steves produces would have been a great combination. The premise of the show would be to shed light on the many hard-working men and women that are the daily backbone of a celebrity chef’s professional kitchen(s).
So I ask once again. If the possibility of fame and fortune were taken away would you still stick it out and pursue a chef career? Or, is your cooking passion more for the spotlight and all that comes with that rather than a simple desire to make great food? Now, that I made my point let’s clarify.
Many star chefs of today most definitely paid their dues and are well deserving of their stardom. However, there are many “in threw the back door” chefs that have become a fad as well. This is where once again the true word of chef gets obscured and loses its meaning in the true sense of the word. A chef is an earned title. It is built on years of dedication to cuisine and having a keen sense of being able to elevate and inspire others to strive for their very best day in and day out while working in a professional kitchen. There is an earned dignity that comes from being called a chef. Not every one that dons an apron is a chef. Just like not everyone who uses a first-aid kit is a doctor.
I believe as time passes and like all else, fads change. Today’s chef pop culture will fade away. And it will turn back to a grassroots approach to cooking. As cooking personalities come and go cooking as a craft and as art is always here to stay. This is what will remain the fundamental reason why young men and women decide to be chefs in the first place.
“DESIGN YOUR DISH ~ DESIGN YOUR LIFE.”