From Our Chefs

Chef: Defining the Term and What Makes a Rockstar Chef

We’re College Chefs. Even if you’ve never heard of us, chances are that you can guess we’re a chef related business. But, what EXACTLY is a chef? These days the term gets thrown around pretty loosely. We break down what the term “chef” means- and what it doesn’t.

Chef cooking with a high flame
Photographer: Johnathan Macedo | Source: Unsplash

Definition of a Chef

The term chef, today, is a title for a professional cook; an educated individual versed in the culinary arts. But, the term actually originates from the French term for “boss” or “leader.” This title of chef holds an honor. It represents long hours spent honing one’s skill, day after day. The chef runs the kitchen and the menu. They’re more than just someone cooking a meal. Furthermore, they’re leading the charge of the kitchen and creating a symphony of flavors on a seasonal scale. Other than being a damn good cook, we believe there are 4 main qualities that make a badass chef.

1. Experience in the Kitchen

The number one quality of a great chef is experience. Time spent in the kitchen, honing one’s craft. A chef is a mature, competent professional who has made the rookie mistakes and knows how to navigate on the fly. Knowledge of menu planning is a must! Like any good story, a great menu has a strong beginning, great development, maybe some intrigue or surprise, and a complete conclusion that keeps you thinking about the experience. Furthermore, a chef is a mentor, guiding the line cooks or sous chefs with any questions or uncertainties. The technical aspect of cooking has been mastered under the most tense, stressful situations.

2. Culinary Knowledge

A vast knowledge of food is also in the starter pack of a rockstar chef. The chef needs to know available ingredients, when those ingredients are in season, the best way to source those ingredients and the best method of cooking for the respective ingredients and what ingredients pair well together.

At the end of the day, a chef is working with the magic of flavor. They have a developed, experienced palate and the ability to build unique flavor profiles.

If you think chefs don’t use their arithmetic skills, you’re mistaking. Classic kitchen math is needed. Chefs possess the ability to cost a dish out within seconds as a result of mastering recipes, plates and costing the overall menu within the budget. Also, they standardize recipes and are able to scale for larger or smaller groups with ease. In addition to this, they maintain knowledge of inventory and are able to manage their stock room with efficiency to reduce waste and minimize costs.

chef serving colorful plate of veggies
Photographer: Peter Dawn | Source: Unsplash

3. Chef Leadership

If the origin of the word is any indicator, an amazing chef must also be an amazing leader. A true team builder, rallying a team behind one goal: serving a wicked good meal. If anything goes wrong, all fingers point to the chef. They are responsible for setting the tone and culture within the kitchen. They are the example of excellence for the rest of the kitchen staff. Respect is a major key here. Respect for ingredients, methods of cooking, the team and the customer! A chef also needs to be a competent communicator and versed emotional intelligence.

At College Chefs, we appoint a College Chefs Ambassador (CCA) in each of our houses to communicate directly with the the chef and play a role in the menu creation process so each member of the sorority or fraternity is getting exactly what they want.

I hope you like the photo! If you do, please leave a comment. Feel free to check out my full commercial food + hotel photography portfolio here: and get in touch with me.
Photographer: Sebastian Coman Photography | Source: Unsplash

4. Creativity

It’s not called the culinary arts for nothing. An artist sees things that don’t already exist, and brings them to life. A chef has a grand vision and utilizes their knowledge and skills to execute this vision to the best of their abilities. This can mean taking some risks and the ability to get crafty when a creative mistake is made and the meal still needs to be served. This is a fast-paced industry, so a chef must be quick on their feet. After years of experience, chefs possess a knowledge of the science behind cooking and the inner workings of flavor. Beyond this knowledge, they’re able to hone and develop their intuition in the kitchen. With this intuition, they’re able to push the creative boundaries and create unique experiences for those lucky enough to enjoy their service.

“A jazz musician can improvise based on his knowledge of music. He understands how things go together. For a chef, once you have that basis, that’s when cuisine is truly exciting.” -Charlie Trotter
Check out more posts

build my plan

Please fill out the form below to help us prepare the right plan for you

We take your privacy very seriously and will only use your personal information to provide the products and services you requested. Read our Privacy Policy on this website to see how we protect and manage your data. We use POWr to manage all form submissions. By submitting this form, you acknowledge that the information you provide will be transferred to POWr for processing in accordance with their Privacy Policy and Terms.

Whoops, looks like something went wrong.

(1/1) ErrorException

fwrite(): write of 1176 bytes failed with errno=28 No space left on device

in StreamHandler.php line 130
at HandleExceptions->handleError()
at fwrite()in StreamHandler.php line 130
at StreamHandler->streamWrite()in StreamHandler.php line 116
at StreamHandler->write()in AbstractProcessingHandler.php line 39
at AbstractProcessingHandler->handle()in Logger.php line 344
at Logger->addRecord()in Logger.php line 707
at Logger->error()in Writer.php line 203
at Writer->writeLog()in Writer.php line 114
at Writer->error()in Facade.php line 221
at Facade::__callStatic()in Handler.php line 42
at Handler->report()in HandleExceptions.php line 81
at HandleExceptions->handleException()