Amateur Cooks – Master Chefs

“Amateur” cooks from around the country compete for the title of “MASTER CHEF.”

This is the advertisement for a cooking reality show I heard over the radio the other day. Talk about an oxymoron!

Many chefs and culinary professionals have watched the word “Chef” along  with the word “Master Chef” become slowly redefined over the last 10-15 years in connection to the “Chef Craze” that has swept the world.

This has now reached an all time low. Culinary professionals are beginning to have their blood boil over all the loosely given chef titles that have now taken greatly from the integrity of the title Chef and Master Chef to boot.

It takes years to become a chef formally trained or not it is a long hard road in a very difficult career path. Master chef is an ultimate title, many “old school” culinary professionals can tell you this is not a title given out to anyone , especially to a group of amateurs competing on a cooking show.

A Master chef in respects to the chef career is a very “BIG DEAL!” Most definitely not a term that should be used loosely.

Years of dedication and a degree of maturity must be accomplished first before someone can realistically call them self a chef or master chef. The culinary profession is a tough one with many ups and downs, enduring the difficulties that come with the career is what deepens ones connection to being a true chef and helps them express their passion through food more effectively. This all takes a good amount of time.

This is the formula to being able to carry the title with pride and dignity. One earns it over time and dedication to the craft.

This is not the case with the TV programing that has placed greater importance on the “cool wordage” of their shows rather what the wordage really means, or in this case… once meant.

Yes, it is amazing , AMAZING how loosely the word chef and master chef are used today. All in the name of TV-ratings and reality programing. If people only understood the training and time put into actually becoming a chef, possibly many others would raise an eyebrow to all this as well.

“Amateur cooks compete for the title of Master Chef.” This is a ludicrous title and an oxymoron if I ever heard one. The culinary profession is now full of so many others who feel the same.

The once culinary professionals that were tuning in to these cooking shows are now the same ones tuning out!

There are countless numbers of dedicated chefs and culinary professionals in the world today in and out of the United States that are just simply awesome!


Awesome in every way culinary and will never be well know out side of their own circle of existence. Culinary professionals who have put their heart and souls into their cooking craft, have paid their dues to the career and would just love to get some kind of recognition or even a book out, with their awesome recipes and their heart filled cooking stories.

Since they are unknown, for the most part they don’t have a prayers chance in hell on getting a book out or ever being taken serious by a traditional publishing house, nor will any other media outlet that can elevate their lives to a  higher level take them seriously as well.

The clincher here is the converse to all this. A reality cooking show can place an unknown cooking talent with not even half the experience level or true dedication to the craft as the unknown professionals I just made mention to and elevate them to a place where true culinary professionals can only dream about going.

Attending a show and jumping over and under the obstacles of the program does not elevate your professionalism, or culinary dedication. What it does elevate is your exposure to an audience of viewers and that sad to say is what media and publishing houses are interested in.

The men/women who have danced their life away cooking behind a stove and are hoping to get that ultimate cook book out or finally be taken more seriously by media will  now been overlooked once again and placed in a long line of others just like them.

But, that amateur contestant that pranced through a cooking reality show can be well on the way to life changing opportunities, book deals and money.

I know from my travels and personal experience that there is a world of people out there that now find something very wrong with this and are more than ready to now start to make some noise.

It has become very fashionable for media to adorn the word chef or master chef title, on anyone that is brave enough to wear an apron, swing a knife and be a part of a TV show. All this simply takes the professional meaning of the word chef and diminishes it.

It all boils down to this, plain and simple, when you graduate cooking school or begin a cooking apprenticeship  you’re not a chef yet. You may think you are, you may jump on a cooking show that calls you a chef, but reality shows and reality are not the same. Your not a chef and definitely not a master chef.

There are many great chefs out there that will tell you quite frankly, to become a chef and hold the title with dignity it’s a long hard road and there is no fast track.

What has happened in the last 10 years or so to the word chef is a real disgrace. A disgrace to all those that have worked and compromised their lives away to really hold the title.

Again yes, we all understand that these cooking segments for TV are for exciting family, fun and entertainment. It may have started out with this type of family, fun cooking concept in mind. Over time it has changed and has unfortunately changed the way people use the word chef along with the manner in which people cook.

The generation of  the “now cooks” and “aspiring chefs” are  more interested in the competitive nature of cooking that TV has presented and escalated over the last 10-15 years. The competitive nature of cooking is a very small part of what “real cooking” is all about and unfortunately it’s the most alluring aspect about it to most young cooks.

Cooking schools and apprenticeships are on average a length of two years long. In 2 years no one can master or be an expert on any craft let alone a culinary one.

Some culinary professionals that  I have had this debate with time and again, have even at times used the career path of becoming a doctor to make a clear point on all this.

Medical students as we all know go through an extremely lengthy and difficult educational regiment  and once they graduate they are not technically doctors yet.

They must  now endure long internships under great doctors, hospitals and get experience to become seasoned, before they can hold the title of  doctor with dignity. This all makes perfect sense in the medical field.

For some reason this was all altered in the culinary field over the last decade or so.

“Chef” and  “Master Chef” titles have been diluted  down in order to latch on to “cool words” that will catch more  TV viewers and boost  ratings.


Personally over the last 20 years I have  met, worked with and  am friends with all types of chefs from many different countries. The  loose definition of the title chef given out today is a true insult to those who really live the life and no nothing but being a real chef.

It is for all them that I make this post!


The advertisement I heard: “Amateur cooks from around the country compete for the title of  MASTER CHEF ” sparked many conversations with others that feel exactly the same. It truly sounded ridiculous. (link to one of the shows advertisements in Seattle) >
Now the up side, the show “Master Chef” airs on the FOX network and is hosted by Gordon Ramsey. Chef Ramsey is simply one of the best celebrity chefs out there. The show is a lot of fun, the contestants really get very in to the dynamic of the show and Fox can sling the show out to millions of viewers in and out of the U.S.A. . This is all good!

The only thing culinary professionals are having an issue with  is the name. Call the show something else and Rock On!

No amateur cook can spend a few days on a reality TV show and leave a master chef, it’s just not possible. Poor choice of words for a title to a culinary oriented show.

Change the wordage and help place some dignity back into the title of “chef” and “master chef.”

Many who love cooking and do it as a profession, do not  love the new definitions of the chef, master chef and all the rest. Time to bring it out to an open forum and request others who feel the same start to do so as well.

The titles have lost their dignity and it cheapens the whole career. I am speaking straight from experience and my heart on this matter. If  it strikes a chord in  the heart of  the many hard-working chefs and culinary professionals out there then this post accomplished its purpose.

Purpose being to bring an awareness as to how far down “chef titles” have fallen, caused by the “Chef Craze” that has swept the world by storm and has become big business!


Savor Life…One Bite…At a Time.