Difference Between Cook and Chef

Most of the times, the terms like Cook and Chef are misunderstood, used interchangeably and got confused. Cook and Chef, both terms define someone who works in the kitchen with food.

Therefore, It is very important to mark the differences between a cook and a Chef.

Many people argue, the only difference being a pay gap, which is quite significant. However, in this article, the perceptions and the main differences between a Chef and a cook will be unveiled.

Cook vs Chef

The main difference between a Cook and a chef is that Cook is someone who does all the preparation and makes food. Whereas, Chef is trained and skilled.

Chefs generally work in a specialised restaurant or hotel. However, Cooks simply work in the kitchen. Although both Chef and Cook are the ones who cook food.

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Cooks are generally allocated with other duties and responsibilities with making food, such as cleaning responsibility of the kitchen.

Every common human being working in the kitchen is a cook. It is the perceptions of people which differ a chef from a cook.

Chefs are generally appointed in restaurants to prepare beautifully delicious dishes. If not, then chefs have a certain experience period of working in a hotel or restaurant.

In layman understanding, a chef undergoes training and has skills to make food. Chef also is a type of Cook, but he or she has enhanced technical and specialised skills gaining a proper training period.

Comparison Table Between Cook and Chef

Parameters of ComparisonCookChef
Training and SkillsA Cook is a layman having no training, specialised or technical skills.A Chef undergoes specialised courses and thorough training learning various skills.
ExperienceA cook can have or can not have any specific experience in the field of cooking.A Chef has certain years of experience working in an eatery like a hotel or a Restaurant.
Worth and ValueA cook is bound to adhere to his superiors’ orders.A Chef’s decision is valued in the commercial field by his superiors like managers or Chief chef.
ExperimentA cook does not experiment and prepares food with the existing recipes as directed to him.A chef keeps on doing experiments to make a new dish by combining the ingredients.
Duties and ResponsibilitiesA cook can do other works in the kitchen apart from making food, such as cleaning or washing utensils. A chef’s work is only to make new recipes or supervise other chefs working under him.

What is Cook?

The term Cook is quite dynamic. It applies to various people who work in different institutions such as prison, hospitals, old age homes and schools.

In a restaurant or a hotel, the main priority of a person is food, but in these institutions, the main priority is not necessarily food always.

Foods or various dishes prepared here may not be done with precision, but they adhered to fulfilment despite having experience in cooking.

Those people who work in several institutions are not considered as Cook only. According to some arguments put forward by different people, cooks do exist in eateries such as hotels and restaurants too.

The only difference is that they never do experimental stuff by sticking to existing recipes only. Very rarely, they deviate from the usual recipes.

Other people also argue that cooks generally reheat the already prepared existing food items or they assemble the pre-made food items available to make a dish out of it.

Cooks have the potential to work of their own or in a team as well. They are usually multi-skilled, however comparatively less than a chef in a kitchen.

Cook differs from a chef in grounds training they received and degree of knowledge they have.

Despite working in a restaurant, if a man has no skills to experiment or make a new dish, rather stick to usual ones, or as asked by his superior Chef, then he will be considered as a Cook and not a chef.


What is Chef?

Chefs typically work in those institutions where the main focus is upon the presentation of the food and its freshness and fast delivery.

They undergo specialised courses in fields such as Hotel Management and gain knowledge and experience to get the desired goals of their placement.

Chefs have a better understanding of taste, flavours and techniques as well. They are trained to make a new dish from scratch as well.

Not necessarily following a specific recipe is important for a chef, as he can make a new dish out of the ingredients placed in front of him.

As they are well aware of the combinations of spices that work together. They kept on trying to bring variations in dishes and never stop doing experiments.

Chefs have the freedom to inculcate the name of new dishes of their recipes into the menu. They might not be wholly responsible for it, but partly for sure.

It is the responsibility on the shoulders of a chef that distinguishes him from a cook. The decisions are taken by chefs are generally valued by the executive Chefs and the managers.

Some chefs having more experiences often supervise other chefs working under them.

Chefs focus on individual dishes of the area of their expertise. They flaunt their skills in their area of expertise only. As a pastry chef is specialised in making pastries, and a Sauté Chef creates sauces.

To become a Chef, one needs to finish through training. Culinary skills are the basic skills of a chef.


Main Differences Between Cook and Chef

  1. A cook can be a common man or someone working for the Chef whereas, Chef is a professional worker.
  2. It is not mandatory for a cook to receive any kind of training, but a chef has gained several pieces of training and skill development throughout his specialised course period.
  3. A cook works with the existing recipes, whereas a chef is expected to continue experimenting with the ingredients to make a new recipe.
  4. A cook can be seen anywhere, like in prisons, hospitals, temples and schools, whereas a chef generally works in an eatery such as a hotel or restaurant.
  5. For a cook, the presentation and taste do not hold much importance whereas, it’s mandatory for a chef to know culinary skills, and to him, the presentation of food is as important as the taste.
Difference Between Cook and Chef


If cooks are given some amount of thorough training, they can be called chefs. However, the condition applies. They should have worked in an industry or institution and have earned some experience.

Sometimes, the chefs having high qualifications, degree, knowledge and skills may opt out from cooking as a career and switch to something else that fascinates them.

Thus, cook and Chef, although used interchangeably but differ from each other according to human perceptions.


  1. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/00070700310497255/full/html
  2. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1063154
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