What exactly differentiates a “cook” from a “chef?” Brian Geiger, in his blog post for www.finecooking.com posits two characteristics: creativity and career. A chef is paid to make food. He further differentiates the two by stating: “A chef has to be responsible for the soul of the food. A chef should have a deep understanding of how to cook many types of food, what flavors go together, how to handle kitchen equipment (knife skills come in handy here), and so on. A chef should not require the directions part of a recipe, and usually shouldn’t require the amounts in a recipe, either.”
Additionally, I ran across this quotation by A.A. Gill that sums it up beautifully as well.
“The difference between a chef and a cook is the difference between a wife and a prostitute. Cooks do meals for people they know and love. Chefs do it anonymously for anyone who’s got the price.”
I definitely fall into the “cook” category.