Food Hygiene and Safety

Difference Between Cook and Chef

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You might have heard the terms ‘cook’ and ‘chef’. Both are referred to as someone who works with food in the kitchen. However, some argue that the only difference between the two is a significant payment and qualification.

However, the words “cook” and “chef” are entirely different in the hotel industry or the catering field. But designated in the same profession, they have additional duties and responsibilities. Apart from this, they also have dissimilarities in education and qualifications.

Please read the blog and clear all doubts regarding the differences between a chef and a cook.

Chefs in protective masks and gloves preparing food in the kitchen of a hotel.


What is the Difference Between a Cook and a Chef?

People who are not involved in the culinary arts usually consider “cook” and “chef” the same.

Some people also mistakenly refer to the cooks who work in posh hotels or restaurants as chefs, although this is incorrect! A cook and a chef have different responsibilities in the kitchen, yet several things set them apart. Let’s have a brief look at their definition first.

Happy young cook in uniform showing thumbs up.



What is Cook?

Generally, a cook is a person who prepares and cooks food. However, a cook may also be suitable as a chef if he gains proper formal culinary education and training and works under an experienced chef.

A cook is also a person who cooks food in a professional setting and at home. He is considered to be an inferior title chef. A cook is still at the learning level of his career.

His duties may involve-

  • Preparing food daily
  • Mixing, combining, and heating the ingredients
  • Cleaning and washing the kitchen
  • Performing other kitchen duties
  • Using recipes
  • Following someone else’s menu plan
  • Obtaining the chef’s instructions.

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What is a Chef?

The chef is a professional, experienced, and trained cook. However, it is common knowledge that a chef is in a higher rank or position than a cook. Mainly, chefs themselves differ in class. In a restaurant, there can be different chefs, for example- sous chef, pastry chef, demi chef, executive chef(top of the line), etc.

The chef is professionally qualified. They have a two to four-year culinary degree and training and often receive work under an expert chef. Since he is the head of a cooking team, he is also not directly involved in cooking. His work in a restaurant or kitchen ensures the following responsibilities –

  • Setting professional aroma
  • Proficiency in all aspects of food serving
  • Focusing on a particular cuisine.
  • Maintaining a supervisory position
  • Maintaining management role
  • Team Leader
  • Creating and planning entire menus
  • Suggest estimated staffing for better work
  • Ensure total kitchen management

Happy young cook in uniform holding a salad.


The Difference Between a Cook and a Chef

DefinitionA chef is a professional, experienced and  trained cookA cook is someone who cooks and may or may not be working in a professional setting.
QualificationsA two or four year culinary degreeWork and personal experience
Extensive training under a chef, i.e. culinary apprenticeship to gain a culinary education equal to that of a degree.
ResponsibilitiesAble to create and implement menus in a restaurant settingPrepare food daily
Responsibilities that include a supervisory rolePerform kitchen duties, as needed and directed
Managing kitchen staffClean and washing the kitchen regularly
Directing the preparation of mealsUtilise recipes and following someone's menu plan
Estimating food requirements and ordering food and other suppliesStill be at the learning level of their career
Define serving sizes
Plan menus
Ensure correct presentation and quality of meals
The Degree includesBasic sanitation and workplace safety courses No official degree or work experience is required.
Followed instruction on Food handling, 
preparation and cooking protocols.
Working PlaceChefs mainly supervise the assigned cook. They can work at-Cook Can work at- 
RestaurantsPrivate families.
Speciality food storesRestaurants
Residential care facilitiesHotels 
Private set-upHospitals
Catering companies.Different public establishments.
Working HoursThe standard chef position works 50-plus hours a week, including nights, weekends and holidays. For a chef job in a restaurant, expect to work 7 days a week for 12 to 14 hours each shift.Typically, a cook works for  8 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week. Weekends are work days in most kitchens. When the kitchen needs arise, cooks are expected to stay later 
TypesExecutive Chef (Chef de Cuisine)Personal Cooks
Sous ChefFish Cook (Poissonier)
Pastry Chef (Patissier)Vegetable Cook (Entremetier)
Station Chef (Chef de Partie)Meat Cook (Rotisseur)
SaucierFry Cook
Pantry Chef (Gard Manger)Line Cook (Commis)
Personal Chefs

What Qualifications Do You Need To Be a Chef or a Cook?

To identify the difference between a chef and a cook, you first need to know the qualifications, education, responsibilities, duties, salary, and other relevant factors associated with chefs and cooks.

The following description of required education is one of the essential aspects of differentiating between a chef and a cook.


When it comes to education, cooks usually do not require any formal education. Anyone having the passion and experience of preparing food can apply for the job of a cook.

  • A minimum high school diploma or GED.
  • Earn vocational qualifications,
  • An associate degree in a related field,
  • A bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field.

Cooks typically do not have any requirements for post-secondary education. Instead, it’s mostly the working knowledge required in a cook’s job.

The inside includes the ability to use mixers, grinders, slicers, and food processors, a complete experience of hot and cold food preparation and a good understanding of sanitation standards and health codes. In addition, cooks might undertake Food Hygiene courses to maintain food hygiene standards.


To become a chef, you are expected to be trained in culinary school or go through an apprenticeship with an experienced chef. Culinary certifications like a degree or diploma maximise employment chances and help prove a chef’s proficiency in the industry. They also demonstrate a chef’s passion and dedication to the role.

  • Enrolling in degree programmes such as associate’s degree or bachelor’s degrees takes two and four years, respectively.
  • Complete a diploma that tends to be the shortest of all the culinary programmes.

According to Restaurants Brighton Jobs, many budding chefs study for a professional NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) diploma. There are three levels to get you started; each lasts one school year if you study full-time.

  • Level 1 Certificate for Food Preparation and Cooking course
  • Level 2 Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking
  • Level 3 Professional Cookery Diploma

Chef vs Cook: Experience

Experience is defined as the fundamental contrast between a chef and a cook. It is a significant fact because a cook is fresher in this field. On the other hand, chefs are in the middle position or mid-level of their careers. Some points are as follows-

1A cook can have or can not have any specific experience in the field of cooking.A Chef has clear four to five years of working experience in an eatery like a hotel or a restaurant.
2Cooks may have some or no professional training before starting their careers.Chefs who have a lot of practical training before entering their positions. 
3Typically, they need a minimum of two years of experience in a similar role or field, which they can acquire through an apprenticeship.Minimum of five years’ experience in a fast-paced restaurant environment.
4A cook does not require any essential experience in culinary skills.A chef must have experience, training or knowledge of culinary skills.

A happy female cook holding her salary


Cook vs Chef: Salaries

The salary depends on experience, location and qualifications. These three issues are most common for both professions regarding disbursement of payment. However, the salary may vary as per their rank. The basic scenario of wages is described below-

1The salary range usually falls between £34,756 and £55,759. The salary range usually falls between £18,378 and £26,003.
2Typically earns around 43,500 GBP per year. Salaries range from 20,000 GBP (lowest) to 69,100 GBP (highest).A Cook in the United Kingdom typically earns around 39,300 GBP per year. Salaries range from 19,200 GBP (lowest) to 61,300 GBP (highest).
3The Average chef's salary in the UK is low at is £28,408The Average cook's salary in the UK is  £21,875
Low: £24,023Low: £21,765
High:  £31,754.High: £21,953,
4The standard salary for a chef is £11.20 per hour in England.The standard salary for a cook is £10.13 per hour in England.
5The minimum salary for a chef is £22,921 per year in London. The minimum additional cash compensation for a Chef in the London Area is £8,857, ranging from £315 - £249,192. The average salary for a chef is £19,984 per year in the UK.
Senior Cook: £20,700 /yr
Lead Cook: £21,079 /yr.

chef wearing an apron while preparing ingredients for a dish in a restaurant


Can a Cook Become a Chef?

In the cooking world, nothing can be compared to the value of a hands-on education that comes from years of experience as a professional chef. So to become a chef, you have to go through this process. A cook can become a chef through work experience and must work under an experienced chef.

However, he must also receive training at a community college, trade school, culinary arts school, or a four-year college. Some also participate in mentorship programs, where they work under the supervision of an experienced chef.

  • Before choosing your career path as a chef, you must consider your passion for food. It is the first motivation for you to enter the fantastic sector. Reflect on your qualifications for pursuing a career as a chef. You may also try to be experimental and bold with your cooking style. A super or excellent chef may strive to push culinary boundaries with their art by developing new and innovative recipes. In addition, a confident, passionate and hard-working cook can become a chef with his-
    • Passion
    • Discipline
    • Practice
    • Dedication,
    • Quality
  • You need to enrich your culinary skills. It is beneficial to develop relevant skills and competencies while pursuing your career as a professional chef. However, many resources are available to you for skill development. For example-
    • Online training
    • Certification courses
    • Blogs and books
    • Online sessions
    • YouTube
    • Books or e-books
    • Journals

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Your culinary techniques can help you to enhance your capability as a Chef. Considering the fact you may need some training to achieve your career goals. So you have to identify which activity is suitable for your needs.

  • You can join an apprenticeship programme. For this, you may choose any local restaurant or kitchen to gain the practical experience of becoming a chef. For example, an internship could give you real-world knowledge and help you decide which specialities or areas of expertise are right for you. During your apprenticeship, you may develop skills in decision-making, time management, budgeting, servicing and kitchen operations.
  • You have to work under your mentor. In an entry-level position, a mentor is suitable to guide you appropriately. He identifies your strengths and weaknesses in the professional area. An experienced chef supervises your work immensely and can be the perfect teacher for your culinary school. The right mentor only encourages the development of your skills. He may also provide opportunities for building your network and professional advancement in the industry.


I Hope you have acknowledged the difference between a chef and a cook. If you are currently working as a cook and aspire to be a chef, there is nothing that can stop you from being so!

But you have to keep focusing on your passion. Finally, you understand, “All chefs are cooks, but all cooks are not chefs.”


Are the cooks and the chefs the same things?

A cook and a chef are typically considered to be the same thing. However, there is a significant difference between both professions.

Who is higher, a cook or a chef?

A chef holds a higher position than a cook.

Should I call myself a chef or a cook?

To become a chef, you need to earn specific qualifications, professional cooking experience and a degree in culinary arts or in a related field; if you have these qualities, you can call yourself a chef. However, if you have just joined anywhere and learned kitchen work, including cooking, you can call yourself a cook.

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