With the growth of the Food Network, more people than ever are interesting in fine dining, and in the people who create that experience. Many of those people are referred to as executive chefs. But in reality, an executive chef is more involved in management and supervision than in actual cooking in a restaurant ("Cooks and Chefs" ¶13). Executive chef is a job that requires specialized training and years of apprenticeship and business skills, as well as a love of food and cooking.
The idea of a master, or executive, chef, came about in the eighteenth century. The chef jacket is based on a military uniform, white to show cleanliness. One of the legends of the origin of the tall white hat, or “toque,” is that the famous chef Carême, put a cardboard tube in a women’s hat, and others started the same thing. Some say the tall hat helps workers find the chef in a crowded kitchen (Pack 1). Throughout history, and even today, French training is important for serious chefs (“Cooks and Chefs” ¶1). The French chef Escoffier organized the first “brigade” which put in a military-type structure in a kitchen with the executive chef as general. Other brigade ranks are the sous chef, the chefs de partie, the demi-chefs and apprentices. Kitchens are divided into stations like the grill, sauces and pastries (Pack 1).
Today many executive chefs have some formal education and training. The most famous school for chefs in the U.S. is The Culinary Institute of America. Founded in New Haven, CT in 1946 to provide training for soldiers returning from World War II, the school is now located in Hyde Park, NY and also has campuses in Sonoma County, CA and San Antonio, TX ("The Story of the World's…..” 1). Another famous cooking school is Johnson and Wales University. It has four campuses, including one in Charlotte. Its most famous graduate is probably celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, who continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of the school. He organized a gold tournament to help sponsor scholarships for students ("Lagasse, J&W host fund-raising golf tournament" ¶1).
One of the most important jobs of an executive chef is to create the restaurant’s menu. Successful celebrity chefs, “employ the insights gained from consumers to present products that closely meet the consumers' expectations” (Miner 39). Many executive chefs create signature menu items for their restaurants. According to an article about how to go about creating those items, “Each new signature item must ideally be able to account for 10% of the total menu, 20% of the...