Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Definition: A junior or learning Chef.
I've been asked quite a few times why I choose to refer to myself as a Commis Chef. Given the definition some would be lead to believe that I'm still a novice and in a lot of ways I am. However, in just as many I'm an expert.
You see, for my first 7- 8years in the industry I was a novice in every sense of the word, but the moment I realized I loved the kitchen-life I began tailoring all of my actions towards the life. Everything from how I put trash bags in the can, how I hold a knife, how I carry plates, how I plate my food to how I hold a broom and dustpan.
See, to you this may all seem nonessential but now that I'm pushing 50,000 hours in professional kitchens I couldn't be happier I did those things because they all have made an impact on my performance.
Around 8years of experience friends, families even co-workers would call me a Chef and I'd correct them each and every time. They say the most beautiful word to a person's ear is their own name. To me that's false. To me the most beautiful word is Chef. It makes my ears perk up, sharpens my senses, raises goosebumps on my arms and depending on who says it to me even brings tears to my eyes. A lot of things mean something to me, but Chef, that means it all. It took 11years and the official title of Sous Chef until I allowed people to call me Chef and I stopped correcting them. Over 14,000 hours with a blade in my hand and I finally say, yes I am.
Now, I can list off my stats like a baseball card but that's not even why I chose Commis. A Chef must be willing and able to consistently teach his or her craft. Without that you're just a really good line-cook at best. The ability to transfer your skills, to duplicate your skills, THAT is Chef. Every time I take on a new line cook to teach my ways I look at them and tell them "please don't be intimidated, threatened or offended by what I'm telling you. My goal is to make you better than me."
To me The Culinary Arts are far too important to let die in the hands of robots. To me a Chef is always learning and to keep that token in check; I am Commis Chef Chris Martin.