I’ve frequently been told I’m an amazing gourmet chef by non-CH friends, relatives and acquaintances. This is somewhat embarrassing to me (however it IS gratifying to have my efforts acknowledged) because I know that really I’m just an amazing recipe jockey. By that I mean that I can and do follow the majority of the recipes out there to successful conclusion. I know many people strive for this skill level but it makes me feel like a fraud – because there’s "gourmet cook" (a.k.a. recipe jockey), and then there’s "gourmet chef".
I’ve been watching food shows and cooking for most of my life so I have the techniques down. I’ve taken various cooking courses and classes. I know the importance of high-quality ingredients and will go out of my way to procure them. I strive for the best taste and appearance possible. I am willing to devote the time required to making each dish perfect. But….. what I lack is the ability (or is courage? or creativity?) to develop my own recipes from scratch. Sure, I can take a recipe and augment it based on a good understanding of the function of the ingredients….but I am by no means original in what I cook.
My question to you is – how does one go from being a Recipe Jockey to a Chef? Once you have the skills – is it just a matter of figuring out how to compose the food profiles? Is it something that you’re born with or can it be learned? As a CH can you be happy just being good at executing complex recipes or do you strive for that next level?