My daughter asked me the other night as we were watching an episode of Top Chef if I ever wanted to be on the show. I told her no, which wasn’t a satisfactory answer, so she pressed me to explain why.

I realize I am going to grossly over generalize here, but chefs and bakers are two different breeds in the kitchen. Granted there is a crossover, but usually you see one or the other. Words like spontaneous and impulsive come to mind if I were to describe the players on the TV show. They always seem a little hot headed, random and make decisions on the fly. All things a baker cannot be or do.

A baker is more calculated and measured by nature, because that is the life of the job everyday. A baker cannot add a dash of this or fix a bad lump of dough with a little of that. There is a point of no return for forgotten salt to a baker. Chef can always add it at the last minute. For baker, that was hours ago.

I have the privilege of wearing both hats. And I admit my bias, but I feel that baking makes me a better cook. I’m not sure it works the other direction for me. Being a baker teaches me to think ahead about my cooking, to see the big picture of the food, to not have to rely on last minute panic due to the fault of my sloppiness or poor planning.

I love the energy at play during a busy time of service, but enjoy more the zen of the early morning hours of baking. It’s a lesson for me when I let my life get too frenetic. Slow down, do what you know to do, put the ingredients together and treat them with care, and most of the time it will work out to your desired end.

That wasn’t the answer I gave my daughter. She settled for a simpler response. “No, because it would take me away from getting to be with you.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

Chefs and Bakers