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"WITH us there rade a Maister-Cook that came
From the Rochelle which is neere Angoulême.
Littel hee was, but rounder than a topp,
And his small berd hadde dipped in manie a soppe.
His honde was smoother than beseemeth mann’s,
And his discoorse was all of marzipan,
Of tripes of Caen, or Burdeux snailés swote,
And Seinte Menhoulde wher cooken piggés-foote.

(from) Prologue to The Master Cook's Tale Rudyard Kipling (after Chaucer)

Basic Information

A cook is, unsurprisingly, a person who cooks for a living. Most people cook to some degree, but a cook does it as a job and therefore typically has a significant number of people to feed, either as a household or a business. The role, especially at the senior end, is often conflated with that of chef - and indeed a chef who cannot cook will usually not get very far - but a cook need not necessarily run the kitchen (indeed any chef will typically manage a number of subordinate cooks). That said, a cook is still a fairly high ranking member of the kitchen staff by the very demands of the job - if there are other staff available, they must perforce service whatever the cook is doing, whether preparing, assisting or cleaning up afterwards. This seniority extends to outside the kitchen as well - in a household, the cook is likely to be amongst the highest ranking servants and one of the few domestics that deal directly with the family (normally the Mistress of the house will, at the very least, consult with the cook to plan the weekly menu), whilst anyone in commercial hospitality is also well advised to ensure that they are in direct communication with their business' chef or cook as any trouble in the kitchen will disturb the guests quite rapidly.



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