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A quick quide to the difference between foodies and chefs

05 September 2013 - 03:46 By Andrea Burgener

Apologies up front for the unavoidable use of the ghastly word "foodie" in this column.

A large part of the foodie phenomenon, the foodie "impulse", is linked to the "chefdom-is-cool" phenomenon. Everyone secretly reckons that, in another life, they'd make a great chef. And maybe so.

But foodies, I'm here to tell you that if you really want to emulate chefs, most of you are going about it all wrong. You want to up your game from dilettante to seriously cool foodie? The good news is, it is much easier than you thought. In fact, the message is: stop trying so hard.

Check out the guide of differences between the average foodie and the average chef, and learn:


Foodies emerge from a good night's sleep and proudly offer their offspring goat-ricotta flapjacks. Chefs wake up ragged, and when children ask for breakfast, scream: "The cereal's in the cupboard. Make it yourself." Practise getting your tone right by giving yourself five hours' sleep a night for a straight week.


Foodies get home with delectables from the nearest farmer's market and rustle up something gourmet, yet rustic, using the most fashionable ingredients available. Chefs run out the front door before supper, leaving spouse, childminder or gran with the instructions "the cereal's in the cupboard".


Foodies will go to effort for themselves. But as a more chef-like foodie, your life is easier. After so much time spent feeding others, chefs see little point in creating a new mess in their home kitchen. A solo meal will probably be slices of (good) coppa hacked from the log or, yes, cereal. Or nothing. Practise this by forgetting to buy any groceries for your house. So cost-effective.


Chefs are easier to entertain than foodies. The latter expect something gastronomically up to date, and scrutinise wine labels. Chefs care less. They've spent the week nibbling on nuggets of seared duck fat bits, brownie edges and so on. They are all treated out, and crave only a seat and a large measure of something alcoholic. So easy to emulate, right? And so much easier than the foodie mags would have you think.

Note: None of the above applies to Italian chefs, who to the chagrin and bewilderment of all others, manage to make their families rabbit ravioli before running out the door.

Still want to be a posh sort of foodie? Buy How to be a Better Foodie by Sudi Pigott (Quadrille, 2008). This will keep you at least five steps ahead of your gastro peers, and may even move you into the realms of High Foodist or Epicurean. A snip at around R60 online.

  • Burgener is the chef at The Leopard in Melville, Johannesburg