It is my belief that a chef is a cook first. You get to be chef not only because you can lead a crew, but because you can jump into any position is your kitchen and handle yourself with grace and style. If your grill cook shows up late, you need to jump in. If the salad guy is sick, get in there. I still pride myself on being a great dishwasher, and when the situation requires, I roll up my sleeves and start scrubbing. A chef needs to be able to hold his or her own on the line.
One of the reasons I opened a small restaurant was so that I would still be able to cook. The bigger the restaurant, the less time the chef spends cooking. The reason I am a chef is that I love to cook. And not just fancy stuff. And not just the creative process. But everyday, getting slammed on the line, board full of white chits, every burner full and blazing, customers lined up out the door cooking. Line cooks get off on that rush. It is not just the high-faluting cheffing that we aspire to, but the day in day out fire and knives cooking that we love.
So Ben, you who are too good to line cook, good-bye. The world needs more cooks and fewer chefs.