Welcome Update #25


Bethany Schoeff, Columnist

Many of you… ok, maybe some of you… no, a minor few of you might be wondering about the name of my column. I thought that I would take this opportunity to explain the reasoning behind it.

Chez [shā] is French. It is most commonly used to indicate location or destination; it means “to/at the place of.” (For example: Je vais chez vous. = I am going to your house. Il est chez le dentiste. = He is at the dentist’s office.) Chez is often applied, even in the U.S., to a restaurant name: Chez Francois = Frank’s (restaurant0. I took French in school from sixth to twelfth grade, and even participated in a student exchange program. I lived with a family in Caen, France for a month when I was 17. Foreign language was not a requirement for me in college, so French was quickly forgotten after high school. That is, until my junior year, when my college choir was scheduled to tour in France. I thought it would be beneficial to take a refresher course to ease communication overseas. The French class plus the trip back to France made me realize how much I missed it: the country, the culture, the language, the history. It was not my first major (I switched three times!), but I finished college with a Bachelor’s degree in French, and a minor in music. And, although I’m not currently utilizing this education in a career, I still like to find ways to draw on my experiences and training whenever possible. 

Chef [shef] comes from French (it is a shortened form of chef de cuisine, or ‘head of the kitchen’). I was a little worried to use this in my title, seeing as I have no culinary training, nor do I run a professional kitchen. However, the definition has come to also mean ‘any cook.’ I do consider myself to be fairly experienced in the kitchen, and very knowledgeable about food allergies and finding food allergen substitutes. Even so, I probably would not have used it in my column if it weren’t for the next word:

Schoeff [shef] is the name I took when I married my husband. It is pronounced the same as ‘chef’ and therefore creates a cute redundancy. The name’s homophone results in much humor in our family. An apron my mother-in-law made says, “What’s cookin’? Ask the Schoeff!” It seemed only natural to pair my last name with ‘chef’ at some point. I always knew that, if I ever opened a restaurant, ‘Chef Schoeff’ would be its name. That scenario is unlikely, so for now I shall hang my title here at Palmer Grove.

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