The Chefs Code of Ethics

Most professional organizations have a code of ethics, and that includes chefs and cooks. Why is this important, and why do we need to take a closer look at this? We are living in an unusual time, were ethics in any manner are seemingly lost.

Many organizations use the phrases ethical code and code of conduct interchangeably but it may be useful to make a distinction. A code of ethics will start by setting out the values that underpin the code and will describe an organization’s obligation to its stakeholders. The code is publicly available and addressed to anyone with an interest in that organization’s activities and the way it operates. It will include details of how the organization plans to implement its values and vision, as well as guidance to staff on ethical standards and how to achieve them. However, a code of conduct is generally addressed to and intended for the organization’s leaders and staff. It usually sets out restrictions on behavior, and will be far more focused on compliance or rules than on values or principles.

In our industry there are a number of organizations that have standardized code of ethics, here is one example.

United States American Culinary Federation.

Code of Ethics:
As a member of the ACF, I pledge myself to:
 Conduct myself with honesty, integrity and fairness.
 Strive to provide all services competently.
 Provide professional service in a manner that does not discriminate others on the basis of race,
ethnicity, creed, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation or national origin.
 Not engage in sexual harassment, disrespectful or abusing behavior.
 Show professional respect for all who work with or in supervision with myself.
 Strive to provide objective evaluations of performance for employees and coworkers,
apprentices, students, professional association members and/or peers and to avoid bias in any
kind of professional evaluation of others.
 Be alert to situations that might cause a conflict of interest or have the appearance of a conflict
and provides full disclosure when a real or potential conflict of interest arises.
 Not to promote or endorse products that are false and misleading.

not engage in substance abuse that could adversely affect my job performance or endanger coworkers.
 Strive to comply with all applicable laws and regulations concerning the culinary profession
including local, state and federal statutes that promote public health and safety.
 Collaborate with others to create a work environment that minimizes risk to the personal health
and safety of our colleagues.
 Support the efforts of other professional cooks and chefs to learn new and innovative culinary
techniques and improve my knowledge and skills.
 Not to discriminate in making employment decisions regardless of race, color, national origin,
gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation or marital or family status.
 Not knowingly misappropriate, divert or use monies, personnel, property or equipment
belonging to others for personal gain or advantage.
 Not harm others by knowingly making false statements about a colleague or professional peer.
 Accurately represent my professional training and qualifications and not knowingly permit aid,
abet or suffer the misstatement of my training and qualifications by others.
 Not to plagiarize on another person’s printed, audio or visual recordings or using them publicly
as original materials, including cookbooks that may be governed by copyright laws.

That’s a long list, similar organizations like the toque blanche, World association of cooks, and the Canadian CCI, have similar models. In addition there is a standard model code of ethics that began with the “guilds” formed during the Assyrian empire period. They were a little more concerned with the quality produced by certain trades, like cooks, bakers and other artisans. Today many of these value systems are gone, a reflection of the world we live in today. In my opinion the respect I had to show for my craft and peers is gone. Sad really. I have written extensively on topics related to this over the last many months; have a look. I look forward in this new paradigm to a return to earlier years. Cheers, and happy Friday!