Marcella Hazan, the well-known food writer, has some wise words about "chefs" in her op-ed column yesterday in The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/opinion/29hazan.html?scp=1&sq=No%20Chefs%20In%20My%20Kitchen&st=cseThe word "chef," she observes, has come to replace "gourmet cook" in the minds of foodies and others, blurring its meaning as a job title for a professional who runs a kitchen's "brigade" but may or may not actually cook.It's a relevant column in part at least because in recent years, chefs have gained more stature than ever before and also have become the objects of more 'hype' than perhaps ever in the history of cooking.That's not to diminish the role of the professional chef in any way. In fact, it may say more about foodies and the general public than anything else.But Hazan's point is well taken that "what matters about food is what happens when we put it into our mouths."A competent home cook, she observes, can achieve the same results as the well-trained chef at "turning that first bite into a blissful moment."The food prepared at home, she points out, can be "a solid center for our lives," bringing families together, creating connection," and offering a very personal experience that can transcend "the clamor" of dining out or "facelessness" of takeout."What experience of food," she asks, "can compare with eating something good made by someone you can hug?"There's undoubtedly a lesson in all of this about what chefs and cooks might do to merit "hugs" from their customers. Food prepared with love does not have to come out of only home kitchens!When professionals give of themselves, the results are also better, and provide more compelling reasons for customers to return again and again. Maybe a sub-slogan of "A Fine Time to Dine" could be "Hug a Chef Today!"