That the sous-chef currently being sought by Buckingham Palace should have a "good understanding of kitchen French" might prompt some cynics to wonder why the royal request should sound quite so disparaging.

It's as though "kitchen French" is somehow less posh than classic, quite suitable for the lowly position of household cook, and therefore the only form that would be acceptable in the Queen's cuisine.

The reality could not be more different. British cooking, currently undergoing a well-documented revival, is underpinned by the technical terminology that can only come from classical French training. Almost all of the top chefs in the UK are either French themselves or were the proteges of Frenchmen and are fluent in the language. Andrew Fairlie, Martin Wishart and Brian Maule were mentored by the Roux brothers, along with Marco Pierre White. Tom Kitchin's mentor is the French chef Pierre Koffmann, whose former students also include Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing. Even Rene Redzepi of Noma – the Danish-Albanian godfather of Nordic cuisine – was classically trained at the three-star Le Jardin Des Sens in Montpellier. And anyone who watches MasterChef will know that the rudiments of how to make a roux, a choux, a mousse and a souffle are de rigueur for all contestants, many of whom harbour ambitions of becoming professionals themselves.

Menus are either Degustation or Du Marche. Compared to them, Tasting and Market somehow sound a bit pedestrian.

There have been attempts at wresting back some patrician dignity into dishes on menus across the country, but somehow burnt toffee cream just sounds like a mistake. Executing the perfect creme brulee is a culinary art, and given that there are two "e"s on brulee, it shows that kitchen French is some way above Standard Grade.

In professional kitchens across Scotland, you'll hear staff shout "oui, chef" in syncopated response to every barked-out command from the boss. It can be quite mesmeric to hear the master call and his disciples follow.

Much as a trainee priest has to learn Latin, the would-be chef has to learn French. And like a priest, any chef worth his salt must take the vow of obedience to his master for life.

Kitchin's new BBC TV series says it all, really. It's called Chef's Protege and in it he goes back to Perth College to select one student to be mentored by him and Koffmann for a year. He told me that cooking today is all about learning from "les grands chefs" who often play psychological mind-games with their trainees to break their spirit, and to rebuild them in their own image, as it were. He'd be reluctant to pass on his hard-earned knowledge to a chef he doesn't like and who doesn't play ball. Nobody is allowed to be a prima donna; everyone must muck in.

Paraphrasing his own mentor, Kitchin said: "Chefs should remember what we are. We are cooks. We are peasants." Maybe that's what Buckingham Palace knew all along.