Cooks appear to have come into existence in the late archaic period. Cookery in Athens and other Greek cities of the classical period had become a recognised art or skill (techne) and cooks were freelance, remunerated tradesmen. Professional cooks (mageiroi) were typically free men rather than slaves. Chosen by reputation, recommendation or price, they were not required every day, but only at a dinner party or sacrifice. They helped select a sacrificial animal, sacrifice it, prepared the meal that followed, and resold the meat that was not consumed. In Rome, cookery became a slave profession as large Roman establishments, from imperial households downwards, needed cooks every day.
linguist and historian
‘Food in the Ancient World from A to Z’