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Clothing Etiquette for Chefs v. Non-Chefs


gfron1
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Are there any rules for what someone should/can wear in the kitchen related to how it relates to training and education. As a self-taught, untrained person, are there any chef's jackets/shirts that would be inappropriate for me to wear in my commercial kitchen?

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If it is your own kitchen, then no. If you are starting in someone else's kitchen, in an entry level position, dress as the other plebes.

Edited by TJHarris (log)

Tobin

It is all about respect; for the ingredient, for the process, for each other, for the profession.

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When I went to the Wybauw class at the French Pastry School they insisted we wear a chef's jacket. I was worried I'd be exposed as a fraud, since I didn't think I was 'entitled' to wear one. By the end of three days I was getting over it.

So that being said, I'm thinking of starting to wear one when I teach chocolate classes, saves the decision what to wear and keeps the civies clean.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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I think the point is it is a cook's jacket. The chef is the chief cook and he also wears a cook's jacket but all in the kitchen know he is the CHEF.

So, wear one, it will keep you clean and in a hot kitchen may even keep you from being badly burned.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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I think the point is it is a cook's jacket.  The chef is the chief cook and he also wears a cook's jacket but all in the kitchen know he is the CHEF.

So, wear one, it will keep you clean and in a hot kitchen may even keep you from being badly burned.

Jmahl

keep you from being burned? wow, are they also making bullet proof ones these days?? :raz:

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A white chefs coat, solid colored pants or checks. The chili pants, fishes or whatever pattern are for clowns, and the uber expensive high end chef coats ,while really comfortable, are for really high end chefs.

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I think the thread has become it's own answer. It's a perfect example of do whatever you want there are no hard and fast rules. There are high end chefs who wear the colorful whimsical chef clothing. The expensive coats are for anyone who wants to purchase them. Like the store checks your credentials?

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I think the point is it is a cook's jacket.  The chef is the chief cook and he also wears a cook's jacket but all in the kitchen know he is the CHEF.

So, wear one, it will keep you clean and in a hot kitchen may even keep you from being badly burned.

Jmahl

keep you from being burned? wow, are they also making bullet proof ones these days?? :raz:

He said being BADLY burned, which the initial layer of heavy cloth can absorb a lot of the heat and impact from some spilled liquid or fat. And they can definately help with oven tops, sides, etc.

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I think the point is it is a cook's jacket.  The chef is the chief cook and he also wears a cook's jacket but all in the kitchen know he is the CHEF.

So, wear one, it will keep you clean and in a hot kitchen may even keep you from being badly burned.

Jmahl

keep you from being burned? wow, are they also making bullet proof ones these days?? :raz:

He said being BADLY burned, which the initial layer of heavy cloth can absorb a lot of the heat and impact from some spilled liquid or fat. And they can definately help with oven tops, sides, etc.

Certain kinds, like all cotton maybe/maybe not. I mean it would also hold the heat on your body longer too. But how about the seersucker chef jackets? Chefs from hot weather areas don't always wear the heavy ones.

Now the cloth frog closures are a help to be able to rip it off your body like a chip n dale dancer type presto change-o go the clothes-o. Unless they get frayed/gnarled up in the wash and won't come undone.

Wear any fricken thing you want. :laugh:

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Thanks for all of the replies. I really appreciated the illusion to a karate belt (albeit a joke) because just as I wouldn't wear a black belt into a studio unless I had earned it, I didn't want to step into the kitchen misrepresenting myself. I'll get the whites and put a duct tape name badge that says, "NOT A CHEF" that way there will be full disclosure. Thanks again.

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I think this illustrates the whole chef/not-chef dichotomy-as someone else pointed out, there's only one real chef per kitchen, and lots of other players going by different names/titles. In French, "chef" means a lot of things-department head, bossman-in the French military lower ranks say "OUI CHEF!" and "NON CHEF!" to their NCOs and officers-it's all about command. So these days we have jokers like on "Top Chef"-what are they chefs of? -and other specimens who couldn't run a kitchen if you held a gun to their heads, accorded the title "chef," and on the other hand professional cooks who have all the chops but not the credentials, and they're lumped in with the hash-slingers. Bottom line is, if you work for someone, wear what that person tells you to wear. If you have your own place-hey, you're the boss-the...yes! The chef. Wear what you want. Be happy.

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Do Whatever they want - OR most importantly whatever they wash for you ! I could care less as long is it is cool and is easy to wash. I do get the european check pants and black solid and it seems to be appropriate - but the print pants while cool are way out there

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I think this illustrates the whole chef/not-chef dichotomy-as someone else pointed out, there's only one real chef per kitchen, and lots of other players going by different names/titles. In French, "chef" means a lot of things-department head, bossman-in the French military lower ranks say "OUI CHEF!" and "NON CHEF!" to their NCOs and officers-it's all about command. So these days we have jokers like on "Top Chef"-what are they chefs of? -and other specimens who couldn't run a kitchen if you held a gun to their heads, accorded the title "chef," and on the other hand professional cooks who have all the chops but not the credentials, and they're lumped in with the hash-slingers. Bottom line is, if you work for someone, wear what that person tells you to wear. If you have your own place-hey, you're the boss-the...yes! The chef. Wear what you want. Be happy.

on this tangent, it has always left me laughing working in those schools or restaurants where all the cooks call eah other chef. there is only one chef in the kitchen unless you're doing a benefit...

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When I went to the Wybauw class at the French Pastry School they insisted we wear a chef's jacket.  I was worried I'd be exposed as a fraud, since I didn't think I was 'entitled' to wear one.  By the end of three days I was getting over it. 

I am taking a class at the French Pastry School in September, Kerry, and I'm having the exact same reaction! As a rank (though very ambitious and dedicated) amateur, I don't want to offend any of the real chefs who will be there. But rules is rules.

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I had to wear a chef's coat to class I took a couple of years ago and just couldn't take myself seriously in it. I changed the white buttons for sets of pink and orange and felt much more like my silly chocolate covered self.

I also have a chocolate brown chef's coat I wear for deliveries and such.

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I had to wear a chef's coat to class I took a couple of years ago and just couldn't take myself seriously in it.  I changed the white buttons for sets of pink and orange and felt much more like my silly chocolate covered self.

I also have a chocolate brown chef's coat I wear for deliveries and such.

Exactly, you said it. It was truly difficult to take myself seriously. That's why I wear jewelry on mine. But then I kinda got into it, for deliveries only though. People kind of make way for you becaue then people take you seriously. It does break the ice. It speaks for you. Duff wears his Food Network one on deliveries.

I honestly don't think it offends a chef for somone else to wear one. It's been my experience that chefs who don't wear them might tend more to roll their eyes at those who do, vice versa maybe. But I don't think there's an offense in wearing or not wearing. It's neither irreverent nor pious it's professional. It's cool.

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First off - it's your own kitchen, wear whatever you want!

And, chefs coats are simply uniforms worn by professional cooks and chefs. Chefs usually wear cleaner/nicer versions, oftentimes with names embroidered and made of high quality cotton. Even so, regardless of who has the nicer coat - once the cooking starts - well it becomes apparent who is who in the kitchen pretty quickly.

Wasn't so long ago that a chefs rank was determined by height of hat, not if they were wearing a coat.

I agree with the folks who say wear a nice coat one for deliveries, meeting with the public, etc. because thats what the public who watch the food TV channel seem to think "real" chefs wear. You can personalize it somewhat, but keep it discreet and above all - keep it safe.

By the way, this question seems to arise from how modern Americans define what makes a person a chef these days. Is it training? Education? Experience? Where did you all get your definitions of chef?

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If going into a stage situation at a restaurant, definitely stay away from jackets with your name embroidered on the chest. Thats most often reserved for the chef or others higher up who have earned it. Just my $.02.

-Chef Johnny

John Maher
Executive Chef/Owner
The Rogue Gentlemen

Richmond, VA

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I think you should sport some chef pants with chili pepper prints, a denim chef's jacket, orange clogs, and one of those cool puffy white hats. Have you ever worn a knife belt? You can never have enough fashion in the kitchen. :biggrin:

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I never thought much about the chef coat thing, unless it is high end, embroidered and showy.

I look at the chef coat not as being an impersonator but necessary "equipment" to do the job.

Do pursue appropriate chef pants in a classic solid black (maybe a pinstripe is fine) and a plain, ordinary chef coat, with a tee underneath. Often kitchens will provide chef coats, so the tee and chef pants are a given.

Also don't forget the nonskid shoes that cover your entire socked foot.

And a ball cap, hair carefully tucked away.

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