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Chef's Jackets at Home


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A few years ago I ran across a cheap chef's jacket while out shopping, and picked it up on a whim. Note that I'm certainly no chef, or even a line cook, so I have no professional reason to wear one of these, let alone while cooking at home. I wore it once. It felt... silly. Any home cooks out there who regularly wear a chef's jacket at home? Why do you prefer a chef's jacket over a regular apron? Is it more practical in your home kitchen, do you like the look? Does it make you feel like a professional chef?

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I don't wear one at home (but I don't wear an apron at home either). I never wear one outside of the restaurant except when catering. I don't see anything weird about doing it though. It's an article of clothing designed to be worn while cooking. If someone wants to wear one in their home while they're cooking, go for it. I'm just more of a comfort-over-style type of person when I can get away with it.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I own several chef's coats, acquired over the years in various ways (e.g., I have one from the French Culinary Institue/International Culinary Center because I'm teaching a class there, I have one from Joe Fortes restaurant in Vancouver because chef Brian Fowke gave it to me -- I also have one of Gray Kunz's monogrammed aprons from Lespinasse but that's a different story). I have found that chef's coats are categorically superior to aprons because they shield the entire upper body not just the chest and belly areas. So if you're wearing, say, a white shirt, a chef's coat protects the neck, sleeves and everything. An apron leaves the neck and sleeves exposed to splatters. You won't find me wearing a chef's coat at home often -- most of the time I'm wearing cheap t-shirts that are more disposable and easier to clean than a chef's coat anyway -- but whenever I'm hosting an event where I need to wear nice clothes I put on a chef's coat to protect my clothes. I should add that, in restaurants, cooks tend to wear both a chef's coat and a waist apron. And a side towel. I'm a big fan of those too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have used a variation of a chef jacket on occasion. My dad was a butcher and still has lots of the white coats that are similar to a chef jacket with buttons down the front versus off-set. They are longer than a chef jacket protecting also from waist to mid thigh. I stick hand towels half-way into the pockets. I have used them primarily when doing the prep, set-up and finishing touches for a function right over my party clothes. They are thick enough that splatters and squirts don't penetrate and it looks neat and clean.

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Fall, winter and early spring, I'm especially partial to a particular sweatshirt (let's face it, when you keep the heat at 63 degrees F, it's nipping in the house). This sweatshirt is big, and long, and the sleeves are longer than they should be, and are often rolled up. I must add that The Sweatshirt is also my painting sweatshirt, and bears the stains of every room I've ever painted. But, what I really like is that when I need potholders, I can simply unroll the sleeves, and voila!.

I, too, have a chef's jacket, but if the cooking is going to get messy, I'm probably already wearing a painting shirt. Since I refuse to buy shorts o pants without pockets, where to put a towel is not a problem. The chef's jacket is, well, white, and I have enough laundry!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I have a few chef's jackets, remnants of my cooking school days, but only wear them when cooking at a catering event. I like the way they protect my arms, but they also make me way too warm in the kitchen.

AT home, it's a ratty T-shirt, with one of my dozens of aprons, usually the over the head kind.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I own a couple of Chef’s coats, but they’re more for display than practical use in my kitchen. One is from a benefit cook-off I did a few years back where I was the emcee of an “Iron Chef” type of event among cooks from Eastern, Washington. It’s blue, not my favorite color for a Chef’s coat-and has embroidered logos from the event sponsors. It would be sort of out of place if I wore it at home or during a party.

My other Chef’s coat was given to me by the Wynn Las Vegas and is autographed by all the Chef’s of the Wynn. It’s the standard white Chef’s coat, but given the impressive line-up of autographs, I wouldn’t want to dirty it up in the kitchen-and my culinary skills certainly don’t measure up to the likes of Paul Bartolotta and Alex Stratta. I’d feel pretty silly if I was wearing a Chef’s coat with those names on it while I was stirring a pot of chili at home.

I made the decision years ago that whenever I cooked on television that I wouldn’t wear a Chef’s coat. I was constantly questioned by the Director’s as to why I didn’t wear one. I’m not a professional restaurant cook, so I didn’t want to project an image of one. Most importantly, I wanted to project a more relaxed “home-cook” type of image that I felt more closely mirrored the cooking skills of my audience.

But I must admit, I have recently thought about buying a Chef’s coat to use when I’m cooking at home. I’m terribly careless when I cook in an old t-shirt and shorts-not the best protection when I’m frying Walla Walla onion rings or degalizing apples with brandy!

While I don’t like feeling totally covered-up with the heavy fabric of most Chef’s coats-and I like to be cool (temperature-wise), in the kitchen-I see a Chef’s coat as a practical garment that would give me some protection. (And it just might make me feel like a better cook).

I think this topic has given me cause to get to the restaurant supply store this weekend to see what kind of Chef’s coats are in stock!

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I have used a variation of a chef jacket on occasion. My dad was a butcher and still has lots of the white coats that are similar to a chef jacket with buttons down the front versus off-set.  They are longer than a chef jacket protecting also from waist to mid thigh. I stick hand towels half-way into the pockets. I have used them primarily when doing the prep, set-up and finishing touches for a function right over my party clothes. They are thick enough that splatters and squirts don't penetrate and it looks neat and clean.

The butcher jacket is not unlike a doctors lab coat. I have a couple of old lab coats I wear at home when cooking when I want to keep my cloths clean. Most of the time it's old stained tees or as I call them my cooking shirts.

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I got one as a gift several years ago, and I never wear it. Like many others t-shirts and old pants are my togs for cooking at home. The one I have is very nice, and I would be happy to wear it if I cooked professionally. Wearing it at home is an affectation I just can't do.

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I have a white chef's coat because a friend who was in culinary school gave it to me. The only time I wear it at home is when I am making wedding cake. I am a pretty good amateur baker/cook and occasionally my gift to the bride will be the wedding cake. Then I wear the coat and a pair of checked cooks pants and deliver the cake in it. The frosting comes out in the wash and I don't screw up any of my other clothes. I only do that when I'm cooking for the family (screw up my clothes, I mean).

Ellen

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I have several from back when I cooked professionally, but I virtually never wear them anymore. Just seems like unnecessary pomp and circumstance to put one on for the home kitchen.

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I own a chef's jacket, but it hangs in the closet. I'm a hardcore apron fetishist and my husband belongs to the "Let's see how many nice shirts I can wreck with cooking grease" school.

My mother became a convert to the chef's jacket when she received one as a gift in her late sixties, perhaps because she had an expensive wardrobe! She swore by it.

Edited by maggiethecat (log)

Margaret McArthur

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1912-2008

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Whatever consenting adults wear, or don't wear, when they cook and eat at home is fine by me.

The classic European Chef's uniform has some practical features, but it's also loaded with old-school meaning and messages. A metre-high pleated toque, for instance, isn't much of a hair net but it sure says who sees themselves as a king on the chess board.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

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. . . my husband belongs to the "Let's see how many nice shirts I can  wreck with cooking grease" school.

. . . .

I went to that school, too! I have two chef's jackets, which I wear (not at the same time) when I'm teaching classes. If I wore one in my own kitchen, I'd laugh myself out of the room.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Shorts and a t-shirt [my regular attire], don't own a real chef's jacket,

BUT, I do have a curious snap-neck pullover smock in cotton or similar non synthetic feeling fabric. It has some "Chef's wear" label in it [it came from the second hand store] and I like to quickly don it when fat is spitting and flying. Beats the 'fleabite' burns on the otherwise bare arms. If I could work out what it was supposed to be I'd buy another in a heartbeat.

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I am in the T shirt camp. I have "bake shirts" that are really messy old t shirts that I put on. They are comfy and I don't care if they get messy. I don't really own a chef's jacket, but if I had one, I would give it a shot and wear it, just for the fun of it, really.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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A cousin of mine sent me a Chef's jacket from America, with my forename embroidered on it.

I have never seen anything so white, so well cut and have such an effect on ladies of a certain age.

we should wear them all the time. :biggrin:

Martial.2,500 Years ago:

If pale beans bubble for you in a red earthenware pot, you can often decline the dinners of sumptuous hosts.

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years ago ,,My brother worked at a uniform supply company. He gave me a chefs jacket and the Toque as a humorus gift....I wear them to prepare holiday dinners from time to time....That is the only time..Fun..

Bud

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Wearing a chef's jacket at home to me would seem... I dunno, arrogant or something. I own serveral from cooking in restaurants in the past (5+ years ago, before I began my career) as a line cook / garde manger cook, but I would never consider wearing one of them to cook behind my stove at home. I generally wear a navy blue, striped apron through, typical in Europe.

I'm sure if i were to toss on a chef's jacket, my family and friends would all throw things at me, and possibly punch me in various places.

No offence to anyone that DOES feel comfortable wearing one -- it just doesn't suit my personality.

I DO wear Crocs (also navy blue) in the kitchen at home though as a safety precaution. Boiling liquid on the feet doesn't tickle.

Edited by Jamon.Iberico (log)
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No chef's coat at home. I would feel mighty silly, though there actually are times it would make sense. I do have a handful of aprons that I don't wear quite as often as would be prudent. Got a spiffy black-with-thin-white-stripe one recently for my birthday. But I seem to avoid wearing it most of the time, too. Shoes - always. Okay, almost always.

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I'm seeing words like "arrogant," "affectation," and "silly" used to describe the practice of wearing a chef's coat in the home kitchen. That, my friends, is "nonsense."

Perhaps it would be an affectation to don an entire chef's uniform, including a tall toque, to prepare dinner for the family. But I think we have established that a chef's coat is above all a practical garment that protects the body and clothes from splatters and stains -- and does a far better job of it than an apron. In this regard, using a chef's coat at home is the same as using any appropriate piece of professional cooking equipment at home: it's smart.

I'm not sure what motivates people to feel uncomfortable wearing a practical kitchen garment at home, and I'm not here to speculate as to motivation. But there's certainly no good reason to feel uncomfortable.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm seeing words like "arrogant," "affectation," and "silly" used to describe the practice of wearing a chef's coat in the home kitchen. That, my friends, is "nonsense."

Perhaps it would be an affectation to don an entire chef's uniform, including a tall toque, to prepare dinner for the family. But I think we have established that a chef's coat is above all a practical garment that protects the body and clothes from splatters and stains -- and does a far better job of it than an apron. In this regard, using a chef's coat at home is the same as using any appropriate piece of professional cooking equipment at home: it's smart.

I'm not sure what motivates people to feel uncomfortable wearing a practical kitchen garment at home, and I'm not here to speculate as to motivation. But there's certainly no good reason to feel uncomfortable.

I don't think people's avoidance and discomfort about the idea of wearing a chef's coat at home, despite the fact that they may see them as practical, is "nonesense". It's just what it is. Most members posting in this topic don't wear a chef's coat at home. You don't most of the time.

Perhaps it's because the chef's coat is a symbol of a profession, a uniform, and "home" and "uniform" don't quite go together. There is not just a clothing change, but a symbolic role shift that may go on. Similarly, a fire-retardant race car driver jump-suit and helmet would be a more effective and protective piece of clothing when driving to the office or the grocery store, but most of us would feel a little odd doing it.

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Exactly. I own a chef's jacket because I've worked in professional kitchens.

I wouldn't toss on a firefighter's uniform to light a fire in my fireplace either. Both because I'd feel like a twat, and because I'd feel it was a sign of disrespect to the uniform.

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