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gfron1

Lefties in the kitchen

13 posts in this topic

I know this isn't exclusive to the restaurant world, but the consequences are different, hence this forum.

 

I've had the worst luck with lefties in my kitchen.  They can't seem to fold batters without deflating.  They are sloppy choppers.  They cut themselves - a lot!  A general klutziness.  I'm basing this on a half dozen lefties over the past 6 years.  I have had some of these issues with righties, but every lefty has had all of these issues.

 

Has anyone else had this problem?  Is there anything that can be done beyond buying left-handed appliances when available?  I won't mention it - but is it illegal to not hire someone because they're left handed?

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Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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You've probably just had bad luck with the left-handed people you've hired. I'm left-handed, and so is my boyfriend, and neither of us is more accident prone than most, and we're both more coordinated than many (few enter the kitchen when I'm working, since I'm draconian about sloppiness and carelessness). In fact, the general habits of most of the left-handed people I know (and I know quite a few) might best be described as 'precise'.

 

Screening new hires more carefully for their actual fitness in a kitchen would make more sense than considering not hiring the left-handed applicants.

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Rob! Awesome to see you here again! Anyway, I wanted to try to be helpful here because I'm technically a lefty and I don't have any of those difficulties you've mentioned. That would be relevant since I've been working in restaurant kitchens for a fairly long time except for one problem... my brain seems to have some sort of cross-wiring going on or something. I write left handed, hold a fork, spoon, etc. left handed, play guitar left handed but for reasons unknown to me, I do all sports stuff (throw, golf, bat, etc,) right handed. And, despite using my eating utensils left handed, I use my kitchen knives right handed. I have no explanation as to how my body/mind chooses which things it will do with which hand, I just go with it. But I definitely don't have any particular difficulties with precision, speed or being injury prone.

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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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Hmmm....being so isolated I just assumed this issue was the norm.  Mjx, I know you're right but the pickins are so slim here that I do have the best of the best.    And Thanks Larry!


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Hi, Rob!

 

I'm left-handed but my husband is not. Lately, he's the one who has hurt himself (cut, burned) in the kitchen. The two appliances that I seem to struggle more with are the (manual) can opener and the handheld mixer. I know there are left-handed can openers, but every one I've ever seen has been a piece of junk compared to the heavier-duty "normal" versions, so I struggle. The mixer cord annoys me, but my mixer issues stem more from having trouble pushing the beaters in securely...and I always put the bowl on a piece of nonskid so I can let go of the bowl and move the cord out of the way as needed. As long as I have sufficient elbow room on the proper side, I have no issues folding batters. As long as my knives are sharp (and as long as I'm not trying to use the one knife in my husband's knife drawer with a distinctly right-handed handle), I can chop without cutting myself or anything else that isn't supposed to be chopped. I think you've just had a coincidence. Don't distrust us all. And remember that we often use the "other" side of the vegetable peeler, so you can actually keep the same one for twice as long!

 

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Ah, the arrogance of right handed people! Including my husband. Although secretly he is in awe of us lefties. I rarely have kitchen accidents of any kind and I do all the cooking in the house. My husband can bake bread like nobody's business but his knife skills are pretty bad. Left handed people have a long history of learning to adapt to less than perfect tools and that is a plus when it comes to solving kitchen problems of all kinds. I use left handed scissors, which make a big difference. The single most important left handed utensil I own is a ladle, with the lip on the correct side. A right handed soup ladle is a worthless piece of crap! It occurs to me that my husband, when he dishes up his own portion of soup, has never complained about the ladle, so he earns my admiration for either a brilliant adjustment or being silent in the face of adversity. I don't remember seeing an ambi soup ladle, with two lips instead of one, but they must exist for mixed hand couples.

 

But the worst decision we ever made (he convinced me it was a great idea, and I never imagined how inconvenient it would be) was a right handed FAUCET arrangement. The stem of the faucet was actually left of center at the back. Just think about that for a minute. I was always having to work AROUND the stream of water and my left sleeve was often soaked as a result. Such a great day when we got rid of that thing.

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My apologies.  Let's try this a different way.  What accommodations are common in a restaurant kitchen to assist lefties?


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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I'm a southpaw and there are definitely some things in kitchens that are designed for R-handers more than L-handers - serrated knives have the serrations on the wrong side for things like bread-slicing, manual can-openers are a super-pain, ladles pour the wrong way, measuring marks on cups or pots often can't be read while holding in the left hand, and spatulas are always slanted the wrong way (is this the problem with the batter-folding that you mentioned, by any chance?). 

 

I bet i organize my home kitchen differently than a R-hander would. I prefer my spoons and ladles and tongs handy to my left hand while cooking. I stand to the right when using the controls on a right-handed appliance like a microwave or a toaster oven, while a R-hander stands comfortably in front. If I'm chopping a bunch of veggies, I want to direct the end results to the left in most cases, not the right. 

 

If you have a tight kitchen and it's set up for right-handed work, a southpaw might find it more awkward to do the same tasks. Their ideal work flow will be a bit different. 

 

There are some nice kitchen tools for south-paws. If I worked in a kitchen I would probably bring some of my own knives with me. Check out web sites like Lefty's in San Francisco or Anything Left Handed in the UK to see why these might be beneficial. 

 

http://www.leftyslefthanded.com/Lefthanded_Kitchen_Tools_s/3.htm

 

http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/videos/kitchen-tools.html#sthash.hsPIUqer.dpbs

 

Try working in your kitchen with your left hand for a few minutes at several different tasks, I bet you'll see how some things differ. I don't think you'll find many left-handed appliances, by the way. And I'm not sure why your L-handers seem to be bad at chopping or cut themselves a lot, but you could encourage them to try bevelled blades for L-handers? (thought I wouldn't think this would be necessary, in most cases)

 

http://www.amazon.com/Shun-DM0706L-Classic-Left-Handed-Stainless-Steel/dp/B000FR5TB8

 

http://www.anythinglefthanded.co.uk/acatalog/chef_knives.html

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That's extremely helpful and it reminded me that because I'm in such a remote little town my staff rarely have experience except in town, and often nothing more than home experience, so that they may not even know enough to suggest changes in our kitchen - which is small.  Thanks.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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I know this isn't exclusive to the restaurant world, but the consequences are different, hence this forum.

 

I've had the worst luck with lefties in my kitchen.  They can't seem to fold batters without deflating.  They are sloppy choppers.  They cut themselves - a lot!  A general klutziness.  I'm basing this on a half dozen lefties over the past 6 years.  I have had some of these issues with righties, but every lefty has had all of these issues.

 

Has anyone else had this problem?  Is there anything that can be done beyond buying left-handed appliances when available?  I won't mention it - but is it illegal to not hire someone because they're left handed?

I'm left-handed. While I don't have any experience cooking professionally, I've never had any of the issues you've mentioned.

Maybe the real issue is that the people you've hired weren't very skilled, not because of their handedness.

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Rob!!!!  Mwah, mwah, mwah!!!!  Good to "see" you!  To the topic – I’m like Tri2Cook only officially left-handed.  Mr. Kim is completely left-handed.  I’m not at all kitchen-clumsy and he is like Frankenstein trying to do the minuet.  So you may have something there.  But, no, you can’t summarily not hire lefties, ‘cause then you’d miss ones like all of us! :raz:

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Point has been taken.  I have just been on a rut of leftie bums.  I need a leftie angel now to show me the light!  BTW, just this morning my current left cut an existing cut and after yelling said, "I hate right handed kitchens!"  I asked what made it right handed and he said all the gadgets...  :/  Not sure what to say since a julienne peeler that he was using is symmetrical. 


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Not sure what to say since a julienne peeler that he was using is symmetrical. 

What I would probably say in that particular case is "suck it up muffin, a peeler doesn't cut anything other than what the user applies it to". Probably not the best reply but I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who can never just say "oops, my mistake" and instead look for something/someone else to blame.

 

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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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