Chefs Whites

Food — Tags: , — By Crust on March 20, 2009

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Kitchen whites, are they just for hotel cooks and old men? No, but I refuse to wear a paper hat or a neckercheif, fuck that, I’m new school. We wore t-shirts at the last restaurant I worked at and it made me question wearing whites. I asked around to my cook friends and most of them said that they still like whites. One of them said that when he was in Portland he saw a reputable chef wearing a shirt and tie with an apron. At another restaurant the cooks were dressed in hipster looking clothes and skate t-shirts. T-shirts are okay if you are in the basement of a restaurant during the hot summer, but not in an upscale bistro with an open kitchen. Or maybe it is okay, I don’t know.
Lots of cooks now days wear dish washer jackets, as a sign of humility and also for the light comforable material. Kyle loves putting on his whites in the lockerroom and looking in the mirror and getting his ‘game face’ on. A nice crisp jacket and clean apron can make you feel ready for anything on a Friday night. It is easy to feel a little disjointed cooking in a t-shirt. Plus they have some super nice whites available these days if you order from the right people (Bragard, Clement). I think it also depends on if your restauant has a linen service.
Some restaurants have a linen service, this keeps the whites clean and crisp. When one restaurant first opened they had the nicest short sleeved whites in the softest material that said the restaurant name on them, they felt like quality. I still remember how happy I was to get my first jersey. They never had a linen service for their whites and so after 6 months of the cooks washing their jerseys at home in shitty apartment washing machines they all turned stained and grey. Eventually we all just started wearing t-shirts. I was used to wearing a large jersey and when I saw that the guys had t-shirts I was stoked because I usually wear my boyfriend’s big t-shirts when I go out anyway. They gave me my shirt and it was a girls t-shirt, super tight with capped sleaves. I was so pissed. I was on meats and when I would skim my stocks the tender skin just before my armpit would hit the hot edge of the large stock pot. In the walkin it was so much colder in my tiny T. I missed my whites then, but eventually I got used to my shirt and started liking it.
People say that a linen service for cooks is a waste of money, but it is more of a waste of money to order a bunch of whites that without proper drycleaning look fucked after 6 months. T-shirts are easy to wash at home, but nothing beats a nice crisp jersey.

9 Comments

  1. Jessica says:

    at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal they wear navy blue mechanics jackets with their names on them on those little old school sew-on patches.

    I like whites…it’s a shift in attitude when you change, and then a shift in headspace when you change back into civvies.

  2. mum says:

    you should proofread b4 hitting send…I just got home from drinks with the girls and i couldn’t get my car out of the parkade because the gates were locked. Anita gave me a ride home…I miss you..

  3. Silvaplate says:

    I wore a tshirt in the kitchen for st patty’s day, and i forgot how comfortable it is to cook without my whites. I’m a big fan of mechanic jackets, and short sleeved chef whites. I roll my sleeves up, it just doesn’t feel comfortable with the sleeves down. I’ll tell you what though, khaki coloured chef coats are awfull.

  4. Matt R. says:

    Word up to whites. Not only do they look professional rather than sloppy, they help you to change your attitude before shift, leaving your baggage where it belongs – at the door.

  5. Crust says:

    They have khaki colored chef coats at Voya! They are dickies but they are pretty ugly.

  6. Tamara says:

    This sounds sort of like the argument for and against lab coats. When I have supervisors who insist on the wearing of lab coats for ‘professional’ reasons, I rebel and hate them, but when I’m given the option, sometimes I’ll decide to throw one on. Most times I think they look sort of stuffy and elitist, but other times they make you feel a bit more pulled together and knowledgeable.
    Also like whites, it’s all in where you buy them. I had to shell out twice what a fucking lab coat should cost just to get one that fit properly.

  7. Crust says:

    I love you doctor Teej!

  8. Tamara says:

    I love you too, and sorry for bringing the nerd out in full force.

  9. Todd says:

    T shirts all the way. There are so many soul sucking things you and I must conform to while running a restaurant, you need a little wiggle room, therefore the kitchen staff can where what they want. Also I find the whole uniform thing and call me ‘chef’ attitude a symptom of an unhealthy identification with power or a delicate ego. Also, Jessica, it does help one of Canada’s raddest restaurants breaks with stuffy convention.

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