From Premium Basic Chef Coats with an arm and breast pocket to Cargo Chef Pants boasting seven pockets in arms reach, pockets abound on any chef’s attire. With personal preferences ranging from a total of 3-10 pockets per uniform, just what could a chef possibly need in all those hidden compartments? After all, they do presumably have an entire kitchen at their disposal. The truth is, some culinary wizards may just choose to take those secrets to their grave. But, others are willing to divulge just as any renowned magician might.
Pants pockets, chef coats, and aprons give chefs and cooks alike places to put all those little nuisances distracting them from the one task needing the most focus. Any trained chef knows they will have time to put these distractions in the rightful place at the end of the night when chores move them near such spots in the kitchen. While many contents of chef pockets are obviously functional, some might surprise you more than others.
During the rush of busy service, chefs need certain tools within reach at a second’s notice. Arm pockets have the universal appeal of holding pens, pencils, and thermometers. The back pants pocket is the probable home of a small notepad or, for the tech savvy, a smartphone. Menu changes and recipe tweaks come in full view as hindsight is 20/20, so a place to write these down before escaping memory is essential for any chef. Pocket knives for slicing open boxes and other quick tasks are also a popular resident of the chef pocket.
Every great business person is prepared at any moment for those opportunities which arise unexpectedly to market oneself or business, the same is true for great chefs. Therefore, business cards and a waterproof watch for keeping appointments are no brainers in pocket stock. You might even find a pocket comb amongst those with a coif to keep tidy when a table wants to talk to their chef.
Chef Susan Feniger, of Borden Grill, admits that “Before lunch service, I walk down the line with a pocket full of spoons and begin to taste each item on each station.”. Other chefs prefer pokey tools for quick checks of food doneness and keep several in pocket. A small pepper mill or whole nutmeg might even be hiding within the cloth, for those moments when a quick sprinkle is necessary.
As with any great sports player, good luck charms make their way onto chef uniforms as well. Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin says, “I always carry a small Buddha or Ganesh in my pocket…For some reason I feel protected.”. From lucky coins to religious artifacts, you might be surprised how common these are in the culinary world.
No matter the number or size of the pockets, their contents will always carry some mystery for diners. Hopefully this little glimpse into the pockets of chefs is enough to satisfy your curious appetite.