A reader wrote last week asking if there were any food code policies against short sleeved shirts. Christina didn’t elaborate but I presume that she or someone else wants to wear a short sleeve shirt and management disapproves.
I was unable to find any actually code against the short sleever. And, American Linen, U.S. Linen and most linen supply companies do supply short sleeve shirts in their catalogs. Chef Works, one of the top online chef apparel companies also has a broad election of short sleeved chef shirt like the one in the picture on the right.
But I have never been a fan of the sort sleeved shirt in the kitchen or dining room for numerous reasons. Here are a few.
There are two habits that are not only bothersome to me but are unappealing to the public. One is face touching. Those people who continually touch their face, wipe the sweat from their upper lip and brow, and play with their ears while on the line make me crazy. The other is the arm picker.
Yes, the arm picker is the guy who explores the imperfections of his forearm while waiting for the pasta to boil. His fingers begin at the wrist and work their way up to the fold in the elbow joint. His terry kitchen towel is stuffed under his arm while doing this and without missing a beat, once the pasta is done he lifts the colander and moves the noodles to the sauced pan.
Yes, it is disgusting. And, although we can have numerous discussions with the arm picker, it’s a habit that apparently is unbreakable.
Sleeves on a chef shirt or coat alleviate the opportunity to arm pick.
The other reason I prefer chef coats to chef shirts is that I think it is saver for the chef. Reaching into hot oven or passing your arm over an open burner’s flame is safer with a long sleeve coat on. Many would claim the sleeve will catch on fire but this isn’t the case.
Finally, Bruno, who without any shirt on looks like he is wearing a brown sweater, has a crop of hair on his arm that would make anyone at the Hair Club for Men envious. Nothing is more of a culinary turn off than to find a few strands of Bruno’s arm hair in your salad. Nobody really knows where the hair came from but we wouldn’t want the rumors to begin. It would be bad for business.
Now I know that the heat in the kitchen is brutal especially in the upcoming hot summer months. But, everybody knew that when they bought their first set of knives. The fact that long sleeved chef coats are hot is just part of the job.
So whether you opt for short sleeves or chef coats in the kitchen and dining room uniforms that are either long or short sleeves, make sure a policy is initiated and everyone is aware of it. This will avoid any conflict or hot discussions later.