Pros: Easily store and carry around knives, laptop and whatever else you need
Cons: no music holder.
Remember being a lowly, culinary student, back in the day, lugging around a knife bag and backpack? You didn’t know if you were heading to class or on some month long expedition into the wild with all that gear. And for many culinary students a knife roll just doesn’t cut it (no pun intended). Many a culinary student can be seen on school campus lugging around a large tool box to carry all of their gear to class (including a laptop). Whether culinary students actually need that much gear is up for debate but most would agree that there should be a better way to cart all that gear around. Enter the ChefPak.
ChefPak is another exciting product we discovered at this year’s Chicago NRA show. The idea is so simple that when you first see it you find it hard to understand why no one has thought of it before. ChefPak is the creation of Tim Campbell and Dave Feimster, both professional chefs. It is the clever combination of a knife case, laptop bag and backpack in one.
ChefPak is comprised of two elements: an extremely sturdy knife case and well-laid-out backpack. The knife case has fairly solid walls which are designed to protect the knives. The left side of the knife case has four slots for 10 inch knives and five slots on the right for 8 inch knives. This gives any cook plenty of space for their knives and steel. There is a small, mesh, zippered pouch on the top right for carrying smaller tools. The case has dual zippers and a Velcro handle if you just need to bring your knives and not the whole pack. The card holder on the top left of the case is a nice touch.
The backpack currently has only one style which is black and silver with red trim. It looks good, not cheesy in any way. I would imagine more styles will be released in the future. There are four pockets for storage, one of which is taken up by the knife case. This pocket is in the very back and with the addition of the knife kit it provides a good sturdy support similar to a frame pack. The third pocket has a laptop holder which can handle up to a 17 inch laptop. There is also plenty of room to store cookbooks within this pocket as well. Utensils can be stored in the second pocket which has 5 elastic slots loops to hold its contents in place. Finally, the first and smallest pocket is designed for anything else you might need to carry such as calculator, pens, pencils, etc. This pocket also holds a zipper pouch for quick access to something - like Band-Aids, maybe?
The exterior of the ChefPak includes two standard side mesh pockets for holding water bottles. There is a heavy-duty, padded carrying handle on the top and also a second, not-so-sturdy handle that does not look like it would be able to hold the weight of a knife kit, laptop, books and accessories. To be honest I am not completely certain what purpose this second handle serves.
The back of the pack is heavily padded for extra comfort and the shoulder straps are also padded. There is extra padding on the adjustable shoulder straps as well as numerous, nylon loops for connecting carabineers, etc. On the very bottom is what appears to be a very durable material that will keep the internal gear protected.
Overall this is one of the coolest products we have seen for the culinary student, professional cook, chef or even avid cook who wants a convenient way to carry around their gear.
There are a few improvements I hope we will see coming in the near future. One is a top zipper with an earphone plug for a place to keep a music player. This is a pretty standard feature on most packs now; if they are marketing to culinary students then I think that addition makes sense. The addition of some smaller knife slots in the knife case for paring knives and peelers would be nice as well.
Although there is a small mesh zipper pocket in the top right of the knife case, the mesh does not feel like it would last very long before it tears. It seems like there is enough room to add a few small slots on top of the existing knife slots. Lastly, it seems like there should be a pocket on the side to hold pens, pencils and a thermometer. It would be nice to have quick access to these items rather than digging around in the pockets.
The ChefPak is an ideal choice for any aspiring cook and is ChefTalk recommended. You can purchase a ChefPak for $109.95 (currently on sale for $98.95) at http://www.chefpak.com/products.html.