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Line Cook/Chefs: Purdue University, Industrial Design Thesis Questionaire

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

For: Line Cooks, Higher End Restaurant Chefs, Possibly Home Consumer?

 

    Hello, my name is Nicholas Smigielski and I am a Senior Industrial Design student at Purdue University, currently working on my year-long senior thesis design project. Being that whatever I design is totally free of choice, I decided to go with something concerning my past 3 summers.

 

    Over these past 3 summers I have worked at Can Can Brasserie, a higher-end French-modern restaurant in Richmond, VA as a raw bar/pastry chef. Constantly observing the fast-paced atmosphere, I tried to think of anything that I could create to increase safety, efficiency, consistency, plate presentation, etc. or anything that could possibly apply to a product I could create for my Industrial Design Major. Things that I did notice the most concerning myself and the other chefs was sweating, knife sharpening, and burns of all kind to our hands and/or forearms.

 

    The following questions are for all Line Cooks, Higher End Restaurant Chefs, and even the Home Consumers:

 

    NOTE FOR RESPONDERS: Answers are going to be presented professionally and used as part of a research section in my project. So please be honest and include:

 

    NAME, made-up if you do not want to use your own

    WORK EXPERIENCE, or some credibility to your chef experience (pictures of injuries would be fantastic!)

 

    1. How often does your forearms encounter burns/cuts/etc.?

   

    2. How often do you sharpen or take the steel to your knife during service? How often would you prefer to?

   

    3. Do you wear wristbands and/or sweatbands/bandanas during service?

   

    4. Would you consider wearing arm protection or anything that could make you a more efficient chef?

   

    5. Can you think of any improvements you would like to see added/modified to the standard chef coat?

 

 

Thank you all for your cooperation. I look forward to presenting my final product next spring,

Nicholas Smigielski

Senior Industrial Design Student, Purdue University

www.coroflot.com/snugtron

post #2 of 7

-Foodpump--I can e-mail you with my particulars if you like

 

-25-odd years in the biz, 3 continents, gawd knows how many kitchens

 

Forearm burns are usually a result of chest-high ovens, particularily convection ovens.  One culprit is "independant doors", or doors that swing closed on you as you are taking something out of the oven.  Most, if not all mnfctrs supply ovens with "synchronized doors',  doors that are hooked together via cogs and a chain---far fewer burns with this type of setup, albeit  a bit more expensive.

 

Next are burns from trays touching your bare skin.  Rolled down sleeves usually helps with this, and "arm guards" where it slips on from elbow to wrist are available.  Oven gloves or mitts are usually a hassle and take longer to put on and take off than it is to take a tray out of the oven.  A good kitchen should have two sets of heavy oven pads hanging on a hook or some kind of arrangment next to  the oven.

 

 

"Sharpening" a knife in the kitchen is not good for me or my employees.  If a soldier were to do regular maintainence on his fire arm during a battle, 99% of the armies would court-marshel the dude. Knives should be sharp when you come on-shift,-- just as you should shave, shower, and brush your teeth on your time before coming on-shift.  "Sharpening" means re-establishing an edge, which means that metal must be removed, which means that an abrasive must be used.  Water stones are usually used next to a source of water, which means that that immediate area is contaminated with swarf-- used up grit and metal particels invariably land up in the sink---NOT a good scene in my kitchen.  Do it at home on your own time.  Oil stones present the same problem, except that they are located on the work table and some form of a petroleum product is used to lubricate the stone--not kosher in my kitchen... Besides, I have seen more than one eejit ruin a good oil stone by using salad oil.  Do it at home where I can't see you.

 

 

Using a steel only takes a few seconds and if the cook can not properly use the steel's upright postion, he should use the "missionary position" where the steel is pointed down and the tip of the knife directed to the cutting board.

 

Hate sweat bands, I use something different, I use a "Hat"  The cloth absorbs sweat from the brow, and more importantly it keeps hair out of the food, and as a bonus, keeps my hair from smelling like "kitchen" on my way home.  Hats or some kind of hair net are mandatory in all kitchens that I know of....... 

 

Wrist bands?  Meh, whatever floats your boat, but I doubt if they'd stay clean for more than 5 minutes

 

My uniforms are equipped with arm protection, they are called "sleeves".  If, during periods of heavy sauteing or shallow-frying, my sleeves are rolled down to the tips of my knuckles and are held in place with rubber bands, I suffer very few--if any-- burns to my skin.  Most cooks would choose a lighter uniform without any heavy protection if it means wearing the thing for 8 hrs straight in a hot kitchen.

 

Everyone has tried to improve on the chef's jacket, some are good ideas and some are crud.  It's double breasted for a reason, it has long sleeves for a reason, it has a "chinese collar" for a reason, it has "Pajama" buttons for a reason, it is a blend of at least 75% cotton for a reason, and usually extends past the cheeks of a normal person for a reason. 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for your response. I love your brutal honesty, that really helps with my design development/refinement. If you would like to give me a brief run down of some of the restaurants you worked at and/or styles of cooking you performed, that would be great.

 

My email is njsmigie@purdue.edu

 

Thank you again for your time,

Nicholas

 

post #4 of 7

   NAME: Troy Starr...call me Gunnar

    WORK EXPERIENCE: 8 years+  Various restaurants, prep cook, fry cook, pantry cook, line cook, baker

 

    1. How often does your forearms encounter burns/cuts/etc.? At least once a month

   

    2. How often do you sharpen or take the steel to your knife during service? A. use a steel just about every shift. Sharpen depending on what I made my knife do that week

        How often would you prefer to? B. my schedule is just fine IMO

   

    3. Do you wear wristbands and/or sweatbands/bandanas during service? nope, wear a hat and wristbands would just get wet and nasty anyway with most the chores done in a kitchen

   

    4. Would you consider wearing arm protection or anything that could make you a more efficient chef? Don't see it, coat has sleeves. Towels are quick and easy to grab.

   

    5. Can you think of any improvements you would like to see added/modified to the standard chef coat? Nothing comes to mind to be honest. What I WOULD like is a floor that doesn't become a slippery death trap with a drop of water or oil or a shoe that when it says is non-slip is actually non-slip.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by snugtron View Post

 

    NAME,  Pete McCracken, Chef/Owner

    WORK EXPERIENCE, or some credibility to your chef experience (pictures of injuries would be fantastic!)Personal Chef since 2000, first commercial (for pay) cooking job 1969

 

    1. How often does your forearms encounter burns/cuts/etc.?

 

Rarely, it is a matter of "paying attention"!

   

    2. How often do you sharpen or take the steel to your knife during service? How often would you prefer to?

 

Never sharpen during service, rarely steel, use MACs, don't need it that often during a shift

   

    3. Do you wear wristbands and/or sweatbands/bandanas during service?

 

NO!

   

    4. Would you consider wearing arm protection or anything that could make you a more efficient chef?

 

Chef's jacket provides arm protection, additional "arm protection" is just one more thing to "put on" or "take-off" in an emergency and is probably more weight.

   

    5. Can you think of any improvements you would like to see added/modified to the standard chef coat? Why "fix" what is not broke???

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post

   NAME: Troy Starr...call me Gunnar

    WORK EXPERIENCE: 8 years+  Various restaurants, prep cook, fry cook, pantry cook, line cook, baker

 

    1. How often does your forearms encounter burns/cuts/etc.? At least once a month

   

    2. How often do you sharpen or take the steel to your knife during service? A. use a steel just about every shift. Sharpen depending on what I made my knife do that week

        How often would you prefer to? B. my schedule is just fine IMO

   

    3. Do you wear wristbands and/or sweatbands/bandanas during service? nope, wear a hat and wristbands would just get wet and nasty anyway with most the chores done in a kitchen

   

    4. Would you consider wearing arm protection or anything that could make you a more efficient chef? Don't see it, coat has sleeves. Towels are quick and easy to grab.

   

    5. Can you think of any improvements you would like to see added/modified to the standard chef coat? Nothing comes to mind to be honest. What I WOULD like is a floor that doesn't become a slippery death trap with a drop of water or oil or a shoe that when it says is non-slip is actually non-slip.



have you tried skater (skate booder) shoes im just here resreaching the industry  deciding if i want to cook for a career

they seem to me like they grip everything

post #7 of 7

Not a chef but I spent a lot of my school daze working in various level kitchens washing dishes, bussing and prepping. Saw a great reason that chef's jackets are cut the way they are one day when a knucklehead was moving a large single handled sauce pot that was too full of some kind of sauce. They clipped something as they were turning and practically threw most of the pot's contents onto the sous chef working nearby. He was very badly scalded but was able to pull the jacket away from his body very quickly and then removed it in a flash. He was also wearing solid leather slip on shoes as I recall and I was never tempted to wear a tight fitting shirt or any kind of suede or plastic shoe in a kitchen again after that. His ability to do a quick strip probably saved his skin from a much more horrible burn recovery. A lot of kitchens that I worked in after that used to scare me 'cuz the youngsters that typically do the cooking at most of the low end casual dining joints seem to favor jeans, tees and tenners. 

 

The restaurants whose kitchens I saw as an adult in the sales business were usually quite atrocious. Most of the mid-line independents and casual dining joints that I called on I would not eat in because nothing was ever cleaned properly. When I was 15 I had washed dishes and scrubbed floors in a kitchen that was run by a proper chef, not some grill cook who bought a pair of checked pants. He was an absolute abusive ass to people all night over the smallest details, and I was absolutely terrified by him, so much so that I made triple dog dare sure that everything that I did was perfect because I sure as hell didn't want him to tear me up the way he did so many others. Every night before anyone left he or his assistant would inspect every station and it was unusual for anyone to be released without some sort of corrective effort. The cool part however was that as you left he would always thank each person with a handshake and a pat on the back and the next day any screw ups from the day before were forgotten. It took years, and a stint in the military, before I realized that his attitude and attention to detail was the only reason that that kitchen grew the reputation that it did, and within a year of his leaving to open his own establishment the restaurant's reputation was shite. Standards are a difficult thing to maintain, and cleanliness is a huge part of what I saw being given the short shift more often than not.

 

I would suggest that anything which makes it easier or more efficient to keep work areas clean and safe would be a big help. Anti-fatigue matts are usually given an inadequate cleaning, which in turn leaves them greasy or slippery for the next day. Very few kitchens seem to be able to come to grips with an effective means of really cleaning them well every night. Short of bringing in an off hours service with pressure washers I've noticed that most hoods get largely ignored as well. The baffles may get pulled and run through the dishwasher on occasion but most offenders seem to forget that they're even there until a health inspector shows up. Another area is docks and dumpsters. Nothing brings bugs and critters quicker than waste being slopped all about the lot and never being cleaned up. After a bit of this the back lots of many establishments begin to take on their own unique odor, no matter how smart the kitchen looks. Clean efficient waste handling can be just as important to an establishment's image as the food and service inside. Don't think so, just walk around back of a few and give it a serious look some time. Says a lot about what goes on inside. Almost every major in Baltimore has a grease slick at their back door or dock that would gag a maggot. This might be a better place to apply your design efforts rather than attempting to fix something that isn't really broke. 

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