The Leather Blacksmith Apron is no longer reserved for use during summertime barbecues. Thanks to its use by iconic Chef Jacques Pepin the chef apron is an acceptable part of the professional chef’s uniform, being a substitute for the more traditional chef jacket (chef coat). In this article I’ll explain the benefits of the chef apron.
At first glance, the chef apron appears to be more utilitarian than the chef coat. This may be due to the fact that there are many other occupations in the food service industry that are also widely known for wearing aprons. These include
- Waiters & Waitresses
- Bus Boys
- Serving Chefs
- Kitchen & Counter Workers
Add this to the apron’s reputation as a summertime barbecue staple (Kiss the Chef), and you appear to have the Rodney Dangerfield of a chef’s uniform, no respect at all.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that the humble apron performs the same functions as the chef jacket.
Protection: Although the arms are bare, the apron protects the where the vast majority of spills, splatters, and other assorted stains occur, the torso. The apron also protects against heat, from either direct flame (stove or BBQ) or hot liquid. Similar to the chef jacket, quality chef aprons will be constructed from a sturdy cotton twill. The importance of the cotton is that it is able to withstand repeated washings while maintaining its integrity.
Versatility: Unlike the chef coat, the apron is a very versatile piece of clothing. It was not until I saw Jacques Pepin use the end of his apron as a pot holder, that I realized how useful the apron was. The apron is only held in place by a tie-string around the waist, allowing it to be pulled away from the body as an impromptu towel or pot holder. Also, being a rather simple one piece construction, a single apron size can be adjusted (via the neck strap) for chefs of differing heights, or folded over at the waist to cover as much of the thigh/legs as is comfortable.
An overlooked aspect of the aprons versatility is the fact that it does NOT cover your arms. This allows the chef to express his/her own sense of style with their choice of shirt (both style and color). Whereas a chef in a casual seafood restaurant may opt for a Hawaiian shirt, the white of the apron is still a reminder of cleanliness.
The biggest benefit of the chef apron is the 14.5″ x 9″ pocket. This allows for convenient storage of small items that may be needed repeatedly, without wasting the time of having to find them whenever they are needed.
Comfort: What could be more comfortable than wearing one of your favorite shirts, covered by a light cotton apron? The fact that there are no sleeves means fewer restrictions in movement. Also, for those who tend to sweat a lot, not having the extra layer of clothing is the best way to keep cool in the heat of the kitchen.
The chef apron performs the same functions as the more traditional chef coat, with the added benefits of enhanced mobility, convenient storage and expression of personal style.