If It's Really Too Hot, Bust Out Some Line Cook Fashion To Survive

Dishwasher shirts are office-appropriate, right?

August 9, 2017 ● 2 min read

By Richie Nakano | Image iStock via Aleksandar Nakic

A cold towel wrapped around the neck. Cuffed pants. Dishwasher shirts.

Kitchens are hot. Really hot. Stoves, fryers, and grills are brutally hot, but it's the added insult of refrigeration compressors humming along like a space heater that really makes the kitchen unbearable. Summers are especially rough. Temperatures on the line can easily reach 110 plus, and if the AC breaks on a busy Friday night, you're looking at short tempers, fainting spells, and the dessert plater walking in between the first and second seating. Luckily, cooks have learned to adapt. 

1. Proper Headgear

I'm all for cooks bringing elements of their own style to their kitchen uniforms, but the summer is no time for the ol' winter hat on the line look. Summers call for trucker hats and bandannas. Also acceptable is the pre-hair plug Lebron James headband look. And while trucker hats and bandannas sound like fashion choices from a Kid Rock concert, they keep you cool and keep your sweat from blinding you.  

2. The Dishwasher Shirt

A freshly laundered, pressed chef coat is a prestigious look to rock, but it's also impossibly hot. Thick cotton is a garbage choice for the line... but the quality craftsmanship of a polyester dishwasher overshirt is perfect for the heat. They breathe, they're short-sleeved, impossibly thin, and they make you look like a painter or a drunk golfer. In like, a good way.

3. Cuffed Pants

You can wear shorts on the line, I guess, but then you risk burns, cuts, and worst of all, someone might see you wearing white knee socks with your clogs. (Legit, I only own black socks now to spare myself this indignity.) But cuffed pants work wonders—it's incredible how letting your ankles breathe during service can offer so much relief. There are levels to this: the trade-off for cuffed pants is those cuffs will more than likely fill up with weird bits of mise.  

4. A Cold Towel

It's crude as hell and it makes your collar wet, but to be fair you've probably already soaked through your shirt. Soaking a towel in ice water, then wrapping it around your neck can be a game changer during service. There are some tips to be followed here: wring out the towel halfway, and rotate a towel into the ice water when you take one out so you always have a cold one ready to go.  

5. The Ol' No Undershirt Look

This one is awful and is only to be deployed in the worst of heats. In the event of apocalyptic heat with no relief in sight, skip the undershirt on the line, and just wear the dishwasher shirt. The material feels terrible and can be itchy, and also you'll have a vaguely creepy John Turturro in Do The Right Thing vibe. The absence of that layer can work magic though, and when used in conjunction with the ice towel, even the hottest conditions become bearable. Beware of combining those two with an open kitchen layout, as you can unwittingly become the sole contestant in your own wet T-shirt contest. One that you lose.  

Have any tried and true tricks? Show us @chefsfeed, everywhere. We're lookin' at you, grill cooks.