Monthly Archives: April 2012

Chefwear’s Original Fan Club

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Mesa Grill, New York. April, 1994. Chefwear Magazine photo shoot. (From left to right) Jonathon Waxman, Anne Rosenzweig, Bobby Flay, Sarabeth Levine, David Burke, Stephanie Pietromonaco, Richard Pietromonaco. Photo by Rochelle Huppin.

Rochelle Huppin designed her original Baggy pants because she wanted to wear something comfortable and fashionable to work every day, not because she wanted to revolutionize the culinary apparel industry. But within a year of their introduction, Rochelle’s custom 100% cotton elastic waist pants would take the kitchen by storm. And if it weren’t for one fund raising event and a few amazing chefs, we might still be wearing the stiff 100% polyester belted pants from the days of old.

While working as a pastry chef for Wolfgang Puck at Spago, Rochelle wore her custom chef pants proudly. Coworkers instantly noticed the vastly different fit and fabric that set her pants apart from others. They began asking about the Baggy pants; “How do they feel?” “How do they hold up?” and most importantly, “How can I get a pair?”

During a 1990 Wolfgang Puck Meals on Wheels event, Rochelle gave Chef Puck, and a few other highly respected chefs (Waxman, Valiani, Denton, Flay) a pair of the Baggy chef pants. The original Baggy pants made such a huge impression that they asked for more. These chefs are still some of Chefwear’s biggest fans.

Wolfgang Puck has been a huge supporter of Chefwear. He has been featured on three Chefwear Magazine covers; Spring 2002, Holiday 2002, and June 2004. Wolfgang’s Postsrio Las Vegas also hosted Chefwear’s 20th anniversary celebration on January 24th, 2010.

Shortly after the Meals on Wheels event, Chef Jonathon Waxman opened Table 29 in Napa. With his new restaurant, he wanted a new uniform and called on Rochelle to design Chefwear’s first custom printed fabric (Red and White Houndstooth). In 1993, he appeared on the cover of one of the earliest Chefwear Magazines. Since then, he has been one of the company’s most devoted clients, making TV appearances and outfitting all of his restaurants in Chefwear.

Superstar chef Bobby Flay also received a custom made pair of Baggy pants at the Meals on Wheels event. As Chef Flay’s career blossomed, so did Chefwear. In April of 1994, Flay’s Mesa Grill in New York hosted a Chefwear Magazine photo shoot.

Chefs Marc Valiani and Jody Denton seemed to always come as a pair. Their careers running parallel, Marc and Jody both worked under Chef Dean Ferring, Wolfgang at Spago, and then together again as partners at Restaurant LuLu in San Francisco. At each stop they wore Chefwear. Both chefs have also been featured in some of the earliest 1991-1993 Chefwear Magazines. When Chef Marc Valiani passed away in 2011, Chefwear donated a portion of the profits from one of our most popular prints, Black and White Houndsooth, to benefit “Project A.L.S.”

After the Meals on Wheels event, word started spreading about Rochelle’s Baggy chef pants. A Los Angeles Times article in June, 1991 prompted over 150 phone calls in 3 days. Joaquim Splichal and Michael Mina were among the first to request the Baggy pants. Chef Splichal’s first order was for 100 pants as holiday gifts to his kitchen staff at Patina. Chef Mina tasked Rochelle with creating a custom print (Aqua Sea Life) for his new restaurant Aqua. He also offered up Aqua for the first on-location Chefwear Magazine shoot and he was featured on the cover in 1993.

Rochelle found that she was not alone in her desire to be comfortable in the kitchen. Her coworkers, mentors and fellow chefs all helped to shape Chefwear into the leading brand in culinary apparel today. And that tradition continues as Chefwear develops new, innovative products to make chefs look, feel and cook their best.

 

Find Your Fit

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What began as a simple need for comfort in the kitchen led to a revolutionary creation for the culinary industry. Chefwear transformed the standard polyester men’s chef pant into a 100% cotton, baggy pant and a new standard was born. Our line now consists of 24 different pants that focus on comfort, functionality and style. But how do you determine which ones are the best fit? Below we’ve outline the differences among our top 3 styles; Baggy, Ultimate and Traditional.

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Baggy Pants

Meet the chef pants that launched our company and revolutionized trendy chef clothing. Made with 100% cotton fabric, these chef pants set the bar for comfortable chef wear. They feature a 3-inch elastic waistband with drawstring, which is sewn with triple-needle stitching to help maintain the elasticity, adding longevity and durability while providing ultimate flexibility and coverage.

Also, our Baggy chef pants are cut with a roomier fit. They are 3-inches wider on each hip compared to the Ultimate chef pants and provide extra protection from spills and heat, as well as more room to bend and move. Tapered ankles not only help give these pants their distinguished look but also support safety in the kitchen by keeping the hem above the sole of the shoes. If worn correctly, rest assured you will not slip on the bottom of these chef pants.

Whether your color palette is festive like Carnivale, traditional like our Black and White Houndstooth, or vibrant like our Chili Peppers, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for to complete your chef look with over 40 patterns to choose from.

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Ultimate Pants

Our Ultimate chef pant has infinite options. This relaxed fit pant was crafted with similar features as the Baggy pant: roominess, extra-deep pockets on the sides and the back, a 1-inch hem to give it a crisp, clean look and triple-needle stitching on the waistband.

Different than the Baggy pants, the Ultimate chef pants have a 2-inch waistband and a slightly shorter rise, so they sit a little lower on your waist. While the Ultimate pants are relaxed in the hip and thigh, they are not as generously cut as the Baggy pants, which leads to a more contemporary look and feel.

The Ultimate chef pants are stocked in every 100% cotton fabric color and print in the Chefwear line, which is over 50 options. They are also available in a handful of colors and prints in a 60/40 cotton/poly blend (Four-Star Ultimate Pant). If an Eco-Friendly option appeals to you, check out the Organic Ultimate Pant in 100% certified organic cotton. Last year, we took your requests and created the Zipper Fly Ultimate, which added a zipper fly and belt loops. And if that still doesn’t fit your build, we stock four colors of the Ultimate Pant in longershorter and un-hemmedinseams.

If you’d like a little more storage space, try our Cargo chef pants. They are based on the Ultimate fit with two extra cargo pockets on the legs.

Traditional

Traditional Pants

If you want a more tailored look, the Traditional chef pants offer the same comfort and functionality as the Ultimate pants, but with a slightly different fit.

The Traditional chef pants feature a slimmer cut than the Ultimate pants. They are 3-inches narrower on each hip and feature a straight leg and wider ankle opening.

These pants present a clean, modern style and are available in 16 of our classic 100% cotton colors and patterns. The Traditional pants are also offered in a wrinkle-and-stain-resistant 60/40 cotton/poly blend (Four-Star Traditional Pants). For a touch of class, try the Tuxedo Pant which incorporates black satin ribbon trim along the outseam of each leg.

Once you have decided what pant fit works best for you, you can choose customizable features based on fabric type, functionality and durability. These three fits are broken down into three different categories: Premier, Five-Star, and Four-Star. To learn more, click here.

 

Which Fabric Is Right For Me?

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Working in the restaurant industry, we all recognize that uniforms are an integral part of our everyday life.   Our chef whites can reflect the current style or pay homage to our profession.  They can keep us safe from spills and flames, and keep us cool under pressure.    With so many options out there it is important to find a uniform that works best for you, and fabric is a great place to start. Whether your priority is comfort, safety, durability or some combination of the three, a little fabric knowledge can go a long way.

Weight:

One of the easiest things to use to compare fabrics is weight.  Listed in ounces, this number signifies the weight of one square yard of fabric.  In general, the heavier weight a fabric, the more durable and longer lasting it will be, because with every wash and dry cycle that a fabric goes through, a small portion of the fabrics integrity is lost (all that lint in your drier is actually tiny little pieces of your clothing).

Lightweight:

Fabrics in the 4.0 to 5.5 oz range are considered lightweight.  Usually this weight fabric is used for button-up shirts, like our Baker’s Shirt and some headwear, like our Convertible Chefband.  Lightweight fabrics are not as common in chef jackets and pants because they don’t provide as much protection from the kitchen elements.

Medium Weight: 

Mid-weight fabrics run from about 6.0 oz to 7.5 oz.  This is a popular weight for both chef pants and jackets.  It’s heavy enough to protect the wearer from kitchen hazards, but light enough to keep air flowing and keep you cool.

Heavy Weight: 

Fabrics that are 8.0 oz and up are put into the heavy weight category.  Most chef apparel stays away from this as it tends to be too hot to wear in the kitchen, but it does make a very durable apron, as shown in our Cobbler Apron.

Weave:

Unless it is stated directly, weave can be a tricky thing to figure out. The weave of a fabric is determine by the number of threads that run perpendicular to each other and how they are put together on the loom, when the fabric is being made. The most common types are plain and twill. You may have also heard of basket weave; like in our Monarch Jacket, herringbone weave; used in our Pinnacle Jacket, or Pique weave which is featured in our Ambassador Jacket.

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Plain Weave: Plain weave gets its name for the simplicity of its composure.  The horizontal and vertical threads criss-cross each other in a one-to-one ratio, creating a perfect grid pattern.  You will see this type of fabric used most often in button-up dress shirts.

 

 

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Twill Weave: Twill weaves have one slight difference that completely changes the finished fabric.  Each single thread goes over and then under two (instead of one) of its perpendicular counterparts at a time.  This creates diagonal ‘lines’ that run through the entire fabric.  Twill fabrics are great for uniforms because they are much stronger than plain weaves – so they will hold up longer after many washings.  They are also inherently stain and wrinkle resistant (to a point) because of the tighter surface area, allowing less to seep in.  The majority of chef jackets, pants and aprons out there use twill weaves as their base fabric.

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Knit: Things like t-shirts, socks and Yoga Fusion pants aren’t made from woven fabric (above) at all.  They are actually made from fabric that is knit together from one continuous piece of thread.  Knit fabric is essentially just a series of interlocking loops – which is why when you get a hole in that lucky sweater of yours, if you pull on the tread it will keep unraveling and the hole will just get bigger.  But if you were to get a hole in your chef jacket, pulling on the loose thread will do nothing but snap that hanging thread off.  Knit fabrics are very stretchy and don’t hold much shape on their own.  With a knit, you get maximum comfort but minimum durability and protection (from heat and spills).

Content

You can think of fabric content as like an ingredient list for the material. As the mix changes so does the fabric’s performance and feel. There are countless combinations, but below are the three key players in chef uniforms.

100% Cotton: It means just that, all of the fibers used in manufacturing the material started out as fluffy puffs of cotton. Where a crop is grown, how it is processed and finished all effect the end result.

The highest quality cottons; Pima, Egyptian, and fine fine are all known for their soft, supple, almost silky finish because the plant itself yields extra long silky fibers and those properties carry through to the finished product. As luxurious as this high quality cotton is, it is not as durable as its heartier cousin (often called “cotton twill”), so keep this in mind when buying 100% fine line cotton. It will look and feel fantastic, but it will not hold up as well under the rigors of a lifetime in a kitchen.

Many clothing manufactures today use the term “cotton twill” to describe 100% cotton twill fabric that is made with good quality fibers but is more durable than Fine Line. “Cotton twill” has a nice soft feel to it, but does not have the slight shine that fine line cotton is known for. Cotton has long been the first choice for chefs because in high heat situations it will not melt as 100% polyester can.

Reverse Blend: A reverse blend (sometimes called “Cotton Rich”) is a fabric that is composed of more cotton than polyester, such as the 60% cotton/40% polyester blend that we use in our Four-Star line of jackets and pants. Reverse blends are good options for someone who is looking for fabric with the feel of cotton but the durability of polyester. 60/40 blends also tend to be more stain- and wrinkle-resistant and more colorfast than 100% cotton, but still have some of the softness and breathability of cotton.

Poly/Cotton Blend: Most often, a poly/cotton blend refers to a fabric that is made up of 65% polyester fibers and 35% cotton fibers. Poly/Cotton blends are extremely durable and less expensive than 100% cotton, making them appealing to many segments of the uniform industry. It can stand up to vigorous industrial washing and still come out looking good. The heavy polyester content makes the fabric much more stain- and wrinkle-resistant than its cotton rich counterparts. This bend has come a long way in the last 10 years and it is much softer and more comfortable to wear than it used to be. Besides durability, one of the major benefits to a 65/35 blend is that we can offer garments in bold, bright colors without fear of them fading quickly because the poly/cotton combination is very colorfast. Check out our Three-Star Plastic Button Jacket line for some great options. Both reverse blends and poly/cotton blends are engineered to be safe in a high heat environment. The upside to any poly blend is that polyester has natural stain-repellant properties, so any liquid that may spill on you is more likely to roll off instead of being absorbed (as with a 100% cotton fabric).

Applications

There are countless ways to treat a fabric once it is woven (or knit) into being. Applications have been developed that can be sprayed onto the fabric (or dipped in) to help make the fabric more stain or wrinkle resistant (so that the stain or wrinkles don’t occur in the first place). There are also stain- and wrinkle-release treatments that will help a fabric come clean or let go of its wrinkles in the laundry. Some applications promote wicking, which helps to take the moisture from your skin and move it to the outside of the garment so that you can stay cool and dry. Other applications employ the use of silver to make them anti-microbial or anti-odor and help to kill the microbes that can linger around. With any application, you just need to remember that it will eventually become less effective; the more washings, the shorter the lifecycle. Just as color or printing fades and fibers wear out, so do fabric applications.