After working with chefs frequently it becomes clear who is a chef. Distinguishing signs such as burns, scars and food related tattoos can be seen scattered across their body. It really is interesting. The kitchen has always been a dangerous place. In medieval times chefs would die young from fires in the kitchen and inhaling the toxic fumes all day.
I worked with a girl, a person I considered to be one of my best teachers, who always wore a coband wrap around her wrist. She was hiding a bad burn scar that look quite repulsive. Its these marks that allow anyone to quickly identify a chef.
For those of you who don’t know, I suffered a very bad cut where I cleaved off about one third of my finger tip. It bled forever and took about 3 weeks to heal. I never found the piece that I chopped off and even if I had the nurse told me they wouldn’t have been able to attach it. Now my finger looks almost normal. If you look really carefully you can tell which finger I cut.
Another mark that I have acquired is the bald patch on my left arm. Why? About every five days I sharpen my knives. Cutting potatoes, fabricating meat and using my knife nearly daily causes it to wear down quite fast. I never let it get completely dull but it can get a rough edge sometimes. One of the real reasons I sharpen my knives so often is that my precision cuts can only be done with sharp tools. I take great pride in my cuts because its something I’m quite good at. Back to sharpening, there are many different ways to determine the sharpness of a blade. My personal favorite is to try to shave the hairs off my arm. If I can run my chef knife across my skin and it acts like a straight razor, I know its sharp.
Each chef has something that gives them away. No one is perfect and we all have our quirks. Next time you see someone you think might be in the industry take a look. Look for food tattoos, cuts, burns and even bald arms – the signs of a chef.