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Working the Line: Chef Pants

Chef pants (via
Chef pants (via

At culinary school, all students get issued the same kitchen uniform: checkered baggy chef pants and white men’s chef coats. I get it. Our uniforms are meant to take away our individuality and force us to work on important things like kitchen safety, cooking, and proper sanitation practices. But that doesn’t excuse their ugliness. Surely there would come a day when I had the right to choose… my pants, that is.

One of my female culinary instructors once went off on a diatribe about how women chefs really have to love their job because they no longer look like women when they’re in the kitchen. The only thing that brings her little fashion joy are her fitted chef pants. This gem of advice stuck with me for a while, up until I earned my current line cook position. The first thing I did? I went ahead and splurged on some fitted women’s chef pants. (Basic pants cost about $20 but also feel like burlap.)

I waited anxiously for my pants to arrive via mail order. When I finally put them on I was ecstatic. “Shape!” I thought to myself. “It looks like I have normal-sized legs now.” I couldn’t wait to wear them to work. Yes, I was still stuck in my pillow-cased shaped coat, but at least I had new pants.

My excitement was short-lived. The next day, as soon as I bent down to organize my pantry (the cubby/cooler/drawers most cooks have under their work station), I realized the pants didn’t cover my entire seat. That’s 47 dollars I can never get back.


In an attempt to remedy my dismay, I’ve scoured the Internet on my mission to find comfortable, fitted, normal-rise chef pants that allow me full range of motion even during the most rigorous of kitchen conditions. The movements we line cooks end up doing often mirror those of sporting drills and ballet. Don’t believe me? Go find an open kitchen and observe the chaos on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s like a kitchen-themed Cirque du Soleil.

Hours into my research I feel I’ve finally found the pants, the solution to my plague. They’re cut like skinny jeans, but have a mid-rise waist with an adjustable elastic waistband and adjustable snaps at the leg openings to allow for length adjustment. These pants, along with items like Egyptian cotton chef coats (upwards of $150), are made by Bragard USA. This company apparently started in Europe and is now making the finest chef apparel available in the States.

There’s just one small problem: These pants cost $70 before tax and shipping, and I’m not made of money.

Until I can afford to splurge on the kitchen equivalent of haute couture clothing, I might as well take a crack at making my own. I’ve already called my mom and asked her to send me her sewing machine.

It—along with the promise of awesome pants—is on its way.