You better get it right the first time- Or they will send you packing!!!
Ok, its not really that dramatic- but it is important that you get it right the first time, and every time. From our very first culinary class with kitchen lab we have been taught "first impressions are everything!" At least these specific impressions are important to our chef instructors, since our daily class points exclusively rely on these ten major requirements- even before we start cooking in the kitchen.
Its called the "Line-Up." Each of us students stands in a line, shoulder to shoulder with our hands out in front of us like we are little kids in catholic school waiting to be smacked for being naughty. The Chef Instructor walks up and down the line inspecting us all quite literally from head to toe, hats to shoes. He is looking us carefully over to make sure we paid attention to all the crucial criteria and guidelines that have been set for us to follow. If he catches something, he lets us know that we need to fix it right away. All the while in this "line-up" we are standing in a hallway where other instructors and classmates from other classes can watch. It doesn't feel too awkward after the first or second class. I look at it as preparation for when I am a professional in the field someday. Hopefully I can accomplish my own "line-up" in front of the mirror and pay attention to all the details that will be important for my own success. Every morning I worry I will forget something, so far that concern has helped me come prepared every time.
Here is the Top Ten, in no particular order requirements to pass "Line Up" Successfully:
1. HAT- First of all you have to have your chef's hat. Second it should be clean and white with no fuzzy things all over it. Nobody likes our required hats, but since we all have to wear them we get over it.
2. HAIR- Your hair must be up inside your hat, especially if it is long, and I have seen my classmates fit a lot of hair into their hat so no excuses. For the guys if you have any facial hair it must be trimmed to less than an inch, and no scruff!
3. JEWELRY- Heaven forbid you lose a piece of jewelry in the food!! We are allowed a very minimal amount of jewelry. Our earrings have to be small posts that do not hang off of the ear. Two piercings max on our ears- any other piercing is not permitted, no exceptions, no other visible places like your nose or eye brow, wherever. And we are only allowed one wedding band preferably without a diamond. A watch must be pinned to our coat, and no visible necklaces too.
4. MAKE-UP- Become a minimalist and store the blue eye shadow for the weekends, k? Basically do not go overboard in the category. Also make sure to smell good, but not too good. Nobody wants to pass out from excessive amounts of somebody's perfume.
5. CHEF COAT and PANTS- These are the basis of what keeps us all equal- our official Culinary Institute uniforms. It is expected that our coats be pressed with an iron and glowing white. We must only wear our checkered pants to class. We have a pair of black pants too, but those are only for special events.
6. UNDER SHIRT- It better be white and don't even try to wear a white t-shirt with any kind of writing on it. I own a lot of white running race shirts, but they are useless for school. It shows through the coat and Chef will see it- I promise!
7. APRON- White, clean, basic apron. If you forget yours this is the only item that Chef will help and give a little mercy with by getting you one from the laundry store room for that class period.
8. HANDS- Hold them out, they better be clean, nails trimmed unbearably short, no nail polish if that is your thing, any cuts better have a bandage on them and you better plan on wearing gloves if you do have open sores. When it comes to food preparation our hands are the most important tool to keep clean. Wash your digits first thing when you get to the kitchen, wash them as often as possible.
9. TOOLS- Our chef's coats have a side arm pocket. In that pocket we must have our Thermometer, a Pen, a Sharpie marker and any extra writing utensils that we feel are important. If we don't have these items, we better find one fast. They are essential to our work and we can't proceed without them.
10. SHOES and SOCKS- Black shoes, this means no open heeled clogs, and no tennis shoes with Nike symbols. As black as black can be- there are some great companies that make shoes for Chef's. I was cheap and bought an ugly pair from Walmart to get me through until I am ready to splurge on good sturdy ones. I just haven't found the right ones yet. Oh and wear plain black or white socks. Christmas socks and socks with multi color stripes are not permitted. No room for individuality here, not even with the socks.