What Does a Chef Look Like? / by Joan Chamberlain

I have a beef about how chefs are depicted on products in consumer markets. I think most people know by now that chefs aren't rotund, jolly gentlemen that wear tall white hats, have little black mustaches, and work in kitchens with black and white checkerboard floors. So why are those the only images I see in kitchen stores - on dish towels, cutting boards, platters and cruets? That's such an antiquated notion of a chef's world.

Chefs, serious chefs, wear white, denim, black, all colors of the rainbow. They may have tattoos, wear bracelets and rings. They may have a bandana on their head, maybe a white "chef's" hat, but usually don't wear any type of headdress. And they're certainly not all rotund, or gentlemen, or jolly :-) Chefs are women and men, flamboyant or modest, self-taught or with pedigrees.

They're serious artists and craftspeople, scientists and performance artists. I'd like to see that reflected in the images I see in kitchen stores. That's one of the driving forces behind my Hands series. I love to watch chefs and cooks of all kinds work. As many of us know, they make it look easy. The movements of their hands is practiced and precise. They can move in a blur or apply a garnish with a pair of tweezers to artistic perfection.

There is no one "look" of today's chef. So, I choose to draw their hands to honor their skill and reflect the qualities they share.