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The media powers that be have long been proclaiming chefs to be the new rockstars. Celebrity chefs have their own TV shows, their own product lines, their own events and plenty more. They are indeed living a hectic, lucrative and highly visible life.
The everyday chef, though, is a different kind of rockstar. They are in the trenches every day for 12 to 15 hours, if not more, on their feet and constantly on the move while simultaneously being exposed to heat, caustic liquid projectiles and absurd amounts of stress. But alas, I am not here to praise the chef; rather, I am here to praise their clothes.
The wardrobe of the chef is much better and more comfortable than previous iterations of rockstar uniforms. Nobody wants to wear sequined leather pants and mesh tops around the house save for Mick Jagger cosplayers, which — not to kink shame — but that’s some shit you gotta work out yourself, buddy.
But pretty much everyone, as you’ve probably gathered because you clicked on this headline, should consider wearing what chefs wear. Specifically their pants. Glorious, glorious chef’s pants. A utilitarian garment for the ages. They make perfect sense: They know their task and perform them well. They have lots of pockets and storage because, well, chef’s need to store a lot of things, often at a moment’s notice. They need to be sturdy, because they are going to take a beating and have more substances spilled on them than the floor of CBGB’s in the late ’70s. And most importantly, they need to be malleable and comfortable, because the human wearing them is going to be upright and in constant motion for the entirety of their shift.
“But why should chefs get to have all the pants fun?” I found myself asking one day. I soon discovered L.A.-based brand Cookman, a chef-first company that isn’t afraid to let the layman in on the action, too. Chef’s pants have always been known for wacky designs that are really only feasible for public wear if you’re en route to a Phish show. Cookman, though, makes pants with a level of sartorial integrity that allows their customers to get away with wearing them as normal pants out in the world. Yes, they have left-of-center designs like zebra print and paisley, but the vast majority are patterns borrowed from the world of more refined tailoring: pinstripes, windowpane, plaid.
I was drawn to the Cookman pants because they truly are the pinnacle of quarantine haberdashery. They are just as comfortable as sweatpants but allow you to feel like you’re putting on real lower-half clothing (yes, they have an elastic waistband). The canvas-like material stands up to any spillage you can throw at it (and, I’m ashamed to admit, makes it so you can go longer than you should without washing them). They’ll make you feel like you’re wearing semi-real pants, not quite jeans or hard-pants, as I’ve seen them called on the interweb, but certainly a step above terrycloth joggers.
And on top of that, should you have to venture out into the cold, dark world, Cookman pants at their most plain can be serviceable for about-town wear. And at their most stylish — like these stripes in multiple colors, the wool plaids and even a corduroy varietal — you might even be able to pull them off in a more relaxed office setting.
One note: you will probably have to get them hemmed a bit, but you should really be doing that with any pants you buy. Just further proof they are a cut above sweats, in our opinion.
While it’s clear that chefs are their main focus and client, Cookman makes it loud and clear that wearing chef’s pants and working in the restaurant industry are in no way mutually inclusive. The site is full of dope lifestyle imagery and lookbook photos showing the devastatingly cool (in my opinion) use of their pants in normal, everyday casual getups. On top of the pants, they also feature jackets, overalls and a wide variety of graphic tees designed by local L.A. artists. The entire collection straddles the line between streetwear and kitsch perfectly.
After a couple months of working chef’s pants into my own rotation, I’ve increasingly found myself wondering why they haven’t yet become a universal quarantine staple. Each time I throw them on, which is probably too often, I preach their gospel to anyone who will listen. Doubts creep in. Am I nuts? Do I look stupid? Am I a phony, waltzing about town in a garment I have no authorial right to be wearing? But then I realize that I am none of those things. What I am, is supremely comfortable. You’ll see.
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