If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. For chefs and line cooks, that’s more than just a saying — it’s literal. Temperatures in the kitchen often exceed 100 degrees in the summer, with hot pans and simmering liquids all adding to a sweltering environment.
And while chefs love the figurative heat of the kitchen — the fast paced, always busy orchestra of prepping, cooking, and serving — the literal heat isn’t as fun. High temperatures can lead to dehydration, and take even the most experienced chef out of the groove.
To help you stay cool, we’ve rounded up the best tips and tricks every kitchen professional needs to know. Let’s dive in!
Safety first — stay hydrated
High temperatures aren’t only uncomfortable; they’re potentially dangerous. Being exposed to extreme heat for a long time can make it difficult for your body to regulate its core temperature. This can result in heatstroke and, in severe cases, even death.
Hydration helps us maintain our body’s core temperature. And, it replaces the water lost through sweating.
Remember these three pointers:
- Drink more than eight glasses of water a day.
- Room temperature water is best when you’re dehydrated.
- To restore electrolytes, drink sports drinks or make your own with lemonade and a pinch of salt.
Keep cool in the kitchen
While it’s hard to completely avoid the heat (especially during the summer), there are steps you can take to minimize it.
Investing in a high-quality air conditioning unit and a strong vent hood is an effective but expensive solution. With proper air conditioning, even the hottest days can be bearable, and a vent hood can redirect hot air from sizzling pans.
If you’re not ready to invest in air conditioning, there are still ways to cool things down. Set up floor fans that circulate air at a low level, keeping chefs and line cooks comfortable without affecting the food’s temperature.
When the kitchen becomes too hot to handle, try keeping the burners on low or even turning them off, only activating them when necessary. This may increase service time, but it helps prevent overwhelming heat.
Small changes make a big difference
Chefs will and have tried everything to beat the heat of the kitchen. On the days when nothing else works, these chef-tested tips will do the trick:
Get acquainted with the walk-in
You know when the best time to clean and organize the walk-in fridge or freezer is? During the heat of summer. Even spending a few minutes can help.
Towels dipped in water, frozen, and placed around the neck or forehead will cool you down in a pinch.
Some chefs and line cooks roll up their pants to mid-calf in an attempt to cool down. Does it work? It’s better to choose chef apparel that’s breathable and moisture-wicking (more on this below), but shorts can provide some relief.
Chef apparel that keeps you cool
How do chefs and line cooks beat the heat even though they’re wearing long sleeves? The trick is to choose apparel that’s light, breathable, and moisture-wicking. Everything from your hat to coat to pants and even shoes should be chosen with the goal of being able to stand the heat.
Chef Works Cool Vent™ collection features our proprietary moisture-wicking fabric that helps you stay comfortable and dry. Stretch-knit mesh keeps air flowing, so you can move around the kitchen with ease.
Our Tulum Chef Coat is the perfect choice for keeping cool and looking good. The Total Vent Chef Beanie keeps sweat off your brow, even with the temperature dialed up.