Friday, August 20, 2010

Cuts and Burns

I often try to explain to young or inexperienced cooks that getting cut is part of the gig. i cut a lot, i would say a knife is in my hand more than 7 hours a day. i am very comfortable with a blade of any size. all that aside i still get cut. mostly on stupid things and not my knife (think saran wrap tin cutter) but it still happens. like most cooks my arms and hands are just a series of scars from wounds in the past. in the old pizza making days you would have to reach into the oven to reach pizzas in the back, when (yes when...not if) you hit your arm on the top of the oven we would call it earning your stripes, by the end of summer everyone had them on their upper forearms on both arms.

tonight my lead line cook dropped his very nice shun knife and as it fell he decided he would try to catch it. now i know that sounds silly, but its a reaction and i cant say i wouldnt have done the same thing. it got him good and we ended up getting him a ride to the ER and a few stitches later he returned to clock out and head home for the day. the horrid thing about getting cut is that it always happens at the worst possible time. when you are bleeding in a kitchen you have a problem but when you are bleeding the workload doesnt stop. banquets still gotta go, tickets still come in, food is still being sold. the goal is always no matter how bad it hurts is to get it to stop bleeding. in the first aid kit we have a few powders that are applied to a wound and then form an instant scab. other people go for a thick lacquer of superglue, and one guy i know will get a pan hot and then place the wound on the scorching pan to burn it closed. taped and gloved and you are back in business. (most guys go for tape and we try to stay away from band aids)

we have a few aloe plants that i use on burns pretty often but because i have been around it for so long i can stand much higher heat then most people, especially on my hands. when i do get burnt i usually dont realize when it happened, or if i do i usually wont really stop what i am trying to do. i remember when the executive chef handed me a sheet pan full of grilled chicken, when he pulled the chicken from the grill he rested the pan on the grill and then picked up the cold end, but then he handed me the hot end, and i had no choice but to turn and make it to the prep table. as is the case with both cuts and burns the worst are always someone elses fault. if i am flying with my knife and someone bumps me from behind they have a problem. if someone leaves a scorching hot pan in the wrong place and doesnt tell his nearest cooks he has a problem.

basically what i am trying to explain is that this is all a part of kitchen work. cuts happen, burns happen. rather than acting afraid or timid with your knife or stove though be aggressive. be careful but be aggressive. if i know in the back of my head i will get cut somehow at some point then there is no reason to be afraid of it. i have come to terms with it, and i am a better cook for it.

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