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Face Masks and the Personal Chef


If you work in any kitchen setting cooking for the public, you’re currently wearing a mask while you work. My guess is that we’re going to have to wear this mask for a while. A face covering plus glasses is a fog nightmare. Next, add headphones to the mix, argh. 


Do I have to?

The mask takes away from the sense of smell. I can't smell when my almonds are done toasting. I can't smell when the cake is almost ready to come out of the oven. The mask takes this away from me.


Argh. Heck yeah it's inconvenient.


Well, here's what OSHA says: “Select and implement appropriate engineering controls (e.g., physical barriers/shields to separate workers, enhanced ventilation), and administrative controls (e.g., staggering work shifts, limiting breakroom capacity, practicing social distancing, replacing in-person meetings with video-conference calls, ensuring workers wear appropriate face coverings, such as cloth face masks, to contain respiratory secretions), and providing and ensuring workers use appropriate PPE, identified through hazard assessments and in accordance with OSHA’s standards at 29 CFR 1910, Subpart I, and OSHA and CDC guidance on use of PPE. (Note: cloth face coverings are not PPE, because they protect other people from the wearer’s respiratory secretions, rather than protecting the wearer).”


Why Wear a Mask in the Kitchen?


In a restaurant kitchen, you're wearing a mask to protect yourself and your co-workers. The purpose is not necessarily to protect the restaurant patrons as COVID is not known to be transmitted through food. 


In a private kitchen, however, I’m not interacting with any co-workers or guests. Should I wear a mask?


As far as my business goes, if anyone in the home congregates in the kitchen, yes I'll wear a mask. If I'm the only one in a 14,000 square foot home on the first floor, no, I'm not wearing a mask. As a personal chef, I work in private homes, but the kitchens are often a closed room with two ovens and four or more stove burners going at once. The homeowner will have the temp set to their comfort level, not mine. That equals 90 degrees in the kitchen and 68 degrees in the rest of the house, even with amazing ventilation.


Cloth vs. Fabric

My mom mailed me a few mask made out of cloth scraps from her sewing room along with firm elastic to hold in place around the ears. After a few wearings and much kitchen sweat, it began to get white patches on the fabric. I've since switched over to disposable, though I have some guilt about disposables. I convince myself that it's just temporary.


Best Wishes & Much Success to You, Virginia Stockwell


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