Wednesday, April 27, 2011

False Eyelashes Vs. Basic Sanitation

Must not be baking day if I have my rings on!
When I was in culinary school there was another student who had long fingernails.

Really long. Dagger-like. With loads of polish.

The chef who was teaching the class told her that she needed to cut and de-polish the nails. She returned to class the next day with a new manicure. Still long, still polished.

The chef told her to go home until she got rid of the talons. Instead of doing that, she dropped the class and said that she'd just take it later with a different chef as the instructor. I guess she thought she'd have different luck with a different person.

One of the gripes that I have with "reality" cake shows is the lack of basic sanitation that most of them seem to display. There are a few different shows that have bakers and decorators with the long fingernails, a ton of makeup, hair all over the place, and loooong false eyelashes.

I was watching a cupcake show last week and the most interesting thing about it was wondering when one girl's false eyelashes would fall off and get stuck in the cake.

One of these people proudly declares that her makeup is her signature, and that other female bakers only pull their hair back and wear little to no makeup because they're trying to be masculine and "fit in" to the kitchen culture.

Well no, honey, I hate to break it to you, but in my kitchen the culture is mine. And I tie my hair back and don't have long fingernails, false eyelashes or chipping nail polish. Why not? Because it's basic kitchen sanitation, that's why.

You tie your hair back so that it won't fall into the food.

You don't wear false eyelashes because that's really not something that you want looking back at you after it falls into your cake batter.

You don't wear fingernail polish and have long nails because long nails are bacteria havens. Nail polish chips off. And falls into the food.

I take my rings off when I'm baking, because they can also harbor bacteria and can keep you from washing your hands the right way. I also don't want to ever look down at my hand and think to myself "where did that diamond go, and what cake is it in?"

Sanitation is important, and it has nothing to do with red lipstick.

So my chef instructor was right to send that student home, and the student was wrong to try to get around the basics of sanitation by changing classes. I doubt that she had more luck with the other instructors.

I just wish that TV didn't think that sending the wrong message to viewers was so cute. But at least it gives the bakers who know what we're doing something to laugh about!

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and


sweeteatscakes said...

I totally agree! I watch these shows and I am disgusted by their lack of sanitation, especially with the long hair that is styled, and not tied back. Yuck!

Anonymous said...

Here here and amen!!! I've been saying this since Ace of Cakes first aired on TV with not one person's hair being pulled back (that it applied to) and the chipped black nail polish and the one with the long scarf that I'm sure deposited millions of fuzzies all over the place! As for the cake shows on now--it's worse and doesn't seem to be at all about the cakes only what looks good for the camera. Sanitation is and should be job 1.
cindy/cindy's cakery

Deeva said...

PREACH! At every cooking job I had, it was mandatory to wear your hair pulled back and nails trimmed and unpolished. It seems though, lately lots of people have become uncaring about such infractions of the kitchen.

At the job I have now, they make me wear a hairnet, and I don't have hair. But, there was a girl that worked there for months with claws for nails. Go figure!

April Jenkins said...

Even short-order cooks at hole-in-the-wall restaurants are required to follow these guidelines. Why is it so hard for the big names in the industry to follow the same? Well, I guess to them looks are more important than sanitation. In the fashion industry...sure. When you're making my food...sanitation first!

Kara said...

I totally agree with all the comments...I'm sure that there's a lot of editing that goes on that makes it look like nobody ever washes their hands. BUT... you can't argue that your staff uses good food-handling practices when they all have their hair going everywhere and their nail polish is chipping all over the place.

faithy, the baker said...

I totally agree with you! How does one work with fondant with long fingernails anyway?..