HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >

Discussion

Hair Nets

I was watching Iron Chef America and Kerry Simon was on and it occured to me that you never see these TV chefs wear hair net. Mario Batali, Cat Cora, and Masaharu Morimoto all have their hair in a ponytail but none of them wear hair nets. I thought it was a health department rule. Just curious.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. ha! can you imagine one of the judges pulls a hair out of their mouth???

    probably different rules for different restaurants, cities, etc. i've heard of kitchen staff having to wear hats (in toronto).

    and anyways, i don't think tv shows fall under the restaurant health code laws.

    1. I have worked in restaurants for 13 years, in Florida and NC, and never have seen any staff wear hair nets. Hats yes.

      3 Replies
      1. re: WNCfoodie

        All the restos I've worked required your hair pulled back and up, but never required hair nets.

        1. re: mojoeater

          Well, everyone had their hair pulled back and out of the way, some had hats, but Kerry Simon was just whooshing arounf in his free flowing manes.

        2. re: WNCfoodie

          I've worked front & back of the house in both of those states & have always seen hairnets & sometimes beard nets. For longer hair have seen a lot of hair ties attached at various points of the pony tails. This has been from budget to high on the hog type places, so price point has not been an issue. Many of us with animals even put on cook gear at work rather than chance a stray pet hair drifting into a diners meal.

          But I am also a fanatic about kitchen hygiene. Won't work at place that I wouldn't eat at, and if the kitchen & restrooms are not good...enough said!

        3. Aren't caps and/or toques default nets, or hair retainers? I always figured nets were for high volume sort of operations. Any way, yes, wear something on your head. As someone who has gotten a few hairs in my food - it's gross and repulsive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ML8000

            I once watched some (in)famous chef from Argentina on one of Sara Moulton's shows on Food Network, and he kept touching his hair and sweeping it back, and then touched the food immediately after. Disgusting. I have no idea why they didn't call him on it during a commercial break, but there he was until the bitter end, flicking back his hair and then touching the food. UGH.

          2. In NYC everyone that prepares food is suppose to wear a cap or hairnet. This includes bartenders and baristas. I don't know how many people in the kitchen actually follow the rules but it's a health department requirement. I think the violation is 3 points

            I personally don't care if anyone does this but these are the rules.

            2 Replies
            1. re: KTinNYC

              i guess it's so commonplace in the states i'd never noticed it before. i just returned from a trip to reykjavik, iceland, where it was noticeable to me for the first time ever that hairnets or caps were not worn anywhere i was able to see the kitchen. i didn't find any hairs in my food.

            2. I've noticed this too, but thought "maybe different rules" for cooking shows. But:

              Hair Happens.

              True, hair isn't as icky as, say, spit (sorry) or the errant sneeze (sorry again), but we should still be cognizant of it, since it's so apparent.

              My Hub hates to see me in a bandanna. ("Ugly," sez he) However, it keeps my hair out of my cooking. It's a tool I use almost daily in my kitchen so that no one diner has to sit back and utter the dreaded EWWWW at a hair in their portion.

              If I can take care of this at home with a bandana, I'm sure TV chefs and others can do the same.

              In watching "Hell's Kitchen," I have often wondered why there aren't beard nets required, as so many of the contestants had facial hair.

              So, food professionals: what is the hair situation? Do people notice it or is this a hygience issue relegated to lunch-ladies at the elementary school?
              Not being picky; I just want to know.

              Thanks!

              2 Replies
              1. re: cayjohan

                cay--
                the law/code is different not only state to state but city to city. then the establishment has its own policy. it is true that hair net requirements are most common at industrial food processors, factories, large bakeries, and institutional kitchens.

                generally, at least in my area/experience, the rule apart from that is that hair should be covered/contained, for back of the house (front of house tends to be looser) & health code does not require hairnets per se as long as hair is covered/contained, whether it's by a hat, cap, toque, scarf, ponytail holder, plastic clip or net.

                waitstaff with longer hair are generally required by management to "wear it up" & many skirt this rule as much as possible by using pins and combs but basically having loose hair. back of house cooks are sometimes required to wear nets but more often can wear skullcaps, bandannas or baseball caps to avoid the institutional look. dishwashers and other kitchen staff-- depends on mgmt. in open kitchens you're likely to see everyone in skullcaps except the executive chef (who may wear a toque or may be hatless), in order to look more professional to the diners. restaurant mgrs who work between foh and boh tend to ignore the code themselves, unless the inspector is walking in the door. if one has very short hair s/he can often get away without wearing head covering, and the same applies for people with very short facial hair such as the groomed goatees on hells kitchen. those would probably be fine-- the wack female hair on that show would be another story. again, it will really depend on the establishment and management of the place. you're more likely to see a beard net at a deli than boh in many fine dining restaurants, for example.

                truth be told, in closed kitchens, lots of times nobody wears a covering until the inspector shows up, and then all those cute little paper hats come out. more professional kitchens, you'll get yelled at for not having your head covered.

                i have long hair, so at work i always have hair up in a knot or braided, and additionally wear a bandanna. dh has very short hair (shaves it regularly) so he does not wear head covering unless working the grill or other very hot workstation-- then he wears a bandanna or skullcap, basically to absorb sweat at such a hot station. most chefs i know either wear their hair short or in such a way as to be out of their way during a long, hot, sweaty day (12 hrs or so). not trying to look pretty for our SOs, or a camera ;-). a couple exec chefs i know grow a beard just because they can, i suspect. flyaway chef hair is something i'm annoyed to see on t.v. because it's not reality, but then it makes people think they can get away w it-- don't let's get started on makeup and nail polish. . .

                1. re: soupkitten

                  oops-i guess i didn't read the op carefully before i responded. thought it was about health code in general, not how t.v. kitchens are different from real kitchens in terms of health code.

                  if you're asking if the chefs on iron chef need to wear hair nets then no, different rules-- they aren't working in a licensed kitchen or selling anything to consumers, so they can wear whatever, stick their finger in a la deen, walk around in flip-flops. raytamsgv's post is right on. no health inspectors to worry about on set. even in "hell's kitchen" they get around not being a real restaurant because they are paying the customer to eat there, not vice versa. half the things you see on cooking shows would never fly in a real kitchen, and it's getting worse!

              2. Good point! They don't on Top Chef either! And speaking of health rules...Howie (from Top Chef) sweats into all the food he makes, is that sanitary? I'd think not...

                2 Replies
                1. re: Chew on That

                  If you are afraid of sweat in your food then prepare it yourself. Kitchens are hot places that are usually not air conditioned.

                  1. re: KTinNYC

                    No kidding! It's unpleasant to see, but eating out means people definitely touch your food. They might sweat in it. Hopefully they don't sneeze in it. It's a risk I'm generally willing to take.

                2. I'd rather see a missing hair net than those long, fake nails on a cook or waitress or anyone else touching my food.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Goomba

                    I hate to say it but I have broken a nail during food prep and never found it (mine not fake nails)!

                  2. It's television, not a restaurant. They are not selling to the general public (same thing for regular people cooking a meal for their friends). Otherwise, they would need a restaurant license, liquor license, etc.

                    But the real reason for this is that hair nets and hats don't look on TV--they obscure the face and the $100 haircut. Remember--it's television. What looks like to be 30 minutes on television can take hours to record. There are numerous retakes, and I guarantee that the temperature of many of the ingredients will exceed safe levels due to the bright, hot studio lights.