Meditations

Smart Cooks Wear Dajoji Kitchen Performance Apparel


I was recently asked to try out and provide an opinion of Dajoji chef coats to coincide with a special offer on Ethical Deals. That opinion is below. [Full disclosure: Dajoji coats were co-designed by Foodists.ca contributor and former chef Anthony Nicalo]

My reaction when I first heard about Dajoji chef coats was that it was a weird name, but having spent enough time in kitchen whites to know how uncomfortable and impractical they can be, the idea of a new approach to kitchen wear piqued my interest.

Traditional kitchen whites are often uncomfortable and impractical.

If you work in a professional kitchen, it’s not unreasonable to spend 10, 12 or even 14 hours wearing the same clothes. And a hot shift on the grill can not only be quite comfortable when wearing a coat made from synthetic (aka chemically-based) materials, but can also result in a very funky odor. Dajoji coats however, are made from 100% organic cotton. The natural fibers perform better, feel better and smell a heck of a lot better. And best of all, these fibers are sustainably grown—something chefs who often go to great lengths to find local, sustainable and healthy ingredients would appreciate.

Dajoji coats are made from 100% sustainably grown organic cotton—something chefs who often go to great lengths to find local, sustainable and healthy ingredients would appreciate.

I’ve always wondered why kitchen whites are white? And black coats make you look like a ninja. One of my old chef coats has been washed and bleached repeatedly, yet the stains from organic detritus are unmistakeable. Dajoji coats are off white, almost a pale beige, and stand up well to the inevitable splashes and smears that happen during cooking.

Dajoji coats are off white, almost a pale beige, and stand up well to the inevitable splashes and smears that happen during cooking.

But the primary advantage of the Dajoji chef coats is the fit and comfort. I’ve never felt at ease in a conventional cooking jacket. They always feel too big in the body and too restrictive in the shoulders. The sleeves are almost always long, which may look nice when you’re posing for a photo, but when you want to break down some meat or tuck into some complicated prep, you end up rolling them up and it’s never ideal. Next time you’re in a restaurant, look at the kitchen staff’s coats—they’ll all have their sleeves rolled up. But not Dajoji coats. The sleeves are the perfect length, and the fit is much more natural feeling, allowing a range of motion like no jacket I’ve tried.

Dajoji coats allow a range of motion like no jacket I’ve tried.

When I wear my new Dajoji coat, I feel…I dunno…more fashionable. More confident even. The style reminds me of a cross between Captain Picard and Bruce Lee (which I like). My wife Andrea (also a serious cook) tried one too, her’s being even more fashion forward, with a shoulder flap and subtle pattern stitched into it. Beyond all their other positive attributes, these are good looking chef coats!

Beyond all their other positive attributes, these are good looking chef coats!

When I asked Anthony Nicalo, chef and co-creator of Dajoji coats, about the weird name, he explained that “dajoji” is an Iroquois word meaning “spirit of the western wind”, one of the reasons their logo is a stylized windmill. Clearly the ideas of nature and motion are important aspects of the Dajoji brand—I guess that’s why they call these locally and sustainable coats “kitchen performance apparel”. I don’t care what they call them, I call them smart.

“Dajoji” is an Iroquois word meaning “spirit of the western wind”.

Apparently these coats are so comfortable you forget you’re wearing them!

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