Hot in the Kitchen


Yesterday I was watching a rerun of Top Chef in which Stockton line cook Michael Midgley won an elimination challenge with a luscious-looking pairing of trout and salmon ensconced in a melange of vegetables. Midgley is pudgy, a bit unkempt, and in this episode he had just had emergency dental surgery, so his cheek was swollen and red. But as he layered the disk of trout against the steaming salmon, this perennial truth re-occurred to me:

There’s nothing quite as hot as a man who knows how to cook.

Exhibit A: Tyler Florence, our August cover boy. Tyler is a perfectly nice-looking guy (and in person, very gracious and funny to boot). If you didn’t know who he was, you’d probably pass him on the street without a second glance. But stand by as he whips up a little something in a Marin kitchen …

Photo credit: John Lee

… and suddenly—well, don’t you just want to come closer, lean in, see what he’s straining into that pot and maybe brush against him in the process?

Cooking implies mastery, subtlety of perception, analytical skills, sensual instincts and of course a man who can use his hands. Give me a good cook over a buff body, a Stanford Ph.D. or an overflowing wallet any day.

And then there are whites, those doctor-like white jackets chefs wear at work. Any man’s heat quotient rises when he puts on his whites. All uniforms are sexy, but none is sexier than one that states, “I am here to feed you. You sit on down.”

Exhibit B is our own Laurent Manrique, executive chef at Aqua, in his whites.

Manrique is suave and French in addition to being a chef, but that’s the magic of the whites—they upgrade the look of an average Joe while neutralizing a smoldering type into someone approachable. Imagine Manrique in an Armani suit smoking a cigar, and suddenly he’s intimidating. But in his whites he’s just another superbly talented man who wants nothing more than to please you. And no woman’s going to argue with that.

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