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  1. Is the towel to prevent heat and injury? Aren't their woks' handle insulated enough?

  2. If the insulation falls short, how's a towel a stop-gap? What if the chef accidentally touches the wok without the cloth?

3. Aren't HEAVY-DUTY HEAT-RESISTANT gloves safer?

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I screen-shot 0:21 of Chef Mok Kit Keung (and 2 others) at Shang Palace, Kowloon Shangri-La.

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and Chef Paul Lau Yiu Fai wok-frying Spotted Garoupa Fillet at Tin Lung Heen. This post has 2 more photos.

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    I am not a chef, but I actually tried this at home. It turned out that none of my pans and pots are designed to be handled with gloves, and that handling kitchenware without fine motor control is positively dangerous. – Eike Pierstorff Nov 21 at 12:50
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    It is a towel, not a cloth. Big difference as everyone knows one should never be found without one's towel. – Mindwin Nov 21 at 17:18
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    @Mindwin A towel, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. – Bee Nov 21 at 17:30
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    Try cooking with gloves. Any gloves. Now you know why people don't cook with gloves. – Mast Nov 21 at 23:05
  • Just put the glove over the pan. Done. – Minix Nov 22 at 13:11
43

Because it is more efficient when running the kitchen while in full service.

It takes less time to remove their hands from the towels than it would take to remove gloves.

This also applies to chefs in other kind of cuisines; if you look at french cooks, they will do the same thing; grab a towel to pick something from the oven, or pick a pan from the stove.

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    @Explorer In a busy kitchen, five seconds matter. Safety? A cook doesn't wear cut-resistant gloves. Have you seen the hands of a busy cook? Not pretty from all he cuts and burns. – Johannes_B Nov 21 at 5:20
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    @Explorer A towel is cheap, easy to grab and good to throw in the basket for cleaning. – Johannes_B Nov 21 at 5:22
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    @Explorer Another thing to remember: The time you need to put on gloves is also needed to get rid of them. If you, by accident, spill all the super hot frying oil over your hand ... you might as well get the next knife and cut the glove (including the hand) to save your arm. – Johannes_B Nov 21 at 5:25
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    @Explorer gloves are not necessarily safer, if they make it harder to grip the pan properly. – alephzero Nov 21 at 11:25
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    @Explorer If you're handling hot pans a hundred times during your shift, 30 seconds each time adds up to most of an hour spent putting gloves on and taking them off. – David Richerby Nov 21 at 14:32
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Hygiene issues: The inside of the glove gets dirty pretty fast so basically you have to wash you hands after every use of the glove.

They're much harder to clean then a towel.

2

Another factor is that decent gloves allowing some fine-motor skills as well as easy putting on and off have to fit well, and not everyone has the same size hands. So every chef has to carry their own pair of gloves, or every station has to have a set (colour-coded perhaps). Even then they're slow to put on and take off, and quite likely to end up getting dropped on the floor in the process (e.g. if you're carrying something as well). This adds up to time and cost savings for not using well-fitting gloves. Simple oven gloves could be used but don't have much fine control.

In practice if you provide ill-fitting clumsy gloves, people will only use them if they know they'll burn themselves otherwise, while something instant and easy is more likely to be used in a precautionary way. To put it bluntly, inappropriate safety gear makes things worse.

The actual risks of using a suitable cloth are minimal once you're used to it.

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