I can't stop wearing these chef pants—and I'm not even a chef
These Cookman USA pants are my favorite pair in my closet.
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I’ve only worked in a professional kitchen twice: once at a family friend’s restaurant as a dishwasher and once at a local Red Lobster. My younger self didn’t envy the sweltering work environment the typical chef seemed to thrive in. But I did envy the clothing they got to wear.
Designed to keep its wearer comfy and protected as they maneuver through a hot kitchen, chef clothing is hefty, durable, and roomy. It’s sometimes pinstriped or checkered and it’s usually baggy enough to double as a martial arts uniform. I’ve always imagined chef wear is what workwear pajamas must feel like.
So when I first heard about Cookman USA—a California-based clothing company that aims to bridge the gap between chefs and the everyman—I was intrigued. I purchased two pairs of Cookman chef pants at $39 a pop last winter and within a few weeks, they became mainstays in my rotation. Now, they're my favorite pants I own.
What is Cookman USA?
Cookman USA is a company conspired by west coast chefs who wanted to sell the practicality of the chef pant, but make it both fashionable and accessible. According to its website, Cookman’s designs aren’t “catered to any specific age or gender,” and it proudly declares this credo over its branding.
The classic Cookman USA chef pants come in unisex sizing, with most styles available in S to XL, corresponding to waist sizes of about 22 to 43 inches. They range in price from $39 to $49 per pair.
What I like about Cookman USA chef pants
These things are comfortable. I ordered a size large instead of my usual medium (based on the sizing guide) and was surprised at how well they fit. From waistband to ankle, the chef pants are cut in a carrot shape, offering a large amount of room from the waist to the bottom of the crotch. The tapering begins around the knees and continues to the ankle hem, creating a sleeker appearance than I expected yet in no way inhibiting my movements.
Made of a blend of 65% polyester and 35% cotton, the Cookman USA pants aren't as stiff or starchy as a pair of classic Dickies or Carhartt work pants and are quick to dry if you accidentally spill water or get sweaty. The pockets are similar to those of oversized sweatpants in that they're deep enough that I’m able to stand with both of my hands comfortably resting inside.
Additionally, the khaki-colored pair I ordered have a ripstop fabric weave, which creates a cross-hatch pattern along the entire leg and gives it a nice textured feel. The ripstop makes the pants more durable and prevents me from easily snagging or tearing them.
What I don’t like about Cookman USA chef pants
Bagginess paired with unisex sizing usually means a very exaggerated cut—and the Cookman chef pants are no exception. When worn as-is, they cover my entire sneaker, causing unwanted and sloppy-looking "stacking" (which is when the pant-leg fabric bunches up on top of shoes). My preferred pant length is a 29-inch inseam and I can't wear my size large Cookman pants without cuffing them at the ankle, but I prefer the cleaner look of having them hemmed.
Are Cookman USA chef pants worth it?
For comfort that feels like a step above sweatpants, I cannot recommend Cookman USA chef pants enough. They're a looser and less starchy version of other popular workwear garments that feel comfy enough for lounging around the house but look tidy enough to run errands. At $39 a pair and available in a multitude of colors, they’re a solid investment for quirky bottoms that will last a while.
Note that chef pants are meant to be loose, so if you aren’t willing to accept that essential feature, then steer clear of chef wear entirely. For a more streamlined look, the narrower-tapered Waiter Pants may be better suited for you. I recommend checking the provided measurements of the different pant styles to see which would best fit your body and style.
Cookman currently offers its chef pants in over 65 patterns, colors, and designs, including pinstripes, plaid, tropical prints, solid hues, and polka dots. The pants also come in different fabrics, like corduroy and wool, as well as the ripstop material I favor. With so much variety in Cookman’s pant offerings, it’s tough to say you won’t find a color or material fit just for you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.