“Cooks love to embellish the many war scars they’ve earned through the years,” says Lisa Brefere, a chef for 30 years and co-founder of CookingDistrict.com, an online resource for the culinary profession. Cuts and burns may be a badge of honor, but they do require immediate attention—especially if they occur in the middle of the dinner rush. Chefs and line cooks rely on both traditional first aid and home-grown solutions.
For a cut:
Tried and true: Direct pressure, antibiotic cream and proper bandaging are a good fix, notes Brefere. “Wrap the cut with gauze strips, then wrap the gauze with stiff tape that forms a little ‘cast’ to protect the cut.”
Home remedy: Salt and spices—kitchen staples—also work. “One of my chefs who cut his finger stuck it in a cup of kosher salt. He proceeded to squeal with pain but he told me it healed faster with no infection,” says Brefere. She herself has put cayenne pepper or paprika on a cut—both are natural coagulators and contain antibodies against infection.
For a burn:
Tried and true: Hold the burned area under cold, running water for 10 minutes. Wrap the burned skin loosely with sterile gauze.
Home remedy: For minor burns, rubbing the area with egg whites has proven effective, Brefere notes. “To prevent scarring, I use vitamin E liquid squeezed from a capsule. Aloe is also reliable. I’ve had a plant in my house for 30 years; I just break off a leaf and rub the aloe on the burn,” she adds.