Why I Go Barefoot in the Kitchen

published Jun 28, 2016
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(Image credit: Samantha Bolton)

This past spring, at The Kitchn team retreat, I sat around a table with my fellow editors and admitted something rather controversial: I don’t wear shoes in the kitchen. This admission sparked harrowing tales of severed toes and other knife-related atrocities, but I dug in my (barefoot) heels and stood by this cooking faux pas. Here’s why.

Why I Don’t Wear Shoes in the Kitchen

Why I go barefoot in the kitchen is inextricably linked to why I cook in the first place. Cliché as it may sound, my small apartment kitchen is my sanctuary; it’s where I feel most comfortable and relaxed. When my day is hectic or I’ve got something on my mind, I always gravitate towards my kitchen. I’ll wash a bunch of kale, chop veggies, make a batch of quinoa, or slow-roast a tray of subpar tomatoes — anything to fall into that familiar rhythm of cooking.

A natural extension of this sense of freedom and joy, then, is to be truly unencumbered in the kitchen. At the risk of sounding like a hippie in a field of wildflowers, there’s something about being barefoot that makes you feel grounded and connected to your environment; there’s no barrier between you and your surroundings. Going shoe-less is just how I roll in the kitchen. I’d never even thought twice about it until our lively discussion at The Kitchn retreat.

A Safety Consideration for the Carefree Cook

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons why I was baffled by my colleagues’ aversion to going barefoot in the kitchen is because, up until a few weeks ago, I had never sustained an injury while cooking barefoot.

Recently, though, as I was unloading the dishwasher, I dropped an extremely heavy baking sheet on my left foot. I still have a big, colorful bruise where the sheet made impact — a painful reminder of my foolishness.

So, while I still advocate for cooking barefoot in the kitchen, I have a word of caution: Being carefree doesn’t mean you should be absent-minded. Cooking barefoot in the kitchen can be dangerous; sharp knives, heavy pans, hot liquids — all can pose a threat to your precious toes if you’re not careful. As long as you have this in mind while you’re doing your dance around the kitchen, you’ll be just fine.

Where do you stand in the to-wear-shoes or not-to-wear-shoes debate? Share in the comments!