Do You “Work Clean”?

Food Network is always showing competitions where cake or candy makers have 8 hours to make the most amazing whatever-it-is that they’re making. They’re not judged just on the finished product, but on how clean they work. Meaning, do they keep their work area clean while they’re working?

I usually work clean when I’m cooking. It’s a habit I picked up when I worked in a restaurant in college. There’s no way you cook for a 12 hour shift and wait until the end to clean everything up. You’d run out of dishes and counter space long before that.

I don’t work in a restaurant any more, but I’ve kept the habit … and it drives my wife absolutely nuts. She’s a just-cook-it-and-deal-with-the-mess-later type, and it drives me absolutely nuts. We’ve learned it’s generally best not to try to cook together.

I was talking to some people at a get-together over the weekend, and it turns out this situation is more common than I thought. And in my totally non-scientific sample, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation with gender. The women are just as likely to work clean — or not — as the men.

In favor of cleaning as you go:

  • Only one or two dishes to wash when you’re done with dinner.
  • Easier to wash dishes before food dries on.
  • Don’t run out of clean dishes and silverware halfway through.

In favor of not cleaning as you go:

  • Only get your hands wet once.
  • “I’ll cook, you clean” is a really good deal.

I’m sure there must be more than that, but I can’t think of it.

So what do you do? Why? And is your partner the same way? Pick an answer in the poll — if you can’t see the poll via email, come see it on the blog — but leave a comment if you’ve got a minute. I’m really curious if there’s a pattern to why people develop the different styles.

Cook, then clean? Or clean as you go?

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