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LuckyGuy's avatar

Does anyone know the origin of this drawing of a chef winking and making the "OK" sign?

Asked by LuckyGuy (29636 points ) 1 month ago

When I was a kid in the 1960s my parents to a pizza restaurant on Long Island that had this picture of a chef winking and holding up his left had to make the OK sign on their store front and pizza boxes.
I was recently at a diner established in the mid-1950’s in Rochester NY and saw the same guy on their storefront.
I recall seeing it somewhere else and he was supposedly saying “Top Quality”
Do you have restaurant or pizzeria in your area with the same winking chef? Where have you see this guy?
Does anyone know the origin of this drawing?

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15 Answers

kritiper's avatar

Chef Boi-ar-di

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My first thought was it was Chef Boyardee but I looked at the box and it’s not the current version. Have they changed it?

LuckyGuy's avatar

I just looked at Chef Boyardee and it is a different guy. Thanks for the hint though.

dappled_leaves's avatar

To me, it always seemed like a watered-down (perhaps Americanized?) version of the typical chef hand gesture showing “this is delicious!” or “tastes like perfection!”. You know, the one where they put their hand to their lips, make a kissing (lip smacking?) motion, and rapidly open the hand.

Kinda like this, though it’s really the movement that counts.

Is there a word for this gesture? Surely everyone knows it.

Buttonstc's avatar

Ah, the wonders of free association..,

For some strange reason, the instant I saw that image, the phrase ” C’est Magnifique” popped into my head.

So I put it into Google Image but nothing came up for several pages.

So then I put in “C’est Magnifique, chef image” and it popped up twice on the first page.

So, my best guess is that this is a free stock image and restaurants advertising agencies or graphics depts. dropped the slightly pretentious phraseology and utilized just the image since it does get the point across.

But I’m assuming that some French guy came up with it a long enough time ago so that whatever copyrights there were have expired.

If you look at the image on the Google page, it’s pretty crude looking and obviously copied (mimeographed) so many times.

And, if there’s a slightly different version on some restaurant sign or pizza box, it must have been slightly reworked or cleaned up by whichever graphics guy had the account.

gailcalled's avatar

It is the classic French gesture for “délicieux, magnifique”: seen here in a tiny version

If you google understanding and using French gestures, you will learn an important ancillary part of how to speak French well with your mouth shut.

ucme's avatar

That hand gesture wouldn’t go down well in Turkey, roughly translates as “you take it up the arse”

LuckyGuy's avatar

@ucme Does the wink add to the meaning?

ucme's avatar

@LuckyGuy Certainly suggests the chef is “game for a laugh” as it were.

Buttonstc's avatar

Wow. I didn’t quite realize how ubiquitous this is (Turkey notwithstanding) as I hit the motherlode unexpectedly.

Just put “pizza chef, ok sign” into Googles image search and there are tons of pages with one or another variant, some more attractive looking than others.

But the interesting thing in common is that most of them are found on websites for royalty free clip art (like www.shutterstock.com).

So, that’s how it finds it’s way onto so much signage and box graphics. It’s totally free to use as is or morph slightly to convey the same thing.

As for the first person to draw this, I’m assuming that’s lost in the mists of time (maybe some old French or Italian cave drawings :)

But also nagging somewhere in the back of my mind is some tv chef doing this gesture but I can’t think of which one no matter how
much I strain my brain.

@gailcalled

I loved reading the pages in your link. So interesting. It starts off as a French thing and ends up in America being appropriated by numerpys Italians. Our country really is a melting pot (Turkey notwithstanding) in the best
sense of the word.

@ucme

That is too funny for words. Loved it.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Buttonstc I did the search you recommended and found one instance of the same drawing. It is for Pizza Rock in Las Vegas NV.

That is the guy! I’ll bet there are others.

Buttonstc's avatar

I’m quite sure there are others.

Were you referring to my first search or my second one?

This image came up in both. The only difference was it was the mirror-reverse of the pic you posted.

The web address for it was a site called www.clker.com. It’s a free clip art site so either that one or a similar site is most likely where the Nevada guy (or his ad agency or graphics guy got it from)

Since it’s in public domain, I’m sure it’s being used by numerous food places all over.

It’s highly unlikely that the Nevada place was it’s origin. This is the one I was referencing when I said how rough it looked. That’s what happened in the old days (before digital imaging) when something got copied a zillion times and increasingly lost fidelity with each successive generation.

Since it’s so ubiquitous on free image sites, it would be next to impossible to find it’s first use.

In all likelihood, whoever drew it originally used it on something easily copied like a newspaper ad. And then it continued to spread.

I forget the name of the company but before things were easily available digitally via computer, they published clip art image books. Each would have pages and pages devoted to cvarious topics like holidays, food, entertainment, family etc etc and I’ll bet this image was in at least one of their books.

Back in the day, (way way back) I briefly worked for a company that mailed out coupons for local businesses (similar to VakPak) and part of the job was designing the coupon so I had a bunch of these books as well as a growing collection of stuff I copied or clipped out of every magazine and newspaper I could find including borders and edgework design art.

This was in the days of LITERAL COPY-PASTE with tape and glue and the whole nine yards.

So I utilized a lot of these generic images looking so raggedy-edged compared to today’s stuff.

It brings back some fond memories. Most of the other reps hated this part of the job but for some reason, I really loved it and took a lot of time. And the store owners appreciated their coupons looking better than just words.

No matter how raggedy looking an image, it really got the point across.

Fun times.

If anybody remembers the name of the company that published those image books, drop me a PM or put it in the thread. Their name was the
biggest and most well known for this type of thing and I bet they’ve got a dynamite website nowadays.

Fun times.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Buttonstc The Nevada place has this guy . The place in Rochester has him on their roof. Clearly they’re from the same book.

kritiper's avatar

Maybe I’ve seen a chef on a container of salt substitute winking and giving the “OK” sign…

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