Kim Lariviere has learned to stand back from the stove while nude. “You get spat at constantly when you make bacon, and my boobs get the worst of it,” she tells me. “I have to man the grill, the flat top, the burners and the deep fryer. It can get a little bit painful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Lariviere is the head honcho at the Bare Bistro, the onsite restaurant at Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park in Sharon, Ontario. To hear Lariviere tell it, she’s just like any other cook. She’s helmed the kitchen for six years, and she’s known for her hearty campground fare like hot dogs, cajun-spiced wings, hamburgers and reubens. She also makes a mean chicken parm, though she’s not fond of quesadillas. “They’re just so time-consuming,” she sighs. During the height of the summer tourist season, she serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to as many as 100 visitors a day. And as a lifelong naturist, she does it all without a stitch of clothing.
“Nudism” and “naturism” are broadly interchangeable, though some practitioners feel the latter term suggests a more philosophical approach to living life in the buff. That’s the credo at Bare Oaks, where Lariviere and her wife enjoy a leisurely, largely nude life in their mobile tiny home. Bare Oaks bills itself as one of Canada’s premier naturist resorts, boasting 50 wooded acres, 110 campsites, fully-equipped cabins and guest rooms. It’s a nude paradise, with a bustling social scene and regular events including volleyball tournaments, 5K fun runs and stand-up comedy — all accented by a hearty dining experience at the Bare Bistro, where Lariviere’s signature vittles are available year-round.
A passionate home cook, Lariviere has no formal culinary training or restaurant experience. She and her wife migrated to Bare Oaks after Lariviere retired from her job as a kinesiologist; soon after, she started assisting a friend in the Bare Bistro kitchen. She quickly worked her way up the ranks, despite her relatively limited experience as a nude cook. Though Lariviere was raised as a naturist, she says that her time at the Bare Bistro introduced her to the joys of nude cooking. “We were nude all the time, but I never cooked in the nude,” she says. “At our [Bare Oaks] site, I’d barbecue in the nude from time to time, but I never cooked inside nude. But now, it’s like — yeah, baby. I’m not putting clothes on.’”
The Bare Oaks Member and Visitor Agreement dress code clause states that “clothing should be worn only for protection.” That extends to the Bare Bistro kitchen, where some of Lariviere’s staff choose to wear small protective aprons while cooking or serving. “A lot of my servers will wear a little tiny apron to cover their bottom area, because that area is in everyone’s face when you’re serving,” she says. “But I refuse.” Meanwhile, Lariviere prides herself on “setting an example for nudity,” a testament to her belief in the park’s values of openness, harmony and self-acceptance. (That’s also why she signs her emails “Naturally Yours.”) For Lariviere, those values are key in the kitchen. “You enjoy [cooking] so much more when you’re free,” she says. “You’re not getting tangled up in anything; you’re not ruining your clothes with grease. Anyway, you only live once. Just enjoy it.”
She’s certainly not alone in embracing the freedom of the naturist lifestyle. The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) boasts a membership of more than 200,000 naturists. Per Google Trends, searches for “cooking nude” have remained steady over the last five years, with a noticeable spike in April 2020 when most of us were confined to our homes. And while a Reddit search for “naturist cooking” yields surprisingly few results, a search for “nude cooking” is much more fruitful. (It’s also slightly more pornographic.)
Naturists seek the lifestyle for a number of reasons — the AANR says benefits including relaxation, stress relief and positive body image. “Nudists respect each other’s individuality,” the organization writes. “Our own self-esteem is enhanced by our ability to accept ourselves as we really are. We find it easy to accept others regardless of physical size, shape or body condition. Moreover, social class distinctions, often indicated by clothing, disappear.”
Despite the unrestrained appeal of garmentless grilling, the practice does pose a number of safety hazards. Lariviere is quick to point out that she’s sustained her fair share of kitchen injuries — although clothed cooks certainly face similar issues with burns and cuts. “When I’m cooking, it’s very warm because we have our salamander oven underneath the flat top, which is right at your private area,” Lariviere says. “If I stand there for too long, I’ll get a nice line of red down there.” But the occasional bout of kitchen discomfort doesn’t stop her from cooking in her birthday suit. “I’ve often thought, ‘Kim, just put an apron on,’” she says, laughing. “But I just don’t want the apron. I’m as free as an eagle and I hate clothes.”
Naturally, some first-time visitors may have concerns about food safety practices in an all-nude kitchen. (Will a stray schlong tickle my spaghetti? Will a drooping breast graze my barbecue?) However, Bare Oaks’ most recent health inspection report was fully above-board, save for a minor storage issue and a malfunctioning cooler. The resort falls under Canada’s York region health department, and that department’s inspection criteria fails to mention kitchen nudity as a hygiene concern. “I’m always nude during health inspections,” Lariviere says. “They’re not so concerned about me being nude because my kitchen is so clean; everything else is in top order. One of our health inspectors even became a Bare Oaks member.”
Ultimately, Lariviere hopes to spread the joy of nude cooking far and wide. To her, it’s peak culinary artistry, unrestrained by cumbersome sleeves or uncomfortable buttons. And it’s easy to start, even if you’re not quite ready to let it all hang out at a naturist park. For beginners, Lariviere recommends starting slow and focusing on safety. “Just stand back at least half an arm’s length away,” she hammers home one last time. “It’s all about the splatter. Men need to be careful because of the splatter, so they might want to cover their genitals to start. Try it a couple of times with a little apron around your waist, and then take the apron off once you’re used to it.”