Dress for Success

Typical BOH and FOH hotel uniforms

Today I would like to discuss uniforms. They are after all, pretty important. It used to be straightforward, at least for me in the early days. Black shoes, checkered pants, white chef jacket, necktie, side towel, apron and hat. Seems things have changed. Not necessarily a bad thing. The only thing I like is consistency….Here are some examples of todays uniform styles. Where do you fit in? Read on below for my thoughts on this.

I personally am not one for conformity, anyone who knows me, can attests to that…lol. I do however like consistency. By this I mean, it fits the theme of the establishment you are working in. Customers and other employees should know your role by looking at you. And within your department, you should be able to identify the commander in chief and so on…Some of these lines have been blurred, and perhaps we have gotten a little too informal. Here is a list of things that I think are important, but still allow personal taste, and fashion.

  • Aprons; clean, pressed and the colour should compliment the uniform
  • Neckties; optional, but are nice for formal situations
  • pants; see aprons…
  • Jackets/other; depends on season and of course the environment…again see Aprons
  • Hats; optional, depends on hair(long, short, none)
  • Shoes; no options except maybe colour. Closed toe, slip resistant, safety certified

As for my personal preferences. I prefer a more formal look. Colour is OK, white however is the coolest colour in heat, but is difficult to keep clean. Also good quality “whites” can be expensive, ranging from $99 to several hundred dollars for a single jacket. THERE are better, more affordable options. I like Happy Chef, affordable, fashionable, customizable and colourful. Prices here range from about $20 – $60 Canadian. Shipping is free on minimum orders. I buy about a half dozen each year, and when I’m done with them, I have them dry cleaned and send them to chef friends that don’t have the luxury of such things. In terms of the rest of the apparel, it should harmonize with the jacket or shirt you choose. I don’t personally like hats, I keep my hair short and neat. Exceptions of course are formal situations were you need to shine. Otherwise comfort and consistency are the rule in my kitchens. Every type of foodservice establishment has there standards, and this can vary greatly between say healthcare(scrubs) to 4/5 diamond hotels(full professional look). As for the front of the house, same rules! I’ve been known to send people home for coming in with a dirty, messy uniform. Personal hygiene is also an important part of the program. Pleeeeeze come to work showered, alert, shaved and groomed…..otherwise don’t come in. Sounds harsh, we are professionals, and need to respect our profession as any other tradesperson would.

Cheers, and happy, tidy cooking!