Chefs Clothing Buying Guide
Your kitchen staff should always look the part, smart, professional and to reflect your brand. Not only is chef’s clothing and footwear designed to be practical, it also protects from some kitchen hazards. Additionally, chef’s clothing clearly identifies the job being done in the kitchen. Choose from all the different items available online on the Alliance website, not only will you find many options, there are colour choices too and uniforms for front of house, comfortable footwear, protective clothing, laundry appliances and of course, industrial sized washing powders for your convenience. All of the products listed are premium quality from well-known, reputable manufacturers for peace of mind.
These jackets have been specially designed for comfort, practicality and to look smart. They are also essential to protect clothing worn underneath. Made out of high quality materials, the Alliance products are suitable for high temperature washing and everyday use so they should last a long while. As your kitchen staff spend much of their time working with food, staining is part of the course so make sure you purchase durable products, if you prefer, black is also an option although traditional white chef’s jackets are still extremely popular. There are plenty of styles on offer too, double breasted, stud front and rubber buttons just some of the options.
Points to remember:
- Look for jackets that are easy to fasten for speed, studs and rubber buttons are a wise choice
- If the kitchen area is very hot, choose a material such as Coolmax* which stops the wearer from feeling the heat
- Again, if it is a very hot environment consider short-sleeved versions
- Have a stock of different sizes available
*A Note About Coolmax
This is a very popular material used in the catering industry; it is a practical polyester fabric which can take plenty of washing. The fabric pulls away perspiration from skin keeping the wearer cool and fresh, it’s a great option for chefs.
Front of House
Your customers’ first impression will depend on how your front of house staff are turned out so it is important to make the right clothing choice and to keep a strict dress code. Everything should always be freshly laundered and pressed so everyone working for you looks pristine when greeting and serving customers. The Alliance website has plenty of front of house clothing to choose from to make sure your brand is always recognised as reputable. Front of house would normally wear aprons and serving gloves. Depending on your livery and brand, there are plenty of colour options too or you may prefer to use plain and simple white or sleek black. Additionally, for convenience, some restauranteurs, pub or bar owners like to provide aprons with money pouches or pockets.
Points to remember:
- Keep it uniform
- Choose colours that blend with your brand or livery
- Everything should be perfectly washed and pressed before use
Sometimes chefs will just wear aprons rather than a chef’s jacket, or even wear an apron over the chef’s jacket. Some establishments like to co-ordinate their chef’s clothing with front of house whereas others like to use traditional styles such as checkerboard prints. Look for durable, practical materials that promise to wash well after use. There are plenty of styles to choose from:
- Pinafore or Bib These have an upper bib and lower panel to protect top and bottom, these fasten at the neck and waist and are the most popular
- Waist These fasten around the waist without a bib and are popular for waiter and waitress service
- Short Bistro These are short and come with a pocket and tie at the back
- Long Bistro These are ankle-length and tie at the back
- Mid These are mid length waist aprons which tie at the back
- Money Pouches These aprons come with a built in zip pocket to keep tips safe
Rather like the chef’s jacket, the trousers are designed for comfort, practicality and to protect clothing worn underneath. There are various options, such as plain which are the most suitable although gingham and checks are also extremely popular and brighten up a chef’s outfit no end! The choice is yours depending on the type of establishment you run, your brand and livery and the image you want to portray. Choose from: checkerboard in black, blue or red, gingham in grey and blue or plain black.
Chef’s Skull Caps and Headwear
It’s vital that any kitchen, domestic or professional has excellent hygiene standards and this means keeping hair swept away to avoid contamination with food. Hair must always be tied back if it is long and completely covered so choose from a variety of head coverings to ensure you meet the food safety standards. From mob caps to skull caps, traditional chef’s hats and trilby hats there is a large range available on the Alliance website to help you make the right choice.
- Mob Caps These are round hats with elasticated edging to sit firmly on the head and keep hair neatly tucked away
- Chef’s Skull Cap These are often used today as an alternative to traditional chef’s hats and are also a great way to co-ordinate kitchen uniforms
- Trilby Hats Often used for catering, trilby hats keep heads neatly covered. Sometimes wearers use a mob cap underneath the trilby for extra hygiene protection
- Chef’s Hats and Toques Choose from tallboys which are the elongated traditional chef’s hats to toques which fit snuggly around the head (usually elasticated) and have a mushroom appearance. These varieties are superb for a classic uniform
- Forage Hat These have a peak front and back and sit on top of the head and are disposable so useful to have available in the kitchen
It’s important to think about every item of clothing that staff needs to be comfortable while working in the kitchen area and also front of house because they are largely going to be on their feet during their shift so comfort is imperative! Things you should be looking for include high quality sole (and question whether insoles may be required) and a heel with a shock-absorber is a great benefit too. Additionally, choose shoes with a non-slip sole because spills in the kitchen and front of house can be slippery and become a hazard. Perform a risk assessment to make sure that the footwear being used by staff in your establishment is suitable. Other elements important in making your choice include easy to keep clean and if you can buy machine washable this will turn out to be very useful. There are plenty of choices on the Alliance website, all especially selected because of their practical nature.
- Trainers high quality, ergonomic trainers which are designed for comfort, safety and practicality.
- Ezi-Clog supportive, lightweight and slip resistant these are also washable, recyclable and anti-static with side vents to avoid fluid penetration.
- Leather Clog breathable, comfortable and soft leather clog with a cushioned sole and attractive buckle detail.
- Safety Clog Designed to give extra protection for heavier labour.
- Lace Up Safety Shoes With steel toe caps in case of heavy items falling, these protect feet from danger and are comfortable too with an anti-slip sole.
- Wellington Boots Non slip, comfortable waterproof protection for wet areas.
Points to remember:
- Choose hygienic footwear.
- Look for machine washable footwear.
- Anti-slip soles are hugely important.
- Lightweight, comfortable footwear is a must as staff will be on their feet for many hours.
- Look for footwear designed to alleviate back, knee and leg pain.
- Look for waterproof footwear.
Hygiene and safety rules and regulations rightly request that certain protective clothing be worn to keep food workers safe. Clothing should always be well-fitting, comfortable, with your logo if possible and freshly washed and pressed before wear. Good hygienic clothing encourages clean working too. Food Safety regulations state:
“Every person working in a food handling area shall maintain a high degree of personal cleanliness and shall wear suitable, clean and where appropriate, protective clothing.” There should also be suitable changing areas for your staff. If there are chemicals in your establishment’s working areas then certain clothing will be required as they may be irritants so it’s wise to have protective items available for staff to put on when necessary.
Head Covering/Facial Hair
Head coverings are important to avoid contamination and hair must be entirely hidden in the kitchen. Hairnets are needed underneath hats in the kitchen and often these are brightly coloured so clearly visible. Hats and hairnets in recent times have been replaced by mob hats which cover all the hair on the head. These are disposable for greater hygiene. Sometimes, caps are different coloured according to different working areas, making it easy to distinguish who is doing which job. By the same token, beards and facial hair should be covered with a beard mask and face masks are available to protect the lungs from dust (from flour and other similar ingredients), they are also extra hygienic when preparing food dishes.
Finally, plastic goggles might be required if there are any hazardous irritating substances depending on your circumstances and especially if workers wear glasses (to protect from glass shattering).