Most roles in the hospitality industry have a uniform. Usually created by the workplace, uniforms typically are born from a mixture of sector regulations and business branding needs.
When it comes to hospitality workwear, chefs uniforms are about as crucial as a garment can be. Chef uniforms aid hygiene, safety and comfort, so they have to be of a high standard to achieve their purpose. When choosing workwear, it’s critical chefs know what to look for and why. This article outlines why chefs need to wear a uniform and the garments they should choose.
Why do chefs need to wear a uniform?
Chefs need to wear a uniform to comply with government regulations and ensure they adhere to their workplace guidelines.
1. Government regulations about chefs uniforms
According to the Food Standards Agency, anyone who handles food for non-personal consumption needs to ensure it is safe. To keep food safe, individuals have to maintain a high level of personal hygiene, including wearing clothing that is suitable for food preparation, clean and protective.
Clothing suitable for food preparation
Clothing worn during food preparation needs to be suitable by achieving three key things: a good fit, being of high quality, and having no defects.
An excellent fitting chefs uniform means not being baggy or with loose cuffs that could dip into and cross-contaminate food. Uniforms also need to reduce the risk of body hairs or fluids contaminating food by adequately covering the torso, legs and head.
A high-quality uniform means being washable at high temperatures (up to 60ºC) and sufficiently robust to offer a high level of protection.
Clothing without defects means chef uniform without damage that could cause cross-contamination, such as loose threads.
Chefs uniforms should always be clean to make sure the food preparation area remains hygienic. Therefore, chefs or workplaces should wash garments to at least 60ºC after every shift, and all chefs should have two uniforms to alternate.
Chef workwear needs to be protective. Chefs should wear clothing that can protect them from burns should hot liquids be spilled, and any footwear should be non-slip.
2. Workplace guidelines about chefs uniforms
Most establishments that serve food have strict uniform guidelines for their chefs. They set these guidelines to ensure their staff clothing complies with the above government regulations and keeps staff safe.
While some self-employed chefs might not have strict workplace uniform guidelines, they still have to comply with the mandatory government rules. Therefore, they usually wear the same garments as employed chefs: garments designed with the regulations in mind.
What garments complete chefs uniforms?
Chefs are known for wearing a white all over jacket, trousers and tall chef’s hat. In recent years, chef uniforms come in various colours, including solid black or chequered designs. However, simple chef whites are still the most common as they are easy to keep clean and look smart when front of house. Below are Alexandra’s most popular chef clothing items.
A simple chef jacket is the centrepiece of a typical chef’s uniform. They commonly feature two-way fastening buttons and a short Mandarin-style collar, which helps to keep the wearer cool. Chefs might prefer to choose a chef jacket with side panels made from a moisture-wicking material. Such a feature allows the evaporation of sweat for rapid cooling in the heat of the kitchen.
To complete the main body of the uniform, most chefs choose elasticated waist trousers. The elastic gives more freedom of movement to aid comfort during long and busy shifts. For the most professional look, stick to a classic style of either a solid block colour or a checkered pattern.
Headwear is an essential part of any chef uniform to make sure hairs don’t contaminate food. In recent years the chef’s skull cap has replaced the more traditional tall chef’s hat. Chefs tend to find the shorter cap more comfortable to wear as it’s not as heavy and doesn’t retain so much heat. Choose from a wide range of colours and various chequered patterns to get your desired look.
Some chefs might have long hair unsuitable for fitting in a cap or may simply make a stylistic choice not to wear one. In these instances, a bandana is a great alternative to wear as it offers more space and flexibility with sizing.
Chefs with beards will need to cover them in a beard snood. Similarly to headwear, the snood prevents stray hairs from falling into food.
A recent addition to chef wear is the waist apron. Chefs choose to wear them as they help to protect the more expensive jacket and trousers from worksurface-level spillages. The most useful aprons come with front pockets so chefs can store pens and notepads within easy reach.
As spillages are likely in the kitchen, the most crucial function of chef footwear is to be non-slip. Chefs tend to prefer wearing safety clogs as they have thick soles that protect against penetration from dropped knives. Another benefit of clogs is that they’re breathable to keep the feet cool – crucial for chefs who spend all day on their feet.
When purchasing your chef uniform, choose items that conform to government regulations and your workplace guidelines. Ensure any garments you select are suitable for your role, washable to 60ºC where appropriate and provide you with the proper protection.