How do you feel about the strict enforcement of appearance in our industry? Anyone who's spent a day in culinary school can tell you that the restaurant biz always prizes good appearance on the job. Industry rules often dictate not just what we wear, but also how we maintain our bodies. Many establishments enforce strict rules for jewelry, facial hair, tattoos, haircuts, and piercings.
The Francis Tuttle Technology Center in Oklahoma City recently put a call out to a handful of people in the industry who are responsible for hiring at their businesses. The group was and made up of chefs, GMs, culinary school instructors, and others who deal with fresh culinary employment everyday.
Here are some of their thoughts on kitchen appearance...
"I like to refer to tattoo sleeves as the $30,000 marker. Most cooks who have them will never make more than that. At our club all tats are required to be covered and if they are below their sleeve length or on the neck, face etc those individuals are never allowed to be in front of the membership. Shaving is a must, and I keep a nice dull razor available if they forget. If they forget more than twice they usually don’t last very long with us. Full uniform, including neckerchief and proper shoes and no t-shirts with writing that can be seen through the jacket. These rules are enforced and as with shaving usually more than once and the person is usually hunting for a new job."
J. Kevin Walker, CMC, AAC
Cherokee Town & Country Club
"We do discuss the importance of perception and professionalism and encourage the students 'Not to tattoo up.' If they do so, we also encourage them to get them where the general public will not see them…we suggest no tats below the elbows…certainly none on the face, neck or any gang related signs…
This one is tough as many already come in pretty tatted up ….I can’t tell you how many bad bacon, chili pepper, craaazy looking knives, and food related tats we see…also do not recommend tats that they will really regret…girlfriend or boyfriend names, etc… if a tat is new and oozing, they must keep them covered…if they are found offensive due to a sexual nature, or inflammatory such as certain gang signs or swastikas, etc, then they are also required to keep them covered…
We also keep razors at school…a nice dry shave drives home the point in most cases…"
"Coming from 10 years at the CIA, into a new country club, this issue has been on the forefront of my mind. At the CIA our uniform policy was extremely strict, and enforced by all the staff. Students were sent home if they were out of uniform or untidy in any way.
Here at the Merion Cricket Club, I inherited a group of cooks who had never been asked to respect their profession by dressing like professionals. Now that I have reached my 2 year mark here at the club, and I have instituted some standards in reference to the uniform policy, I have lost some cooks, but the ones who remain are more committed to their profession. When they dress in the morning, it is with respect for our profession, and respect for me."
Olivier Andreini CMC
The Merion Cricket Club
"I always use the analogy that you may be the greatest in your field but if your external image does not reflect it, peoples first impression will be skewed and it will negativly impact the perception of ones Profession.
My best example is that of a commercial Airline Pilot. I travel extensively and if I walk down the jet way into the Airplane and the Pilot wears a dirty Uniform or other unclean clothes, or just has an unprofessional attire and bad grooming I would feel very uncomfortable believing that he is a capable Aviator, even though he/she might be the best. The point is that a uniform represents externally ones profession, skills and dicipline,period."
Karl Guggenmos, MBA, AAC
WACS Global Master Chef
University Dean of Culinary Education
University Office of Culinary Education
So what do you think of appearance standards in our industry? Or more importantly, how important is employee appearance at your restaurant or food business?