The Strict Enforcement of Proper Appearance in Our Industry |

The Strict Enforcement of Proper Appearance in Our Industry

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

Executive Chef

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…"

Tina Powers
"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

Executive Chef

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?


tsmith001 • 04/07/2010
This has been an interesting topic of discussion at Francis Tuttle and many of our students have voiced their opinions on our group page of the ACF We Are Chefs site. Some of the feedback is quite humorous. As we move forward in the updating of our dress code at Francis Tuttle, a Career Technology Center where most of our students are high school, we will incorporate the feedback from our nation-wide panel of participants into daily inspections. On a personal level I have really come to appreciate the individuality and self expresssion of our students. They remind me of myself when I was in Career Tech AKA VO TECH in the 80s. I had the Rod Stewart Hair and a pierced ear then. 20 Years as a chef in the military reconditioned my way of seeing the wear of a uniform and quite frankly some of our students are in shock and some in tears over this issue as we speak. This is a great way to get the word out to culinary students and also to those establishments that have a different opinion about dress in the restaurant. I'm thankful to those who shared their view and enlightened by some of the comments. I really had no idea that some chefs are so passionate about the dress code in their operation. Some have even had security escort students out of the building for failing to conform to dress codes. I am a compassionate person and having a daughter in high school myself right now makes me see the school environment from a whole different perspective. I appreciate the students' point of view even if they disagree with me and most of the rest of the food service industry, but high standards of dress and respect for the uniform in our culinary department is viewed as a necessary introduction to discipline, structure, and professionalism that will prepare them for culinary college and the workforce. Thanks for featuring the topic on Gigachef. Travis SmithChef DirectorFrancis Tuttle Technology CenterOklahoma City, OK
haisoodewa • 04/07/2010
I remember disagreeing with the level of dress code enforcement back when I was in culinary school (sent home once for not being ironed well enough, ouch) but after a couple years in different open kitchens, it all made a lot more sense to me.
chefcynwalker • 04/08/2010
It is about attitude...if you're not willing to respect the industry enough to look professional...maybe it's not really the field for you.
anungesser001 • 04/08/2010
I am a culinary arts student and, often I am disappointed in my peers disrespect of our uniforms and poor respect for their own selves (not shaving, pulling hair back nicely, covering themselves in tattoos). I totally feel that it is a way of saying that they don't hold their own future career in high esteem. It makes it seem that they are not prepared for the day and the tasks to be done. I just wish people would realize it is so much more than a cheap costume.
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