The University of Chef Uniforms

By Ken Buben

Many of today’s restaurants, nursing homes, and any other food service establishments require that the executive chef at the very least utilizes a chef uniform. The chef’s uniform can vary from a work shirt to a classic double breasted chef’s uniform. These uniforms have been worn since the 1900’s in the food industry.

chef uniforms

Many restaurants, institutions and other food service operations utilize an outside vendor to provide and launder their restaurant clothing to an outside service. In my opinion this is a grave mistake.

A chef should be proud of what he is wearing in the kitchen, especially if he has contact with customers in the dining room. Not to mention the fact that a professional well-dressed chef gets a lot more productivity from his or her help. The same can be said for a CEO of a company who walks around in a well-dressed suit and gets more respect from his or her staff. Would that same person get the same treatment if they were dressed in some old dirty clothing?

I recall years ago, selling food products to the restaurant industry where a great knowledgeable German chef use to change his chef coat and go to the front of the house to greet and ask if everything was okay.

Have you ever been asked by a chef if your food was cooked well?         

The bottom line is not always the menu or price but who is preparing the food for your party. You would not want dirty hands cooking your food or dirty clothing to get into your food as well.

In short, I personally ask for a tour of a restaurant’s kitchen to glance at their refrigeration, the quality of the clothing and sanitary conditions before I order anything.

Have you toured your restaurant’s kitchen lately? 


Chef Uniforms – Own or Rent?

By Ken Buben 

Many Restaurants, hotels, caterers, nursing homes, and other foodservice establishments choose to “rent” their kitchen uniforms from a linen supplier which in turn services these uniforms for a fee.

Sound’s good right? But let’s look at the drawbacks to this system. First is the fact that many of these “cleaning” companies keep bringing the operator soiled product even after they had been “cleaned”. This is because the supplier recycles the uniform until it virtually falls apart. I was at a restaurant a few days ago at 8:30 am. This restaurant has an open windowed kitchen. I noticed a young chef with a chef coat that was EXTREMLY dirty. I asked him how long he had had it on. He said he asked the owner the day before if he could take it home and launder it himself instead of having the linen company do it. Well, the result was obvious that the dirt was so ground in that it would never come clean.

chef coat

Let’s consider the cost of using a cleaning service. I’ll use easy numbers for this exercise. And chef coats only.

Let’s say an operator has twenty chefs on staff each working five shifts and let’s also assume this operator is open from 7am to 10pm, hence the twenty staff.

20 times 5 equals 100 chef coats the operator is “renting” at about 50 cents per chef coat. Anyone can see that this equals fifty dollars a week; times 52 is $2600 per year. $2600 per year for sometimes filthy uniforms? Not if I owned the establishment. What would be worse is if the establishment had a carving station, pasta station, or if the chef went into the dining room to greet quests.

In my opinion a chef should own his own chef coat and be proud to wear it every day and replace it before it gets grungy.

It’s a fact that a patron in a restaurant has cleanness at top of his or her list of “Will I Eat Here Again?”

Image courtesy of stockimages at & Image courtesy of Aleks Melnik at