Restaurant Apparel Buyers' Guide
Finding restaurant uniforms for your employees is not just a matter of appearances, since the right pieces can protect your employees' clothes and even ensure their safety. Clothing elements for kitchen staff can also help ensure food safety and maintain employee comfort, which can increase productivity. KaTom offers a wide range of foodservice apparel for front- and back-of-house employees.
Aprons are some of the most common components of restaurant uniforms, with several styles available to fit every restaurant's needs. Bib aprons can be used by kitchen staff to protect clothing, as they cover the wearer from chest to knee. Some also have pockets to make them practical for serving staff. Bib aprons are available in vinyl and neoprene to protect the clothes of dishwashers, as well as in disposable plastic versions.
Waitstaff may prefer waist aprons, which simply tie around the waist and vary in length, hanging between mid-thigh and ankle-length. Hip aprons are small pockets attached to an adjustable belt, and are used for pen and pad storage, rather than coverage. Smock aprons, on the other hand, provide coverage on the front and back of the upper body, and usually have pockets all the way across the bottom of the front.
Cut-resistant gloves can help protect kitchen staff from injuries during food prep. These are available in several sizes and can be made of stainless steel encapsulated in polyester yarn or a more heavy-duty stainless steel mesh. The version that uses polyester is washable and often color-coded to aid in organization or to prevent cross-contamination.
Another important glove type to keep on hand in every restaurant is disposable food prep gloves. These can be made of polyethylene, vinyl, or nitrile rubber, and usually come in a box that doubles as a dispenser. These are required by the FDA health code1 to prevent staff from coming in direct contact with food when preparing or serving. Dishwashing gloves are more heavy duty and are usually made out of latex or nitrile rubber. These extend past the hands onto the arm to help protect the wearer from hot water and chemicals when washing dishes and cleaning.
Waiters' gloves are made of white cotton and are commonly seen in formal settings. These are available fitted and in one-size-fits-all. Oven mitts may be made of insulated fabric, silicone, neoprene, or Kevlar, and are available in several styles, including gloves, mitts, and puppet-style pieces. Pot holders, while not actually gloves, sometimes come with attachments to allow them to be wearable. Some pan grabbers have pockets for chefs to slide their hands into and others feature wrist straps to keep them handy.
Finding the right chef uniform helps your chefs increase productivity and stay safe, and makes it apparent who is in charge of the kitchen. Each of these items work together to create a comfortable and recognizable chef uniform, and each is available in a range of colors and sizes to ensure you can find what you need for your kitchen staff.
- Chef coats are available with short, three-quarter, and full-length sleeves. The most traditional color is white, but coats are also available in black, green, and red. Some have buttons or piping in contrasting colors. Many chefs prefer double-breasted coats, as they can be used to hide stains that may occur throughout a shift. For less-formal operations, chef logo t-shirts are also available.
- Chef pants need to be sturdy and comfortable. These are available in standard four-pocket designs or in cargo pants, and in a variety of patterns and colors. Houndstooth is a traditional favorite for its ability to disguise stains, but other patterns in various colors are also available. These pants can have an elastic waist or a button and zipper closure.
- Chef hats are probably the most recognizable pieces of chef apparel, with both classic and European styles widely recognized. Some health codes require all kitchen workers to wear a hat or other head cover to keep hair out of food, so other available options include ball caps, chef berets, pill box hats, skull caps, and scarf hats. Several types can be purchased in disposable packs.
- Neckerchiefs can help wick moisture away from the chef's neck, and can also add a pop of color to the uniform. These are a traditional part of a chef's uniform and can add a touch of sophistication to your establishment.
- Kitchen shoes are an indispensable part of the chef's uniform. These are made to be lightweight and breathable, while still providing a textured, non-slip bottom to prevent injuries on wet or greasy floors.
For operators who want to make sure their restaurant apparel provides a cohesive appearance, aprons, chef jackets, and some hats can be customized with your company's logo or a chef's name and title. To get started on a custom order, call a KaTom customer service representative at 1-800-541-8683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. FDA Code 2009. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed June 2016.