Foodservice uniforms: Form, function and flair

The latest foodservice uniforms are speaking volumes.

restaurant uniforms illustration

The standard foodservice uniform has undergone a makeover. Whether to make the job more appealing or extend personality to the guest, operators are allowing workers to express their individuality through what they wear, from T-shirts to bandanas to hipster-style aprons. Even in more conservative operations, staff can show their personality through uniforms, now offered in a wide range of colors, fits and styles. In choosing uniforms, operators also are weighing the message their workers’ wear sends, be it one of culinary skill and expertise, or a sense of camaraderie with the community or the rest of the culinary team.

Dressing for success

As part of a revamp of dining services at Lincoln County School District in Fayetteville, Tenn., cafeteria staff at the K-12 schools were outfitted with chefs’ coats. More polished than aprons, the coats give the entire staff a professional flair and promote a sense of unity across the different locations, says Stephanie Britt, nutrition supervisor and dietitian for the district. “The uniforms allow us to present a good impression to people that may not know us well,” says Britt.

Chef’s coats also have improved the work ethic among staffers at Madison County School District in Richmond, Ky., says Director of Food Services Scott Anderson. “They’re proud and putting a little more effort into their work,” he says. 

A bit of personal flair

It’s now common in both restaurants and noncommercial kitchens for staff to dress in pants made from stretchy, breathable material that are moisture wicking. And today, fit is not only practical, it’s also fashionable. Yoga-style pants are starting to pop up for female cooks, while cargo pockets seem to be a big add-on for men. And instead of standard cuts, many restaurants spec shirts in gender-specific fits.

Lincoln County cafeteria staff can choose from two chef’s coat styles, based on fit and preference, with special inserts to keep them cool. “We try to pick something that’s got a wide variety of sizes,” says Britt. “We don’t want anyone to be singled out because of size.”

To add interest and a little fun, the district also has the cafeteria staff wear a different color chef’s coat every day of the week. And as a way to promote school spirit on Fridays, the coats are replaced
with team apparel from their respective schools. 

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