What Are There Dress and Grooming Codes For Culinary Students?
If you were thinking of attending a culinary school and wondered what to expect when it comes to grooming codes or dress codes, I visited a couple of schools to see what they expected. One of the schools is a big name program and the other is a small community college.
You will not be surprised to learn that both programs have very similar dress and grooming codes. The codes do vary from big for profit culinary schools to community colleges, but for the most part have a similar theme. Most schools want to promote a learning environment in which students will dress professionally or “dress for success”.
The working dress code will depend on and be determined where you end up working, but most schools have a pretty stringent code they want you to adhere to. Whether the school provides you with a uniform as part of your tuition or you are held responsible to buy it, either from the school or from an outside source, these are the items you will be expected to have. The dress and grooming codes enforced in culinary school will transfer over to any professional culinary job.
Some schools provide aprons for their students with their logos in place, others ask you to buy aprons from the school, and then there are schools that do not care about logos and just require you to have one.
Typically you will be wearing a white “bistro” style apron that is mid length, which means below the knee but not below mid calf. It is usually required for these aprons to be clean and pressed.
Chef’s Jacket and Neckerchiefs
The white chef’s jacket should be long sleeved, double-breasted and worn with the sleeves cuffed no further than the wrists, unless told otherwise. The double-breasted panel on the front is useful because it can quickly be reversed to hide stains.
Sometimes it is customary to have your name as well as the logo embroidered on the jacket. The breast pocket of the jacket can usually contain one clip-on pen, thermometer, and notebook.
It is appropriate to only wear solid white undergarments under the chef’s jacket. Sheer or see-through clothing as well as leather or denim clothing is not usually permitted.
The Neckerchiefs are white, clean and worn at all times.
Like the other garments, the chef’s pants should be clean, wrinkle-free and hemmed above the natural heel and below the ankle. The pants, which most schools are more lenient about, are loose and made out of cotton. Usually they come in patterns, like checkered, or colors that can easily hide stains.
Shoes and Socks
The shoes should be leather black with skid resistant soles. Chef’s clogs are acceptable as long as they are clean, however no tennis shoes or athletic shoes should be worn. The socks paired with the shoes should be white or dark colored, clean, and fit to cover the ankle.
Most, but not all, culinary schools require a toque chef hat, toque being the French term for a chef’s tall white hat. Some other schools allow hats in the form of baseball caps, skull caps or berets. To learn more about Chef Hats and their history.
Similar to the culinary dress codes, the grooming standards are important for professionalism as well as sanitation and safety in the kitchen.
It is necessary that you must be clean-shaven, or in some cases, neatly trimmed. Sideburns should not exceed the middle of the ear, and beards are not permitted. However goatees and mustaches are usually allowed as long as they are neatly trimmed and kept close to the face.
Different school may have different lengths of facial hairs that they allow their students to have, but for the most part the hair needs to be kept short and manicured.
Hair should be neat and cleanly trimmed. If the hair is not short, then it needs to be in a ponytail retrained above the collar by a hairnet or pins, not just tucked into a chef’s hat or coat.
Hair should be restrained in a professional manner with black or white barrettes, or scrunchies. Most schools also require appropriate natural hair color like neutral shades of black, brown, and blonde. Bangs must be kept to the top of the eyebrow.
Fingernails need to be short, neat, and clean, which includes being free of any polish. They must be regularly trimmed in order to prevent sort of cross contamination.
No facial jewelry, such as in eyebrows, eyelids, lips, tongue, upper ear or nose is permitted with the culinary dress code and it cannot just be covered with a bandage. The only jewelry that is acceptable is one plain ring and one watch. The culinary school may issue pins, which can be worn on the front of the uniform as they state.
These are the basics of the Culinary Dress and Grooming Codes that are required not only in schools but also in many professional kitchens.
For the most part, a chef’s uniform usually costs from $80-$300 and can be an additional cost to the tuition and typical costs of culinary school. However it is important to check with the establishment for specific instructions on the codes, as they may differ slightly.
The uniforms should always be clean at the beginning of each day. Most schools will have some kind of deduction when it comes to the dress and grooming rules. Not only do these codes create a professional learning environment, but they also ensure safety and sanitation when in the kitchen.
Most culinary schools are strict about the dress and grooming codes so it is important to follow them as verbatim.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.