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Appearance and hygiene.

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I've recently started culinary school and I have a question.

Is it okay for your employees to show up in dirty uniforms, unshaven, and just generally unkempt?

I'm attending one of the bigger name schools with the big tuition, and there doesn't seem to be much emphasis on hygiene.

I've always thought that this is a big deal.

Is that just presumptuous?

I'm not sure that I want to continue in a school this expensive, that doesn't place emphasis on cleanliness, as well as work ethic.

Any thoughts?
post #2 of 28
Any culinary school should have the same expectations of their students than a chef at a 5 diamond hotel would have of his or her staff.

We have the same issues up here too. At the college where I teach, there's a strange dichotomy between the PR that goes about (we are a Premier school in North America, top 5 bla bla bla), and what the teaching staff can and cannot do. No one ever seems to fail or get expelled.

So there are loads of unkempt students at my school too.
post #3 of 28

apperience and hygiene

I find most young people today unshaven and dirty but that's just me being middle aged and bitter, bring back the 80's when hair gel meant something.

All kidding aside yes personal hygiene is important, in a work enviroment I would not let any of our employees into any areas of any of our restaurants if I feel they do not conform to our dress or hygiene codes, that is part of my responsibility, was there any minimum standards set down when you where excepted to this school? maybe your lecturers are happy right now that the students are actually showing up for classes.

I think though you might be better to be more focused on your own studies than on the people around you, this is a very diverse and multi-cultural industry the guy next to you may be just trying to make rent and keep his belly full, remember in the words of Saint Anthony of Bourdain "it takes a whole village to break a few eggs" though that may be a miss quote.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
I really appreciate your input in this.

I am very established in healthcare, and this is just the beginning of a career change.

I think that the fact that the tuition is so steep is just giving me cold feet. I just hope that it is worth what I am spending.

At this point, I'm wondering if maybe an apprenticeship would have been a better investment. The ONLY reason that I didn't take that route from the beginning is that I couldn't afford the paycut, right now.

I've been reading these posts for about 3 years now, and these are the my first posts. I realize that this subject has been beaten into the ground.

But I want to know: if I decide to change schools and try for an apprenticeship program, in lieu of school only, will I be eligible for promotion, after working in the industry for a few years?

The reason that I ask that question, is that I was led to believe by the school recruiters, that my only chance for promotion would be only.

I would ultimately like to teach....a few years down the road.

Any of your vast insight would be greatly appreciated.
post #5 of 28
IF you want to teach, alot of schools are requiring at least a BA from applicants, so keep this in mind before leaving.

I was also disappointed with the overall enforcement of rules at one of the big schools I went to. One kid was painting with his checkered pants and had a HUGE blue splotch on the back of his leg, nobody ever said anything to him and he wore those pants throughout the curriculum. It originally bothered me, but I decided to focus my attention on learning and not so much what other people are doing.

Once in the industry, it is going to go by experience, ability, and loyalty. From what I have seen, employers could care less what school you graduated from, it is more about what you can do after being hired , not what you did before being hired.
post #6 of 28

No No No No No No

absolutly not , not ever the bacteria count on those dirty uniforms would be obscenely high, the quickest way to kill off your customers and get hit with law suits and health departments coming in and shutting you down faster than you can say soap powder. Bacteria multiplies by the millions every 20 minutes can you imagine after sitting screwed up in a heap , next to anything else that might be around how much disgusting crap and bacteria is going to be sitting on that uniform after 8-12 hours:eek::eek::eek::eek:
If you have people coming in looking like they have slept in their uniforms in a muck heap and havnt heard of Mr Schick then you seriously have to wonder how much care, love and attention they will put in their food, both in the preparation and the presentation,and how concerned they would be of good food hygiene.
Its totally unprofessional , and disrespectful to the people around you and the food that you prepare to ever come in to a kitchen looking a mess with no care or attention paid to how you look which then reflects on the food you prepare.

At our school they are very strict , anybody that comes in with out the correct uniform, or if its dirty gets sent home , no ifs or buts, and as for the unkempt and unshaven thing well thats a big no no too , one of the guys in my class has come in to school a couple of times with out shaving , hes been given a verbal warning and a written warning and sent home , one more written warning and hes out of there

IF i were you i would either complain to school management or find yourself a new school that everybody can hold their heads up high and be proud to be in this magnificent profession ........

ok im off my soap box now and off to bake cupcakes:beer:
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
when life hands you lemons, make lemon gelee, lemon meringue pie, or any other dessert your heart desires
post #7 of 28
Being a REAL chef is all about being profesional not yelling screaming, its about incougaging the new person on how to work, cook, act, and look..Its is extreamely unprofesional to were dirty uniforms and not practice proper hygiene, my self in my tool ( knife) kit carry disposible razors with me for those who don't want to come in looking profesional....Clean pressed uniforms and clean faces are extreamely important. When I go out to eat, which is daily, I see a employee come out of that kitchen looking like who did it an ran, the first thought in my head is wow the kitchen must look just like that, yuk, got to go eat some were else.....Be a profesional...You will find that most people who come to work looking like that are doing much to much partying and are a danger to themselves and us...Carefull of the diry ones....Just my exprience for what ever its worth
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
post #8 of 28
I use a linen service for chef coats, checks, DW snap-shirts and server dress shirts. it sort of negates the issue of clean uniforms.

I don't mind if someone wants to grow out a beard or whatever - as long as it doesn't affect the cleanliness or quality of their work.

Also right now about 30% of my kitchen staff has some sort of formal culinary education - but promotions are typically doled out entirely on a basis of skill and reliability. This is an independently owned restaurant, however, and your mileage may vary. I'd be very surprised to hire someone with under five years of actual service experience who I'd feel comfortable in a sous chef position, and astonished if someone with less than ten years experience would have a broad enough culinary experience to be an apt teacher.

This isn't really a good profession to get into if you want a reasonable paycheck in the near future.
post #9 of 28
You're right, It is a big deal.
Someone who turns up for work looking like a bag of "£!*&^ might just have the same ethical turn out for his/her food...Non starter in my book
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #10 of 28

cooks that look like animals...

No, employees shouldn't show up for work dirty--but they will and do...
Employees shouldn't sho up stoned, hung over, angry, unprepared, and so on--but they will and do...
Most of the schools try to teach good hygiene, but they won't refuse to take your tuition just because you're an idiot. They know that once you try to get a job, your tuition will have been wasted, and maybe that's what it will take to teach you the big lesson...don't be too hasty to blame the school for having lousy students...
post #11 of 28
Promotions are the results of many things, usually a combination of being the last man standing, the only one who actually gives a hoot, the one who can deal with people, the union favorite, or the one who can competantly cook. School never factors in. Ask the school recruiter if he/she is paid a straight salary, a combination of salary and commission, or straight commission and only a "representitive" of the school. Guess where your tuition is going....
That should take care of that part of the question.

Hygiene makes or breaks the kitchen. Show me an unkempt crew and I'll show a stove, fryer, and hood with 1/2" thick grease build up, the food processor stuck to the counter, and the dishpit looking and smelling like a mushroom farm. Unkempt crew gross out the waitresses, and really gross out the customers--those funny people who pay the house, who in turn pays the bills and then pays the salaries
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #12 of 28
Best kid we have right now didn't go to school. He started in a dishpit, then prep, gardemanger, etc. Now he has been to his year1 for apprenticeship training & is years ahead of the kids just coming out of some culinary arts program.

He learned the ways of the kitchen before he learned the ways of the chef. Big difference. If he sticks with it he'll probably end up in magazines or tv. He's a natural. On line & off.

I don't think there is a set way to go about it. It's more about the individual's assets.

Puncuality, reliability, attitude, calmness under extreme pressure, results, efficiency, commonsense, etc. Those are valuable traits in this industry. Knowing 16 ways to prepare potatoes, not so much.:chef:
post #13 of 28
LOL I think it's quite funny the way some kids show up. I'm in school right now. I go to a CC in Mi. We have strict policies on shaving, attendence, and appearence. You must shave, I cn't even begin to tell you how many times I seen a kid sent home, or sold a disposable to. It happens at least once a week. In a 16 week term, if you miss four classes you fail, plain, and simple. Tardies also figure into this. Last semester I seen a kid sent home on the day of the final. Chef told him, it won't do you any good to sit here, and waste more of my time. It will be tougher this, and next week. The ACF is coming in for recertification.

post #14 of 28
I guess there's a notion of moderation - I don't mind if one of my guys shows up with stubble and uncombed hair. But obviously rolling out of a dumpster and wearing a flea-ridden potato sack is beyond unacceptable.

Sending someone home to shave, though? I'd feel pretty silly addressing that issue to a 40 year old Ecuadorian who grills my steaks to pay his mortgage. It's not like he's rubbing them on his face, or kissing customers on the neck. (That I know of.)

(although I guess I'll start rechecking the nooks and crannies of the stations of my scruffier kitchen staff, heh!)
post #15 of 28
Johnson and Wales had a very strict dress code when I was there. I saw a fellow classmate get sent home for having a few straggly facial hairs below the sideburns. The teacher told them to go home and trim them and then they could come back. The thing is this student was a girl.
post #16 of 28

Focus on Self

I deplore relaxed standards in culinary schools. Some are stricter than others. A key point is that culinary schools are a BUSINESS in a FOR PROFIT arena. If they reject too many students the profit drops and the accountants go beserk.

If you apply high standards to yourself in your appearance and devotion to learning you become a leader by example.

Good Luck
post #17 of 28
Paul is right. I started school 6 months ago and was appalled at the number of students in my class who came to school in wrinkled up, stained uniforms. I let it annoy and distract me for almost a month before I let it go and focused on what was really important...learning!
My class started with 34 students, as of yesterday we were down to 14 of us left. Guess who is gone, all those people who came in wrinkled and dirty, and the ones that always slept through lecture. Hang in there, those of you in your class who are serious will be there all the way to graduation.
post #18 of 28
It is a critical control point in food safety and anything less than the standard is unacceptable. A surgeon doesn't operate without being completely clean and neither should anyone in the food service industry.
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

1 ACF Bronze
Finally following my heart to do what I love.

1 ACF Bronze
post #19 of 28
i agree... yesterday one of the cooks where i work who persistantly refuses to wash his whites (a washing machine and washing powder is provided) left them next to the washing machine...

a quick dip in a dirty mop bucket and he soon realised the importance of caring for your whites., they arent even his to keep dirty, we got some in, because we cant expect everyone (at this level anyway) to own their own.

the facial hair thing bothers me... i myself maintain a goatee with a moustache... of course the hairs on my face are trimmed with a wilkinson sword quattro titanium precision (blatant product pushing there, but it is a great razor... it has blades, i use it to cut, it belongs here!! :D) on the number 1 setting and the rest are shaved with the 4 titanium blades twice a day... my head hair is kept short and under a hat. (even my other hairs are kepts trimmed... just in case)

this same cook who wont wash, also has long hair (longer than his ears, therefore its long, hippie.) and an unkept facial hair thing....

once we made him shave... he cut himself quite badly so now he keeps it trimmed with an electric razor... also, he washes his whites would you believe... and if not... theres the oven that needs a wipe out hehe

as to needing quals... i have no formal training, not one to my name (in this field anyway, im a qualified network engineer lol!) and it hasnt stopped me yet, my sous has no formal training in this field (a few vocational quals though)

i never did understand the need for a degree in cooking... i mean, anyone can follow a recipe... eventually you pick things up... i guess if i applied though with say (and this isnt what i have so dont think too highly of me) 2 years exp prep cook, 4 years exp line cook, 4 years sous, 6 years head chef, 3 years exec chef i dont reckon they would turn me down out of hand...
post #20 of 28
When I was in culinary school, anyone who came to class without their whites immaculate lost marks. So much as a wrinkle in the sleeve could mean 3% from your final mark.

Also if you couldn't leave the kitchen in your whites for the 15 minute walk back to the class, because they were too dirty, you lost marks.

All of us really learned to appreciate working clean. Dirty whites, facial hair and and hair longer than 2 finger widths under the chef I'm with right now, and you will be sent home, may not be coming back.
Tough, but tough rules keep the food coming out healthy and clean.
post #21 of 28
I go there now, and it hasn't changed, though some chef instructors are less strict.
There is a huge portion of the student handbook dedicated to what is considered proper hygiene and appearance.
I've seen kids sent back because of improper ironing, not being freshly shaven, and most frequently unshined shoes.
I think working so closely with food and product that will be consumed by the public, you need to pay great attention to detail in appearance and hygiene. If I'm going out to eat somewhere and I see sketchy looking people in the kitchen I won't hesitate to leave.
post #22 of 28
I went to Scottsdale Culinary, Cordon Bleu......Very Strict....3 years ago. But then there always seems to be someone who pushes the limits.
In the kitchen cleanliness IS next to godliness!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I don't want someone in day old dirty clothes near my food, nor do I want anyone who can't take pride in a clean appearance near my food......I don't want to imagine what they were doing before they made my salad or sauteed my fish.
post #23 of 28


I can tell you this in the real workforce coming to work dirty can and will cost you a job. I do not clock workers in if: not shaven, clean or smell wierd. its a health issue. so you have a couple minutes to fix whatever clean up problem you might have before your late. being late is 1/2 a point you get 9 points untill you are in unreversable trouble. 11 points is a byebye.
post #24 of 28
Keep it clean. Dress for the job you aspire to.

In my class, you need to come dressed in full uniform, no jewelry-save for a wedding band, shaved and clean. (minimal make-up~forget about the press on nails.)

Kitchen shoes are a must. I've had students fall with sneakers on ~ bad scene.

just because I'm at a community college, does not mean we can't run with the big boys.

Wanna be a slob? Stay out of the kitchen.

that's all i have to say about that.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!

Professor Pastry
post #25 of 28
Where I'm currently studying (one day a week - the rest of the week is spent in a kitchen), it's a big no and people have been kicked out for showing up unkempt. Baseball caps, sneakers, no neckties, rings on fingers and in noses - another big no. Thankfully, our head teacher has balls and has no problem pulling you up if you turn up looking like a hobo and giving you a shirtfronting in front of everyone. If a school does not uphold its own standards then it's not a school worth attending (IMHO).

Given this day and age where rights seem to count more than responsibility this has been challenged by one or two students but it's the class that has shipped them into line. Too many expect an easy street and I have no time for that.

I respectfully disagree with the comment regarding getting into this profession and not getting a good pay cheque, though. The pay and the rewards are there if you want them and are prepared to work hard and present yourself well.
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
Nobody likes being told what to do.
Until they get lost.
post #26 of 28
First many local health departments rulings state street clothes are not permitted in the kitchen. Dress into clean uniform at school. If they look sloppy and unkept, thats the way they will work. I would not permit them in kitchen. The main thing to note is if you dont have pride in yourself, how can one expect you to take any pride in what you do.
post #27 of 28
That's what I was thinking. The money and stability is in health care. But if all you want to do is teach go for it.
post #28 of 28
the executive chef where i work is a 28 year old CIA grad, and is very strict about the dress code.
only whites under your whites, clean shaven everyday, etc.
i'm 25, and have really fast growing facial hair, so having to shave everyday at 6am before work absolutly SUCKS, but i do it not only out of respect for him and his rules.
i don't want to loose my job, or get on his bad side over something as trivial as shaving.

all the other cooks there seem to have no problem complying either, and we're a pretty young kitchen.
the only people over 30 are 2 of the 3 sous chefs.
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