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Wait staff wearing... chefs' uniforms!?!


Lonnie
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When our son was home for the three-week break the CIA gives their students in July, we happened to dine at a Bonefish Grill (not our choice). Our son, generally an easy-going guy, was pretty offended seeing the entire wait staff wearing a uniform he's worked so hard to earn. Yep - white double-breasted jacket, houndstooth check pants. They looked ridiculous, since they were not cooking and probably don't know how.

This past weekend, we were in a small town in Pennsylvania (the absolutely adorable, gaslit - with real gas lights - Wellsboro), and ate at their best restaurant. Lo and behold, the wait staff was decked out in chefs' whites! Oh, except the pants were the most horrible pajama-looking things. They looked like they'd just fallen out of bed and grabbed the wrong jacket.

What on earth is going on? Can a stop be put to this nonsense? Who thinks up these things and then foists them on a public that would like to see a little dignity in the dining room?

Lonnie

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers." --James Thurber

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I hear you. Talk about the sacrifice of dignity in the modern world: the last time I was in London, I went to some bogus "Asian" noodle joint in Soho. I never saw anything so appalling in my life: the waiters were wearing print skirts!

I'm talking pale, heliophobic English blokes in bloody skirts. It was designed to give off "island" airs, I suppose. I wavered between sympathy and contempt for a bit, and settled on contempt. Any man who wouldn't willingly wear a skirt, but would allow himself to be dressed in one for cheap marketing purposes, isn't worthy of sympathy, or even pity.

My wife and I left without ordering. Neither of us could endure the sight of these eunuchs.

Thomas, aka the Wired Gourmet

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There is quite an excellent array of clothing specifically designed for service, far more elaborate than chefware.

Seems like people are grabbing at straws to be different, when they dont realize its an unnescessary reach.

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Chefs coats look clean and professional. It may be stupid to see them in the dining room for like .5 percent of the populace, but I'm sure nobody else notices, most probably think it's "a nice touch" anyhow, I'm sure ordering the same, washable jacket (not some fusssy dryclean only shirt) for othe whole staff is an effective means of cost control.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I for one think it's LAME. It's like dressing up janitors as doctors (whose outfits also look clean and professional!). :raz: Seriously, chefs coats aren't the most comfortable attire -- they're bulky and warm, and they're bright white which would make the wait staff really stand out as well as totally confusing who is a cook and who is wait staff.

I remember when waitrons at places I've worked would don a chefs coat when they were making crepes or bananas foster in the dining room, or were staffing the waffle bar -- even that would raise our ire. :raz:

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Chefs coats look clean and professional. It may be stupid to see them in the dining room for like .5 percent of the populace, but I'm sure nobody else notices, most probably think it's "a nice touch" anyhow, I'm sure ordering the same, washable jacket (not some fusssy dryclean only shirt) for othe whole staff is an effective means of cost control.

Next "Fire and Ice" restaurant that opens, why don't they just wear brand new fireman outfits.

And I am sure much more than .5 percent of the populace can tell its "chef/cook" uniform and its a little out of place. Just because a large scale of people dont understand food, doesnt mean they havent seen emeril and dont know what a chef uniform looks like.

Its pretty stupid, but there is no need to get upset about it, because its just one of those things that come and go. You can go to pretty much any regular restaurant and find something that will boggle your mind and make you say to yourself "why"?

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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The first time I noticed anything like this (though I'm sure the practice predates whenever I became aware of it) was at Chanterelle in New York, in maybe 1991. The servers were dressed very much like kitchen staff. I asked about it, and our server said the idea was to show that the whole staff was a team. I didn't cross-examine.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I've never seen front of house staff in full on chef's uniforms, that's bizarre. At the restaurant I work at, the FOH people do always take the kitchen aprons (full length, with pockets, as compared to little ones that only go above the knee). It looks silly (what would a waiter need that big thing for??) and it's annoying to those of us in the kitchen who are forced to wear front of house aprons when the waiters dirty all of ours before another batch comes.

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Hmmmnnn.... you wouldn't like my stepson, then. He's a tattoo artist & body piercer, and the uniform he decided upon for his shop is a black chef's coat over black pants. He says it's sturdy, practical, and makes him look cool yet professional.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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everyone at french laundry & bouchon (from TK to the dishwasher to the bartender to the busser) calls eachother "chef".

everyone works hard at the restaurant no matter what they do or what they wear.

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everyone at french laundry & bouchon (from TK to the dishwasher to the bartender to the busser) calls eachother "chef".

Where'd you hear/read that?

i've lived it. why? do you doubt it?

Yes. Why would anybody call anybody else who's not a chef "chef"?

everyone works hard at the restaurant no matter what they do or what they wear.

quoted from above...

well, its true. they're all chefs in tk's book.

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everyone at french laundry & bouchon (from TK to the dishwasher to the bartender to the busser) calls eachother "chef".

Where'd you hear/read that?

i've lived it. why? do you doubt it?

Yes. Why would anybody call anybody else who's not a chef "chef"?

everyone works hard at the restaurant no matter what they do or what they wear.

quoted from above...

well, its true. they're all chefs in tk's book.

I find that (everybody calling one another chef) difficult to believe without actual proof. Even if it is true, I think it's absurd -- one doesn't have to be a chef to work hard (and vice versa).

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everyone at french laundry & bouchon (from TK to the dishwasher to the bartender to the busser) calls eachother "chef".

Where'd you hear/read that?

i've lived it. why? do you doubt it?

Yes. Why would anybody call anybody else who's not a chef "chef"?

everyone works hard at the restaurant no matter what they do or what they wear.

quoted from above...

well, its true. they're all chefs in tk's book.

I find that (everybody calling one another chef) difficult to believe without actual proof. Even if it is true, I think it's absurd -- one doesn't have to be a chef to work hard (and vice versa).

what do you want me to do record it? they all call eachother "chef".

i am assuming that everyone is expected to act and present themselves as if they were "the chef"... i know the idea of carrying oneself as a chef at all times might be a stretch, but thats what they're striving for, and so, i guess, they call eachother chef... think of it as a command to task and a term of endearment.

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Personally I dislike the title 'Chef'. Nowadays the term is over-used, and pretentious. We're all really just cooks... While I would call my old chef 'Chef', he'd call himself a cook. (and he was MORE than qualified to carry the title of Chef)

As for waitstaff wearing cooks uniforms, I don't see the point. Cooks wear them out of necessity, not because they're stylish. Servers should be wearing black pants, a white dress shirt, optional tie and a white apron (IMO).

Personally I think the whole pop culture idea of a 'Chef' is rediculous.

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Ugh, I NEVER worked hard to earn the right to wear a uniform. I work hard for my respect in the kitchen, give me an effin t-shit and lets call it a day. Yeah, chefs coasts are nice and different and pretty, but if it's how you define your culinary existance..um, time to reconsider. At my old job, even the dishwashers wore chef coats. Why? because it's a kitchen uniform. Runners wore them. why? kitchen uniform.

A fireman without red suspenders is still a fireman.

Personally, I think it's corny looking to have servers in chef coats, but I think most restaurnats are pretty corny anyway so...cheese on...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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what do you want me to do record it? they all call eachother "chef".

i am assuming that everyone is expected to act and present themselves as if they were "the chef"... i know the idea of carrying oneself as a chef at all times might be a stretch, but thats what they're striving for, and so, i guess, they call eachother chef... think of it as a command to task and a term of endearment.

This sheds light on my son's experience at Terra Restaurant in St. Helena (at least one e-gulleter has said it's better than the French Laundry). Six months out there and he's calling everyone chef, even me! So I assume it was what they were doing in the kitchen. In fact, he got into the habit of responding, "Oui, Chef" to just about everyone. When I saw him at the CIA in Hyde Park, there was evidence of his buddies there already getting really tired of being called "chef" at every turn. That was two months ago; I think he's backed off using it.

It's been interesting reading everyone's opinion. No, the coat nor the name do not a chef make. It's a useful uniform, not necessarily well suited to the front of the house. Are the FOH people considered to be part of the same team as the kitchen folks? Seems to me they're often on opposing sides of the same game. :wink:

Lonnie

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all of the answers." --James Thurber

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The whole notion of servers wearing chef gear is a bitty silly, but I don't think it's worth getting worked up about. There is a chef "rage" at the moment in pop-culture. The restaurant is clearly trying to be trendy. It will pass, just like rages always do.

-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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So, how does everybody feel about those chefs/cooks who wear chili pepper pants, shiny chefs coats, and toques with flames? I think they're cheesy myself and think those individuals are just trying to call attention to themselves, and you just get the feeling they wouldn't want to do any dirty work for fear of getting their outfit dirty.

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So, how does everybody feel about those chefs/cooks who wear chili pepper pants, shiny chefs coats, and toques with flames? I think they're cheesy myself and think those individuals are just trying to call attention to themselves, and you just get the feeling they wouldn't want to do any dirty work for fear of getting their outfit dirty.

I hate stupid looking clothes. but my opinion is just that. there are alot of things I wouldn't be caught dead wearing in public, but to each their own. Now that I have a kitchen/office job....I can wear my custom made BLUE clogs!!!!!!!! Would I wear them on the street? f-no but the kitchen is like the bedroom, it's what pleases ME.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I've seen this more in behind-the-counter establishments -- bakeries, gourmets-to-go -- than in FOH. I don't understand how someone who is still a student worked hard to earn their whites. Shoot, half the home cooks around the country must have their own whites -- if people didn't buy them, Williams-Sonoma wouldn't have them in their catalog! CIA students wear their white jackets to wait tables ... with a shirt and tie under them.

And yes, TK and his crew call each other 'chef.' Yanno what? Everyone knows who the boss is.

And I said I would only blog this week ... :rolleyes:

(I worked in a 3-star kitchen where the stagers/trailers would come in droves, and grab all the white jackets. Cooks wound up wearing the dishwasher/porter's short-sleeved shirts, and one very tall person's pants came to about 6" above the ankle. Oh, I should have photographed that! :laugh: )

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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