what do line cooks wear

What Do Line Cooks Wear: A Comprehensive Guide


Line cooks are integral parts of any kitchen, responsible for the preparation and cooking of food in restaurants and other food-service establishments. Working as a line cook can be an exciting and rewarding job, but it also comes with certain challenges, including the need to maintain strict safety standards and adhere to dress codes.

In the following article, we will provide a comprehensive guide on what line cooks should wear while working in the kitchen. We will discuss safety regulations, dress codes, essential clothing items, types of chef’s coats and aprons, non-slip shoes and other footwear options, headgear, and additional tips for proper line cook attire.

Safety Regulations for Line Cooks

Working in a kitchen can be hazardous if proper safety precautions aren’t taken. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set specific regulations that every line cook must adhere to in order to stay safe at work. Some of these regulations include wearing protective equipment such as gloves or goggles when handling certain equipment or chemicals. Additionally, every kitchen must have proper ventilation and exhaust systems installed to prevent accidents caused by hazardous materials.

One important reason why line cooks need to adhere to these regulations is that they can be held liable for any injuries sustained while working in the kitchen. It is important to understand the guidelines specified by OSHA before beginning work in the kitchen. Having a proper understanding of these guidelines may help reduce accidents and save lives.

Some common safety equipment that line cooks should have on hand include cut-resistant gloves when handling sharp objects such as knives or mandolins, heat-resistant gloves used when handling hot utensils or pans from ovens or stovetops, face shields or goggles when using liquid nitrogen or performing other activities that may project particles into the air.

Understanding Kitchen Dress Codes

Different types of kitchens may adhere to different dress codes. Some kitchens may have a more formal dress code where line cooks must wear suits or other formal attire, while others may have an informal dress code, where line cooks may only be required to wear casual clothing. Business casual is another type of kitchen dress code that is relatively relaxed, yet still professional and appropriate for work.

When considering which kitchen dress code to choose in any particular situation, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. For example, a formal dress code can create an atmosphere of decorum that often helps chefs and other employees maintain their focus on the task at hand. However, when working in hot or humid environments, a casual dress code may be more comfortable.

To determine what kind of dress code is appropriate in different kitchen environments, it’s important first to understand the vibe of the establishment and what kind of image the chef wants to convey to customers.

Essentials for Line Cooks’ Clothing

When selecting clothing for line cooking, several factors need consideration. Comfort is an essential factor since a line cook would continue standing for hours and dealing with hot temperatures most of the time. Durability is also necessary since the clothes will be exposed to heat, grease spills, and splatters daily. Functionality is probably the most crucial aspect since line cooks must select clothing that won’t interfere with the tasks they perform regularly.

No matter what type of kitchen a line cook works in, there are certain essential items that every line cook should have in their wardrobe. These essentials include:

Chef’s coat: A chef’s coat should cover most of the body to protect against spills and splatters. A traditional double-breasted coat provides maximum protection because it can be reversed if one side becomes soiled. Single-breasted coats are also available in both long- and short-sleeved styles.

Aprons: Aprons come in various types and sizes, with the most common being waist, bib, and bistro styles. Bib aprons are recommended since they protect a larger area of the body from spills and splatters than waist or bistro aprons. However, when cooking in tight spaces like food trucks or catering events, a shorter Bistro apron can be more comfortable.

Non-slip shoes: Non-slip shoes are essential to prevent slips and falls on wet kitchen floors. These shoes must also have adequate support for standing for long periods.

When choosing where to buy these essentials, there are many options available, including uniform distributors or online retailers.

Types of Chef’s Coats

The chef’s coat is one of the most crucial items in any line cook’s wardrobe. Not only does it keep the line cook clean in a messy environment, but it also serves as a statement of professionalism and competency. There are different types of chef’s coats available on the market, each offering specific features that may be necessary for different environments.

Traditional double-breasted: This style coat is a classic design composed of cotton or polyester material. Its double-breasted style offers both maximum protection (as per OSHA regulations) and has a reversible feature if one side becomes dirty. The button layout also allows the chef to unbutton and fold back just the top part of the jacket to allow for airflow during hot conditions.

Single-breasted: This style is similar to traditional double-breasted coats but comes with just one row of buttons instead of two. It provides somewhat less clothing protection than its traditional counterpart.

Modern style: With new fabrics that help breathe while still retaining durability, modern styled chef coats feature lighter weight materials for maximum comfort even during long shifts. Some brands also offer options with temperature-regulating technology keeping you cool or warm even while working under extreme heat or cold conditions.

When selecting a chef’s coat, it is essential to consider the material it is made of, its breathability, and the kind of environment being worked in. A traditional double-breasted coat would be best for a more formal kitchen, whereas a modern style coat may be more appropriate for a contemporary casual establishment.

Different Types of Aprons

a line cook in the kitchen wearing an apron

Aprons are an essential piece in any line cook’s wardrobe that helps protect against spills and splatters from hot liquids and food. Three main types of aprons are commonly used in kitchen environments:

Bib apron: These aprons provide maximum coverage by covering the entirety of the upper half of the body. They are typically waist-level with ties extending up and around the neck. Bib aprons can be made of canvas, cotton, poly blends, or other materials.

Waist apron: Similar to bib aprons, these types of aprons sit at the waist and protect the area beneath without adding extra weight and making movements impossible. Waist aprons offer less protection but allow unnecessary freedom of movement.

Bistro apron: Shorter than other types of aprons, bistro aprons only cover a small portion of the body from the waist down to the knees. This type of apron is typically shorter and has pockets.

When choosing which type of apron to use, it’s important to consider how much protection is needed and whether mobility or pockets are necessary.

Non-slip Shoes and Other Footwear for Line Cooks

Standing for extended periods can cause discomfort or medical issues such as varicose veins and joint pain. Still, when combined with wet kitchen floors, it can also become hazardous if the line cook’s shoes lack adequate grip. When selecting shoes for line cooking, it is essential to choose non-slip options that have adequate cushioning and arch support.

Brands like Crocs, Sketchers, Timberland offer slip-resistant footwear fit for kitchen environments. It’s essential to purchase shoes made from materials such as rubber or other non-slip materials while avoiding sandals, boots, and high heels that compromise safety and cause discomfort.

Headgear for Line Cooks

Headgear is essential in all kitchens to prevent loose hair from dropping into food; however, its style depends on workplace requirements and personal preference. While most establishments mandate headgear, not all require a specific type. Some common types include baseball caps, hairnets which are recommended if your hair tends towards shedding frequently(shinier materials provide better contrast thus making any hair visible), or Skullcaps that fit snugly on the head (typically cotton) they are popular across many kitchens because they don’t slip off the head easily.

It’s important to select headgear based on personal needs as well as specific workplace regulations.

Additional Tips for Proper Line Cook Attire

Maintaining good personal hygiene is essential when working in the kitchen. Line cooks must bathe regularly, change into fresh clothing regularly, and wear deodorant to prevent unpleasant odors in the kitchen. When wearing clothes in the kitchen such as a chef’s coat or apron, it is important to keep them clean and organized, free from any loose items like pens or other pocket items that may come off and into the food.

Finally, select clothing that is comfortable but still looks and feels professional. Cooking efficiently is easier with tailored clothes that are neither too constrictive nor baggy.


Selecting appropriate attire for line cooking is critical for both appearance and safety. A line cook must select attire for mobility and ease of movement while adhering to regulatory requirements. We hope that the comprehensive guide provided here helps provide a better understanding of what line cooks should wear in different environments. If there are any comments or questions regarding this article, please feel free to contact us.

What is the typical attire for line cooks?

Line cooks usually wear a chef coat, unless specified by the restaurant, along with comfortable black pants and slip-resistant shoes. Some restaurants may require specific uniforms or colors to match their branding.

Can line cooks wear jewelry or accessories?

It is recommended that line cooks avoid wearing any jewelry or accessories while working as it can present a safety hazard. Long hair should be tied back and away from the face to avoid any hygiene issues.

What kind of protection do line cooks wear in the kitchen?

Line cooks are required to wear protective items such as oven mitts, aprons, and gloves while handling hot equipment or food. They may also wear a hat or hairnet to keep their hair contained and out of food.

How important is proper attire for line cooks?

Proper attire for line cooks is essential not only for safety reasons but also for maintaining a professional appearance in the kitchen. It promotes hygiene, cleanliness, and helps adhere to health codes. Additionally, it reflects a sense of pride and respect for the culinary industry.

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