Facial hair in the professional kitchen

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by sparkie, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. sparkie

    sparkie

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    So I've been following the recent threads on chef jackets and aprons and where we all think they should and shouldn't go. It got me to thinking, how do you all feel about facial hair, and/ or long hair in the kitchen? Me, I keep my head shaved at about 1/4" because I like it, it keeps my head way cooler than when I used to have long hair( about to my shoulder blades). As far as my crew, I don't care how long it is as long as it's clean and secured properly. So many bosses tried to make me cut my hair over the years. I always told them to make the women do the same and I'll follow.

    The facial hair is pretty surprising to me though, I do have some myself, but I keep it neat and short. I've been seeing a lot of cooks with full on grizzly Adams/ ZZ Top beards. On TV I saw a sous chef from some super high end restaurant working with a do-rag wrapped around his foot long+ dread locks and super goatee. I have not taken several jobs because I wasn't willing to shave off my goatee, beard, or whatever was going on with my face.

    It seems to me that these days, we are seeing more and more chefs with less than conservative grooming habits. Is this because we don't take the job seriously enough, or are we moving into a time where appearances aren't as important?
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2012
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  2. squirrelrj

    squirrelrj Banned

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    I keep my hair short, pretty much a 0.  That's only because i'm losing it from wearing a hat all the time.

    I won't complain about facial hair unless it's outrageous, I live in a cold environment, so I grow a beard in the winter, but I won't accept a stupid looking face.

    This industry needs more respect, so don't show up to work looking like a short order cook, and we won't have any issues.
     
  3. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Short order cooks are part of this industry and deserve as much respect as anyone else. Disparaging comments do nothing to elevate the respect level of this industry.
     
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  4. sparkie

    sparkie

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    I agree with you one hundred percent. This is pretty hard to quantify objectively though. I'd hate to be in a situation where I have to tell one guy that he needs to shave, but the other one is ok because I think it looks good.

    We really do need to represent our industry better. I understand that when you are dealing with kids and minimum wage, you can only expect so much. But from the people in the top spots.. some of them need to set a better example. I do believe that the way you groom is indicative of the amount of respect you have for yourself and the job.
     
  5. deepsouthnyc

    deepsouthnyc

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    You shouldn't judge people on appearance. 

    If you don't respect someone based on the appearance of their beard, then it isn't the industry that needs to change. 

    I've worked in places where you couldn't have a 5 o'clock shadow. They were so strict, that during a double I was reprimanded for growing a beard during service. At my current job, we are very relaxed about grooming. Its pretty much fair game and that doesn't change the quality of the food we serve on any given night. 
     
  6. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Really? Why not? Doesn't someone's appearance reflect how they present themselves to others? If a person is clean, neat, and well groomed, they will get a lot farther than one who is dirty, sloppy, and unkempt.
    Respect is earned, it is not a birthright! One's appearance is not respected, it may be accepted or tolerated or, in exceptional cases, applauded but it is never, IMHO, respected. And then, in some cases, one's appearance may be intolerable or abominable  and demonstrates total disrespect for one's coworkers.

    Facial hair may be a health hazard, that is why mustache and beard nets exist.

    Facial hair may be a violation of the grooming code for a particular establishment. If that is the case, live with it or work elsewhere. Even in a right to work jurisdiction, no one has the right to demand employment.

    Regardless as to appearance, one should expect to show up for work, clean, neat, and well groomed.

    Now, in my establishment, you will abide by my standards or you are free to work elsewhere.
     
  7. 808jono202

    808jono202

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    I have a very well kept "beard", more of a glorified 5o'clock shadow, and keep my hair back off my shoulders. Not breaking any rules.. . .hell, I 'll even throw my ugly mug(I was about 50lb heavier then too) out there so you can see for yourself(taken after out annual No Shave November benefit, I am a recent cancer survivor, so the long hair is going for donation to locks of love)


    Here is before:


    RAWR, lol

    Not to mention, how many famous Chefs/TV Chefs have tatts, beards, long hair now-a-day, is it really THAT big of an issue? I mean, If ZZ Top was back there, I would hope that Billy would NET THAT THING UP, but seriously, the human race has survived pretty well without baby faced culinarians making up the staff as an entirety. 

    People can have a beard, and long hair, AND BE put together, NET, CLEAN, AND WELL GROOMED. I fail to see what long hair, and a beard have to do with the talent/ability of a chef, bricklayer, author, or shoe shiner. What does it matter, if the end result reflects the poise, passion, balance, and skill of the person hired to do, what you hired them to do? Doesn't respect in the Food Service industry come from the results of the person, and what they are able to accomplish, whether it is to dial in food costs/elevate a menu or restaurant to the next level/head a dept that is failing, or falling behind. . . isn't that what a resumé and proven track record are for? Would you not hire them because of a beard, or long hair?

    What about waitstaff that don't keep their hair pulled back, or in a pony tail? That is something I see FAR more often than anyone in a kitchen being un-kept, and it drives me bonkers. It seems that the more places I have dined out in the city, the kitchen crew, though salty, and surly looking in some places, are at least well groomed, well kept, and have it together. . . then, here comes Little miss so and so, with hair flying all over to the pass to pick up her plates for table X, walking through the dinning room, hair all akimbo, and nothing is said? WTF, mate?
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  8. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I am by nature, a lazy bugger when it comes to grooming, I postpone my haircuts  to a maximum of  8 weeks if and when I can get away with it.

    The only reason I don't wear long hair is because I hate washing it, hate hair dryers, have never used one and probably never will, and hate the smell long hair picks up in a kitchen. Oh, and I hate cleaning out bathtub and sink drains.  I can go weeks on end without washing my kinda short hair and still remain minty-fresh*. 

    Basically I'm too lazy to invest the time long hair needs.

    I do however, interact a lot with guests and have to keep myself somewhat neat and tidy.....

    Basically, what I have found out over the past thirty years or so regarding facial hair is this:

    It takes far less effort to shave once a day than it is to keep facial hair trimmed and neat

    So you know of that routine called the "Three "S's",  Shite, shower, and shave?

    Every morning I sit on the throne, grab my electric shaver, and within a few minutes am clean shaven enough to pass muster for the whole day. Don't need a mirror, no mucking about with razors, cream, cuts, or rashes. Decent enough to look halfway decent for the whole day.  

    Hope this helps

    * well, kinda/sorta. Uhhh, well, no, that's b.s. I guess.  Maybe...
     
  9. adamburgerdavis

    adamburgerdavis

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    I agree with Jon. I see no reason why a man cannot have a beard and be well groomed. I believe it's possible to also work sanitary if your beard is short enough or you wear the guard. So if you look proffesional and work sanitary there really aren't any reasons against one. Obviously there are people out there that don't work cleanly and look like a mess but lets hope they don't ruin it for the rest of us
     
  10. 808jono202

    808jono202

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    I have had some new hires that Look the part, talk the part, clean as a whistle, showed up in pressed pants and whites, but when it came to their working day interview, were some of the sloppiest dudes I had ever seen. . .and it went beyond the whole "oh I just don't know the layout of the kitchen, or where to put stuff", I mean, they were just PLAIN OLE MESSY! Regardless of the new environment, you can ALWAYS clean as you go, and have a rubbish bin near by. . . it's not rocket science, but you have to know something.

    Some of the potential new hires, that stick out to me the most, and have since gone on to do great things, were the more "outcast" looking, bearded/sideburned/goateed, pierced, inked, dudes(and dudettes) that were humble, soft spoken, but were SOLID from the second they got their station set up, and worked as though they had been there for a decade.

    You just can't judge a book by it's cover, and for me, regardless of what you look like, if you autograph your work with QUALITY, and your passion shows on every plate you put out ...I would rather have THAT, than some clean shaven guy with an impressive resumé, who can't even get me 10lb of mirepoix put together.
     
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  11. sparkie

    sparkie

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    Now Pete makes a few good points. We do not have the right to work in any specific establishment. You can conform to their standards or work somewhere else. I've been on both sides, I have chose to keep my appearance and and find another job, I have also altered it to conform. I actually shaved my head for the first time because where I worked they didn't make you wear a hat if your hair was short enough! I wish I would have just cut it the first time someone asked, I like this so much more than the long hair.  But the reality is, right or wrong, if you want to be taken seriously(in any line of work), you ought to look the part. 

    Also, we have to judge people by their looks. This is hard wired into how our brains work. This plays a factor into how he hire people, where we sit on the bus, and how we decide to buy some random person a drink and make a new friend.  Of course this goes much deeper than beard or, no, ink, piercings, etc. Its eye contact, how you carry yourself, smile, etc... Sometimes, these judgments are good things.

    For me, personally, I expect everyone to show up clean and groomed. There is a line between groomed and unkempt, and it doesn't have much to do with weather you are bearded or not. I don't like face tats and piercings, or anything else outrageous. And don't show up looking(smelling) like you just got off a week long bender. At my current job, clients come through the kitchen somewhat regularly so the expectations have to be tighter than that. If it where an open kitchen... then it's completely up to whatever I think won't scare away guests. There are enough talented people out there that look all different ways.
    Haha thanx for that FoodP! This is the truth. Its like you picked it right out of my brain!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  12. chefedb

    chefedb

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    If they agree to wear a beard net, then I agree to let them have beard. If not  no they can't. I don't judge but  Thats the sop in many places in Palm Beach.
     
  13. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Pokin' the bear here...

    You guys crack me up!

    The amt of words in the average post are wayyy more than some of you key in a whole day, lol!

    me?

    Keep my hair pretty short, wear custom surgical head coverings in various stylish patterns, (caps look funny on girly girls and really don't care for hair in the buttercream) and shave the legs and pits prn.

    Sometimes I will miss a few on the legs, so on those days wear jeans ;-)

    ffg

    * OOP! OT again! Ok, about my facial hair, have my brows waxed every couple weeks, so no problems there!
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2012
  14. planethoff

    planethoff

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    I have always been angry about the stigma against beards and goatees in the kitchen and have turned down a few offers because I didn't want to shave my goatee. (I will wear a beard net if asked and keep my head shaved). What makes me laugh however, is to see clean shaven, short hair or pulled back, hat or hair net people on the line with crazy gorilla arm and neck hair that is about 5 times the length of ANY hair I have anywhere on my body be perfectly acceptable and not covered.
     
  15. jjgdr

    jjgdr

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    i agree wholehaertedly. I manage a restaurant that caters to a affluent clientele. I require all my servers to have no facial hair and my kitchen staff can have some hair if it is tight, neat and clean. My customers want to be served by servers or cooks that look clean and groomed well. 

    Some of the younger cooks do not like my rule  and they are free to work somewhere else. My customers perception of the cleanliness of my work staff is equally as important to the quality of food and service. Its a package deal and is what makes a good place great. I only wish the staff can be thoughful enough to understand that initial perception makes you or breaks you.

    This is why I am very strict on this matter.
     
  16. jjgdr

    jjgdr

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    it is a big deal! Just imagine going to a restaurant and ordering your dinner and getting a strand of hair in your food. Yes, it can happen but t is more forgivable if the customer looks around and everyone has there hair pulled back and the kitchen staff is wearing hats and clean shaven. Now that is an accident! But if they see cooks with long hair and beards I guarantee they will never come back.
     
  17. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    problem i have with all this is the hair one finds in thier food is almost always a head-hair  not a quarter inch long beard or mustache hair, and hair from the head is far more likely

    to fall out anyway. Way i see it...ownership/management can logic-it all they want and 

    i still believe this is mostly just a subjective preference thing.

    Far easier to say its unsanitary etc than ...."I dont LIKE it."
     
  18. kjwatt

    kjwatt

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    Not true.  Just because longer hairs are easier to find does not mean that smaller hairs are not making their way onto plates and restaurants can and should do everything they can to minimize that.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  19. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Well that's true, and I didnt mean to imply that shorter facial hair never finds its way into food,

    just that the argument against short facial hair DUE to showing up in food is more an

    excuse for disallowing facial hair while allowing short cropped head hair, than an actual

    safety reason.....WHEN...coupled with allowance of head hair with no net, or NOT

    allowing facial hair WITH net.

    If by "doing everything they can to minimize it", you mean prohibit facial hair then

    it seems logical to me to require shaved heads as well because.....as I said,

    head hair is more likely to fall into food.

    Now, if you're implying that statement is not true, then we must agreee to disagree,

    as I've sported a mustache/beard  throughout my life, as well as head hair-- and scalp hair

    just FALLS OUT more due to stress, touching head, moving around a lot etc.
     
  20. 808jono202

    808jono202

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    By the way, it's officially "No Shave NOVEMBER"!!!!!!

    Glad to know I have my partners/Bosses that also partake in the event, so not too much to worry about. 

    Bring on Grizzly Adams status!