Professional chefs and food preparation workers need to wear special footwear for occupational safety reasons and overall comfort. Commercial kitchens are sometimes bustling compelling chefs to work for 12 or more hours. As such, wearing shoes that provide ample support for such long hours of work is critical. Clogs have become an all-time choice work shoe in the industry owing to their backless construction that makes it easy to slip on and off.
Initially, clogs were made from wood, but modern versions are constructed from different materials, including leather and plastic. Clogs are specially designed to provide the much-needed traction and comfort on kitchen floors.
What’s more, the shoes prevent your feet from developing blisters and other foot problems. After an extensive review of customer feedback about their experiences with chef shoes from different brands, we prepared this list of the ten best chef shoes.
View The Best Chef Shoes Below
1. Skechers Cessnock Food Service Shoe
Skechers is known to produce the best shoes for crews working in the food industry, nursing, and industrial work range. The shoes have a design that holds up to different hazards, including those in a kitchen environment. The manufacturer has produced a variety of categories suitable for chefs including, the Relaxed Fit Work Range, Oswald, Toston, Squad for Women, and Synergy Range. For this discussion, we reviewed the Cessnock Relaxed Fit Work Range model, designed for both men and women.
This particular design is suitable for men and provides a relaxed and comfortable fit, thanks to its slip-resistant insoles. Additionally, it has a lightweight build that keeps your feet comfortable even during long working hours. It also has a breathable mesh that allows your feet to breathe as the moisture and sweat wicks from the shoes.
+ Replaceable insole
+ Time-saving bungee lacing
Why We Like It – The Bungee lacing on these chef shoes were particularly handy given the busy kitchen environment that chefs operate in. This lacing design means you never need to tie the shoes. Instead, you use a spring-loaded clip to set a comfortable tightness, and you can leave it in that position all the time. As such, you just need to slip your foot into the shoe without tying up the shoelaces.
2. Merrell Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe
Merrell has one of the best chef shoes for crews looking for slip-on models with Ortholite insoles. Merrell Encore Gust slip-on shoes are made of full-grain leather, so you are sure it will last a lifetime. Its Ortholite anatomical foot bed provides adequate support and cushioning for all-day comfort. Ortholite foam is designed to conform to the user’s feet and rebound to its original shape.
The foam has impressions partly constructed from bio-oil to ensure they are long-lasting and adapt to the user’s feet. It’s this construction that makes Merrel Encore Slip-On absorb shock better than any other shoe on the list. Additionally, the manufacturer integrates a proprietary air cushion technology in the heel that has shock absorption properties.
This feature, coupled with its EVA foot frame, not only enhances comfort but provides stability when walking on a slippery kitchen floor. Also, the chef shoe provides some pretty vast toe area, which comes in handy for people with wide feet.
+ Vast toe area
+ Slip-on construction
+ Insole adapts to the user’s feet
Why We Like It – Many users loved the fact that they could quickly slip in and out of the shoes. The manufacturer uses a sticky rubber outsole that ensures the shoes remain firmly fitted on the user’s feet throughout the day without compromising on comfort.
3. Mosida Non-Slip Nursing Chef Shoes
This chef shoe provides great value for your money thanks to its numerous features. It not only has non-slip properties but is also oil-proof, waterproof, and prevents punctures. The outsole is made of non-slip rubber, and a distinct anti-slip pattern is integrated to enhance traction for safer walking on oily surfaces.
The upper has an EVA construction, which makes it easy to clean the shoe. EVA is an elastomeric polymer that produces rubber-like materials to enhance softness and flexibility. The material is also resistant to UV radiation, has excellent clarity, does not crack, and is waterproof. It’s this material that gives these chef shoes all the highlighted features.
The heel measures 1.2 inches, which is a pretty comfortable height for chefs with back problems or sustained an injury recently. The clogs are also great for daily wear for both and women.
+ Easy to clean
+ Can be bleached
+ Ideal for men and women
Why We Like It – Apart from the breathable and highly elastic insole, the shoe has three venting holes to enhance breathability.
4. Dr. Martens Boyle Slip-On Loafer
This slip-on loafer is the best buy if looking for a multi-purpose pair of chef shoes. You never need to carry an extra pair of shoes if you’re going for an outing, meeting, or other events after work. The closed-heel design allows you to rock these loafers in the kitchen and in other such activities.
The shoe features Dr. Martens’ distinct construction that was popular in the 1460s. First, you will note the air-padded soles that provide adequate cushion for your feet. It’s this feature that makes the loafer not only suitable for chefs but also for people with foot problems and injuries.
The insoles are made of a polyurethane foam that further enhances this shoe’s shock-absorbing properties. Also, the upper is constructed of deconstructed heavyweight leather that has a subtle grained finish to provide a super smooth and shiny appearance.
+ Extremely soft sole
+ Slip-on design
+ Can be paired with a range of attires
Why We Like It – We loved the yellow single stitch technique used on the welt and rubber sole. It gives the loafer a hip and elegant look and makes it easy to blend the loafer with any outfit, and sets it apart from the usual kitchen environment.
5. Birkenstock Boston Clogs
The Boston clog is the best buy if you’re looking for year-round chef shoes. This Birkenstock model has a reputation for introducing sophisticated chef shoes with a distinct design. To begin with, it has a thick nubuck leather upper that has an open-selvage finish to protect feet protected from spills of hot liquids.
The footbed is made from latex and cork that contour to the user’s feet during use. As such, you are confident of maintaining a natural walking style even after working for long hours in the kitchen. The toe bar is a little raised to encourage a natural grip.
This way, the natural blood flow around your feet and legs is maintained. Additionally, the footbed contours to the shape of your feet to maintain the correct posture, and ensure a uniform distribution of weight. Also, you don’t have to worry about the shoes getting wet as they are equipped with jute fiber that wicks away moisture and enhances the shoe’s strength.
+ Sole equipped to absorb shock
+ The footbed provides maximum support
+ Footbed lined with soft suede
Why We Like It – We loved the wide toe room on these chef shoes. Customers explained that it promoted balance, enhanced comfort, and ensured feet were aligned correctly from the toe to the heel.
6. SensFoot Slip Resistant Chef Clogs for Kitchen
If you’re looking for a pair of chef shoes that fit both men and women, SensFoot Chef Clogs are the best buy. They are equipped with rubber soles to provide ample support and comfort for chefs who work for extended periods.
The outsoles feature a patented pattern that creates enough traction when walking on wet or greasy floors. They also have a lightweight design, thanks to the EVA and Non-making rubber used. It explains why a size 9 weighs less than 0.6 lbs. It is this lightweight design that reduces fatigue on the legs.
What’s more, the shoes have gone through professional slip tests and have met and exceeded the ASTM (the American Society for Testing and Materials) testing standards.
+ Removable straps
+ Breathable soles
+ Removable insoles
+ Lightweight build
+ Best pair of chef clogs for men and women
Why We Like It – The detachable straps allow you to customize the shoes to industry standards. In this case, the shoes come with orange lettering on the straps. Chefs working in restaurants that require workers to wear black shoes only need to replace the straps with black ones.
7. Birkenstock Professional Boston Slip Resistant Work Shoe
This Birkenstock model is the best shoe for chefs who don’t want to skimp on comfort. Its outsole has a rubber Super Grip tread that has been optimized to provide a firm grip on wet, greasy, and oily surfaces. What’s more, it has been tested for slip resistance according to the European EN ISO 20347:2010 standards and is rated in the top category on SRC.
Its leather upper is thick enough to protect your feet from getting burnt by hot spilling liquids. It’s also pretty easy to clean as you only need to wipe it off using a damp cloth. Since the shoe is a construction of cork and leather, which are natural materials, it may take some time to get used to the shoe.
However, once worn for a few days, they begin molding into the shape of your feet. As such, the weight of the body presses down on the cork insole to enhance comfort. Its midsole is made of EVA, which also cushions your feet against impact. This chef shoe also has adjustable buckles to allow users to achieve a personalized fit.
+ Made from high-quality materials
+ Are stylish
+ Footbed contours to the user’s feet
+ Footbed lined with suede to provide a soft landing
Why We Like It – This shoe’s footbed showcases Birkenstock’s proprietary design that distributes the user’s body weight over the entire foot to enhance support and reduce wear and tear.
8. Stico Men’s Slip Resistant Chef Clogs
The brand produces one of the best anti-slip shoes thanks to proprietary ceramic technology. The technology involves a combination of ceramic powder and a unique rubber as well as a patented tread design to provide maximum slip-resistance.
The powder and the rubber compounds grip on to the microscopic roughness while the grid-pattern directs the liquid out from underneath the outsole to keep your feet firm even on slippery surfaces. This nano-ceramic technology has been certified by the FDA, SATRA, and the European CE. STICO shoes are also oil-resistant and tolerate friction caused by everyday wear and tear.
+ Oil and slip-resistant
+ Built to tolerate high friction surfaces
Why We Like It – Unlike other chef shoes we have reviewed, we found STICO’s chef shoes lasted longer. Customers who have purchased a pair of these shoes attested to using them for nearly five years. Even after such prolonged use, the shoes were still comfortable and didn’t appear worn out.
9. Keen Utility PTC Slip-on
While KEEN is a relatively new brand in the footwear industry, it has established trust among users for producing high-quality and durable products. Its Utility PTC slip-on chef shoes are an excellent example. The first notable feature is its oil and slip-resistant outsole.
This is because it has been constructed using KEEN.GRIP patented outsole that is lab-tested to ensure it meets non-slip standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Also, the outsole of the shoes features KEEN’s patented Toe protection technology that keeps your feet safe when working in the kitchen.
Additionally, the leather material used to construct the outsole is both oil and stain-resistant, making it easy to clean up at the end of the day. Note that the construction is a blend of natural leather and synthetic material that keeps the shoes looking its best for an extended period.
+ Extremely comfortable
+ Safe slip-on design
+ The upper is water-resistant
+ Meets non-slip testing standards set by American Society for Testing and Materials
Why We Like It – We loved its unique interior, which provided an adequate cushion for all-day use in a busy kitchen. This is because KEEN.CUSH uses a patented technology that blends of memory foam insole with cork, and recycled polyurethane to create a contoured footbed. Additionally, the midsole is constructed from a compressed EVA layer that enhances cushioning.
10. DDTX Slip-on Mens Work Shoes
They are the best chef shoes for chefs looking for simple slip-on shoes. The design makes it relatively easy to wear as you don’t have to make a task out of it. The upper side is made from Nano PU leather material known for its durability, strength, and water resistance.
PU leather comprises of animal hide that has been split into thinner sheets and dipped into polyurethane resin to make it sturdier. PU leather is also notably more affordable than genuine top-grain animal-hide leather. The result is a reasonably-priced chef clog that maintains the look and feel of real leather.
DDTX Slip-on chef shoes also have open cell foam insoles that create ample resistance to compression. The open-cell foam material is also durable and does not break down or lose cushioning properties after prolonged use.
+ Fitted with mesh lining to enhance breathability
+ Slip-on design
+ Oil and slip-resistant outsole
+ EVA outsole
+ Best for slim feet
Why We Like It – The rubber sole provided excellent traction that kept users safe from common kitchen hazards like tripping. Additionally, the cushioning used on the midsole was pretty lightweight, providing ample comfort even during long hours.
Chef Shoes Buyer’s Guide
What to look for when buying chef shoes
A regular shift for any chef involves dealing with a wet and slippery floor, hot ovens, freezing rooms, and sharp kitchen objects. As such, chefs can’t afford to skimp when buying chef shoes. They should withstand the rigors of a commercial kitchen, be water-resistant, and have multiple layers for maximum protection. Here are essential features to look at when buying chef shoes:
Check the upper side of the shoes to ensure it is spill-proof. Most shoes have a synthetic or leather upper, which is waterproof and heat resistant. Work shoes made of genuine leather are the best because they are easy to clean, soft, and comfortable.
However, it needs a break-in period and extra care compared to rubber and other synthetic materials. Additionally, since leather is not breathable as fabric or canvas uppers, your feet feel hot throughout the day, which can be very uncomfortable.
The midsole is the area between the heel and ball of the foot, and it is the thickest. The area needs to be cushioned to reduce the impact between your feet and the kitchen floor, absorb shock, protect your feet from getting poked by sharp objects, and keep your feet comfortable.
Thus, you need to check the thickness of the material and firmness of the foam used to construct the midsole. Most midsoles are made from EVA material, but others have proprietary foam materials that enhance comfort among benefits.
A well-cushioned midsole prevents achy joints and knees, allowing you to stay on your feet for an extended period. While achy feet don’t pose an immediate threat, it can progress to serious health issues in the long run. Chefs who experience foot fatigue, for example, should look for shoes with highly cushioned midsoles as they absorb shock by distributing it across the surface of the foot.
The biggest hazard when working in a kitchen is a wet floor, and wearing non-slip kitchen shoes protects you from falls. As such, it is essential to check the shoes for this feature and ASTM compliance. Outsoles are tested against ASTM standards by measuring the extent of friction on different surfaces.
The best slip resistant chef shoes should meet and exceed ASTM C1028 or withstand 0.5 SCOF (Static Coefficient of Friction). Since the outsole is prone to wear, buy a shoe with a replaceable outsole. Proper care is also essential to ensure the outsole lasts long and retains traction. An occasional wash removes any debris and gunk clogging the treads on the outsole.
Ortholite vs. Memory Foam insole
The insole is also called the footbed. It supports high foot arches and provides additional support to people with flat feet. The term footbed is used to refer to the insole and the midsole together, especially when the parts are not separated.
Both materials provide adequate cushioning to the user’s feet, but the memory foam insole absorbs heat, causing your feet to heat up and sweat. As such, it is likely to create a pretty uncomfortable work environment for chefs as they are always busy. Additionally, such warm and moist conditions lead to bacteria buildup.
Memory foam insoles also lose elasticity after a short period of use. Ortholite insoles, on the other hand, have an open-cell structure that permits air and moisture to pass through it. The result is a breathable insole surface that does not cause heat buildup keeping your feet comfortable.
What’s more, Ortholite insoles are made of a machine washable material, letting chefs wash away sweat buildup that causes odor. Users also love the soft fabric atop the foam material that reduces friction for enhanced comfort. Of course, the decision to purchase chef shoes equipped with an Ortholite or memory foam footbed is a matter of personal preference and one’s budget. If shopping on a budget, consider purchasing footwear with a replaceable insole so you can later buy the pricier and more comfortable Ortholite footbed.
It is also called the heel cuff, and it surrounds the ankle at the top of the shoe to keep it in place. Some collars extend farther up and are equipped with an Achilles notch to support tendons. The best shoe has a padded collar that is thicker than the rest of the upper. This is because the padded collar provides more comfort and cushions your feet from impact.
Chefs who love shoes with a lacing system should make sure they have many eyelets for better adjustment. Eyelets extending further into the heel collar provide more flexibility and allow a secure lacing than other lacing technique.
Also, bungee lacing is an excellent option for chefs who don’t want to keep on tying the shoelaces. The snap-on cord makes it easy to tie the laces into position.
Finding the best chef shoes is not just about comfort, pronation or supination, the shoe should provide adequate arch support on the hard and slippery kitchen floors. Chefs with flat feet are especially in need of kitchen shoes with arch support to avoid developing back, hip, knee, or feet pain. Some people develop plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition as a result of an inflamed tissue running across the bottom of the feet.
It is the essential factor chefs look at when buying kitchen shoes. Check the midsole as it determines how comfortable the shoe is. Midsoles equipped with gel cushioning, for example, are more comfortable than those fitted with regular foam cushioning.
Also, check the heel construction. Does it have closed-back or an open-heel design? The closed-back design is more comfortable as it keeps your feet enclosed within the shoe. However, ensure it has a replaceable insole as it allows you to change it for custom orthotics.
Shoes for the kitchen are designed in two popular styles: laces and slip-on. Slip-on shoes are the most popular because they are easy to wear and take off. The absence of laces also reduces the risk of the shoes slipping off and falling. Another advantage of buying slip-on chef shoes is that they enhance food safety.
This is because the chef does not need to tie laces, which can cause his hands to get dirty. If the shoes don’t have a good fit, the lacing gets undone and loose frequently, which can be problematic when working in a busy commercial kitchen. Slip-on shoes eliminate such problems.
Shoes with lacing, on the other hand, are a viable option for chefs who don’t mind tying laces now and then. However, ensure they don’t compromise on other features like breathability, water-resistance, and a strong leather upper, among other features.
Kitchen shoes should have a good fit to enhance comfort and avoid injuries. Snug-fitting work shoes cause the feet to swell after standing for an extremely long time. Loose-fitting chef shoes, on the other hand, cause feet to rub against the shoe, leading to the development of blisters and rashes.
Thus, it is vital to fit the shoe before buying to determine the perfect size. The most comfortable fit should leave half an inch of space between the tip of the shoe and the toes, and the rear should not allow heel-slippage. People with wide legs should opt for chef shoes with wide toe boxes. Other tips to help you get a good fit include:
- Take both feet measurements: Feet sizes change over time hence the need to get your feet measured when trying the shoes.
- Look for a shoe that provides ample space for the thumbnail: Work shoes should allow you to wiggle your feet. As such, the width should be snug but provide some space for your toes to move without rubbing. Also, the laces should have a snug fit without being too tight.
- Try the shoes at the end of the day: Feet swell throughout the day and become extremely large at the end of the day. You may end up buying a small fit if you try them on in the middle of the day.
- Try both shoes: Since one foot may be larger than the other, consider trying the right and left too to find a pair that fits both feet
- If you use insoles or orthotics: carry them because they affect your shoe’s fit.
- Test different brands: Brands have different foot models. As such, you may need a larger size from one brand and a smaller size from another. That’s why an in-store fit session is essential.
Kitchen floors get slippery all the time; thus, chefs should ensure the shoes have adequate traction. While the non-slip feature makes sure the shoe has traction, be sure to check if the shoe has been tested against ASTM standards. Also, changing the outsole regularly, e.g., after a few months or when the outsole wears out, ensures the shoe retains traction. Dirt buildup also reduces traction hence the need to brush the outsole occasionally.
Shoes with wide toe boxes are ideal as they enhance comfort and provide ample space for your feet to expand. Other benefits of wide toe boxes include:
Reduce the risk of injury: When paired with a zero-drop sole, a wide toe box minimizes the risk of developing injuries like rolling of the ankles and long-term pain problems
Ability to avoid hammertoes and bunions: They develop when the toes are forced close together for prolonged periods
Maintain a strong arch and reduce overpronation: A wide toe box allows the big toe to spread out and gain adequate strength for regular use. As a result, the arch of the foot becomes stronger and prevents the ankle from collapsing. This posture alleviates overpronation, lower leg tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis
Improve agility and balance: Wide toe boxes provide ample space for toes to spread out to enhance movement and control that comes as a result of additional traction
Improve circulation: A wide toe box enables your toes to spread to their full length to increase blood flow
1. Why do chefs wear clogs?
Working in the food industry means you have to traverse many miles by the end of a shift. The job is particularly grueling on chefs who need to monitor every section of a restaurant. As such, they need a pair of shoes that provide much-needed comfort while standing up throughout the shifts. A good pair of shoes also protect chefs from different hazards in a kitchen environment. They include:
No matter how strict you are on keeping a floor clean and dry, something is bound to spill; melted ice cubes, water, oil, food, the list is endless. A study by Emory University revealed that people working in the food industry experience 60% of occupational injuries.
As such, wearing a pair of non-slip chef shoes is non-negotiable. It explains why many hotels have instituted a policy that compels employees to wear non-slip shoes. Such policies also protect businesses in the event of a lawsuit. Additionally, the OHS Regulations require employees to wear approved footwear at work. It explains the appropriate footwear for commercial food service establishments should have a non-slip sole, a closed back, and a closed-toe design.
Chefs working with hot elements throughout the day are constantly prone to burns. Wearing closed-toe kitchen shoes protects their feet in case hot oil, water, or food spills. Chefs are also in danger of bumping into hot equipment when handling hot food.
It’s easy to lose grip and drop heavy containers or boxes on your feet. And for BOH workers, grease and hot oil splashes are other hazards. It’s essential to wear shoes that can withstand such an impact to avoid going for a hospital trip for a broken toe or burn.
Chefs work on their feet most hours of the day. A study by a weight loss company found that restaurant workers make an average of 23,000 steps a day. It’s equivalent to taking ten or more miles a day, which causes tremendous strain on the feet muscles and tendons.
Many chefs develop ankle twists, sprains, and fallen arches as a result. Wearing the wrong kitchen shoes also creates additional strain on your feet. The right shoe should support a natural curve of the feet to improve comfort during long shifts and prevent injury.
2. What are chef shoes?
They are shoes specially designed for chefs to provide support and keep their feet protected from spills, burns, falls, and other hazards in a kitchen environment.
3. What are the best shoes for standing all day?
We found the Merrell Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe pretty comfortable for all-day use thanks to the Ortholite anatomical footbed used in its construction. Ortholite insoles are lined with a thin material that minimizes friction between the foot and the foam which, if rubbed against each other, cause discomfort.
However, if you an avid fan of Skechers shoes, their Flex Advantage shoe is the best buy. Its upper features a smooth leather and mesh fabric that create a sporty and casual look. Additionally, Skechers’ Flex Advantage shoe has a padded collar and tongue that provide adequate ankle support. Its memory foam insole keeps your feet comfortable all day.
4. When is the Best Time to Replace Chef Shoes?
Replace the shoe as soon as it develops signs of wear. For example, if the leather upper peels or develops a hole, you may need to purchase a new shoe as it can’t be repaired or replaced. However, if the insole is the only part wearing out, consider replacing it if it is the only worn out part.
5. How Do You Choose Chef Shoes that Support Your Walking Style?
The work shoes should support your rolling movements when walking or running. There are two types of rolling movements: supination and pronation. Pronation is the inward movement of your feet when it strikes the ground and propels your feet forward. Excessive movement causes the arch to flatten, and muscles, and ligaments to stretch underfoot.
Supination, on the other hand, is the outward movement of the feet. When walking or running, supination occurs to some extent as the heel gets lifted from the ground, and the toes propel the body forward. The movement should, however, be done in moderation to avoid straining the muscles and tendons that stabilize the ankle.
You can determine your pronation by asking a footwear specialist to observe your gait when walking or running. Alternatively, examine the wear pattern on your shoes. There are three ways to do this:
· If your foot is rolling inwards, then you have a basic pronation and should consider buying chef shoes that have a lightweight structure
· If your feet are over-pronating (feet rolls in too much), look for stability chef shoes with structured support. Motion-control shoes also come in handy
· People whose feet roll outwards excessively experience supination and should consider buying neutral shoes. This is because the pattern of wear concentrates along the edge of the shoe
When picking chef shoes, check if they support your natural movement. The ideal shoes should keep your feet in a neutral position without appearing too tight or loose. It would help if you bought shoes with a size half an inch higher to allow your feet to flex with ease.
Another way to ensure the shoes provides ample support is to bend it. If it bends easily at the center, it might not provide adequate lateral arch support; the vice versa is true. Also, twist the shoe; if there’s some resistance, you are confident it will provide sufficient support and stability.
Additionally, if the shoes have a removable inner sole and check its build. If they are flat and flimsy, they might not offer arch support. Consider replacing it with a suitable footbed like the Ortholite insole.
6. How Do You Clean Chef Shoes?
Kitchen shoes that have synthetic and leather uppers are the easiest to clean. A quick wipe using a damp cloth should do the trick. However, shoes made from canvas need cleaning products. Be sure to air-dry the shoes after washing to keep them smelling fresh. Also, avoid leaving the shoes in a dryer as intense heat melts the glue holding the shoe together, leading to damage.
With this guide, you are confident about buying the best chef shoes that keep your feet comfortable, well-supported, and breathable all day. Skechers is a renowned brand for producing the best shoes for chefs, nurses, and other workers that need long-wearing shoes. That’s why a Skechers shoe, like the Cessnock Food Service shoe, tops our list. Its bungee lacing, padded collar, lightweight build, and slip resistance are some features that make it stand out.
However, chefs who want to splurge a little more on shoes that have pricey features like an Ortholite insole should consider Merrell Encore Gust Slip-On Shoe. The insole provides more comfort for all-day use, thanks to the open-cell foam used to construct it.
Chefs shopping on a budget should consider buying Mosida’s Non-Slip Nursing Chef Shoes. It has all the essential qualities (like slip and oil resistance) chefs look for when buying shoes and is reasonably priced compared to the first two options. Also, make sure the shoe does not skimp of the features highlighted in the guide as they define what makes a comfortable chef shoe.