Best Kitchen Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Quality

From professional chefs to home cooks, we all deserve an exceptional pair of shoes to get us through our time in the kitchen. Ask anyone who has had the misfortune of wearing the wrong shoes (and no, fancy shoes are not for the kitchen) for an extended period of time while moving about the kitchen, and they might exclaim, “It is sheer torture!” Furthermore, getting liquids on an inadequate material can, also, lead to a hard time wiping them off when done at the stove.

Last Updated: June 11, 2018
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By Himmatpreet Kaur:

The Recent update reflects the best of 2018’s best kitchen shoes of all types, shapes, sizes, colors, with new information as to how to choose the best kitchen shoes and our criteria for evaluation. Also, included are some of the most frequently asked questions about the best kitchen shoes.

A chef or cook’s job, whether it includes cooking at their home or during long shifts, does not include time to sit and relax. More often than not, it can involve standing for a minimum of eight hours at a stretch; therefore, choosing the right pair of kitchen shoes can make all the difference; and even reflect in the quality dished out, literally. That’s right! No one can deliver their best in a pair of uncomfortable and unsuitable shoes. In fact, you won’t even be able to last more than an hour or two on your feet, if you have the wrong shoes on.

Standing on your feet for a long period can, also, lead to many physical ailments, such as swelling in the legs and back, pain, and fatigue. It can, also, promote circulatory system problems, and heighten the risk of developing varicose veins. If your job or duty includes standing on your feet for a prolonged period, then it is twice as important to buy the right pair of shoes.

Featured Recommendations

Crocs Classic Clog
  • Crocs Classic Clog
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy-to-Clean
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Dansko Professional Mule
  • Dansko Professional Mule
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • PU Outsole
  • 1.25-inch Heel Height
  • Price: See Here
Crocs Specialist Clog
  • Crocs Specialist Clog
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Slip resistant
  • Durable sole
  • Price: See Here

Wearing improper footwear in the kitchen can lead to accidental injuries, due to slips and falls. You can, also, get burn injuries if they spill something hot and the footwear is not equipped to protect the foot from such an occurrence.

Not every shoe advertised as a good and practical choice for the kitchen, however, can deliver all of the support, comfort, or protection you might need to receive optimal benefits. Therefore, to make your selection easier, we have compiled a list of the 10 Best Kitchen Shoes after reviewing several pairs of footwear available in the market. Each of the names listed in the review is exceptional shoes that will see you sail like a breeze through the long and demanding kitchen hours. Your feet and body will thank you when you step into these blissful pairs.

 

10 Best Kitchen Shoes

 

1. Crocs Classic Clog

There’s not much to say about the Crocs Classic that you haven’t already heard, most likely. This model is, hands down, the king of all comfortable and breathable sandals/clogs; not only in terms of popularity but, also, functionality. The Crocs Classic is ideal for steamy environments like the kitchen; and the dark colors (black, preferably) may meet work uniform etiquette. Aside from being utterly comfortable, the classic clog counts with enough perforations to ventilate your feet properly.
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Water and Heat-Friendly
It’s hard to find a silhouette more versatile than the classic clog, as it endures pretty much anything you put it up to. The ventilation channels, also, work as a drainage system in environments exposed to liquids, and these very same channels allow air to flow consistently within the build that keep feet fresh anywhere, anytime. Furthermore, the non-marking outsoles are exactly what you should be looking for as a kitchen employee or chef.

Kitchen Suitability
Although not, originally, designed to be in the kitchen, the Crocs Classic Clog has the necessary features for it. The non-slipping outsole keeps you away from slipping hazards in the work environment, while the friendly materials easily handle oil and sauce stains. They are, also, easy to clean and quickly dry. As if that wasn’t enough, the odor-resistant inner build prevents the accumulation of bacteria.

Cost and Value
Some customers would argue that the cost of the Crocs Original is something they’re not willing to pay for with such a simple approach. But, in reality, Crocs count with an amount of underlooked features that will surprise you; not to mention, they’re some of the most-durable pieces out there. We believe this footwear is worth the investment, in terms of quality, comfort, and durability.
Pros
  • Perforations
  • Easy-to-Clean; Quick-dry
  • Non-slipping, Non-marking Outsole
  • Lightweight and Flexible
  • 360-degree Comfort
Cons
  • Size runs small

2. Dansko Professional Mule

The Dansko Professional Mule is one of the smartest-looking clogs for kitchen wear. The woven clog design of the shoe will add a stylish touch to your ensemble. They are a good change from the plain and regular pairs one, usually, finds for kitchen wear. The wide heel strike of these shoes will, also, provide you with good stability all day long.
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Performance/Use
You can wear these shoes for long hours at a time without facing any problems that will hamper your movements in the kitchen. Moreover, the shoes won’t weigh you down or make you feel tired on your feet.

Comfort/Cushioning
These mules have a roomy and reinforced toe box for greater protection. The padded instep collar adds to the comfort factor and the polyurethane outsole with rocker bottom enables greater shock absorption.

Cost and Value
The professional clog is priced on the higher side. Considering its stylish look, coupled with all-day support and unbeatable comfort, we can understand why. In fact, these shoes can be worn for various other activities and outings.
Pros
  • 2-inch Heel Height
  • PU Outsole
  • Leather Upper
  • 75-inch Platform Height
  • Memory Foam Footbed
Cons
  • Break-in period
  • Size runs small/narrow

3. Crocs Specialist Clog

Famous for comfort, these Crocs are ready for the kitchen. With a closed heel to help meet work environment demands and an adjustable support strap, these Crocs are ready for those who need comfort and functionality. The 'Roomy Fit' design caters to those with larger volume feet; as well as, those with wide feet. The Croslite™ technology helps the shoe conform to your foot; making each fit a personal one.
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'Roomy Fit' Design
For those who have wide and/or high-volume feet, these Crocs are an ideal choice. The 'Roomy Fit' design allows you spacious glory to reach that moment of luxurious comfort.

Croslite™ Conform Technology
Made of foam resin, Croslite™ technology conforms to each individual's foot on a personal and unique level; thereby, creating a custom fit. This helps to promote a comfortable experience, as you work your way through the kitchen's long hours.

Cost and Value
Cost-efficient, these Crocs are well priced for the task-at-hand. Having a 1.5-inch shaft height, 0.25-inch platform height, and Croslite™ conforming technology, these shoes not only live up to their 'Roomy Fit' design but, also, have the ability to customize the fit, as it were. As such, these best kitchen shoes are worth every penny.
Pros
  • 1.5-inch Shaft Height
  • 0.25-inch Platform Height
  • 'Roomy Fit' Design
  • Closed Heel; Support Strap
  • Croslite™ Conform Technology
Cons
  • Design-specific; size runs big
  • Minimal color variety

4. Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grip

4. Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grip
These shoes are available in both men’s and women’s versions. This professional moc features the Merrell air cushion underfoot, leather uppers, and non-marking outsoles. The breathable, mesh lining is a blessing; especially when you have to spend long hours in your shoes in a warm environment. These slip-on shoes offer comfort, sturdiness, and slip-resistance in one stylish package.
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Performance/Use
The Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grip is ideal for use on the hard and slippery floors of kitchens. They give incredible support to the feet in the challenging wet and greasy environments of kitchens.

Comfort/Cushioning
The shoes include air cushioning in the heel that adds stability and absorbs shock. A pair of Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grip, also, provides good arch support; making the shoe comfortable for long wear. In a few cases, an extra insert may be needed; dependent on individual needs.

Cost and Value
These shoes are budget-friendly; and as such, the cost is justified considering the shoes’ multipurpose uses and diverse features. In the end, you will be shelling out less money, solely, for a top-quality product.
Pros
  • Flexible, Goring Inserts
  • Slip-on
  • Slip-resistant, SureGrip Outsole
  • Organic Odor Control
  • 5-inch Heel Height
Cons
  • May need an extra insert

5. Skechers Flex Mcallen

5. Skechers Flex Mcallen
These shoes are great for walking around slippery kitchen shoes, even near the dish-wash areas. The slip-ons have a cool and sporty look to them. They are a good combination of comfort and style. It won’t be a wonder if they end up becoming your go-to shoes for the kitchen, especially because you will be light and fast on your feet in these.
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Performance/Use
The Skechers Flex Advantage Mcallen slip-on features a memory foam insole that will give you the feel of walking on a soft carpet. The good part is that there are no slip issues with these shoes.

Comfort/Cushioning
Slipping into a pair of these shoes will provide you with all-around comfort throughout the day. The slip-on offer a comfortable and roomy fit with its Relaxed Fit® design and lightweight shock-absorbing midsole.

Cost and Value
The Skechers Flex Advantage Mcallen slip-on falls in the midrange price category. The supportive, comfy, and flexible shoe offers a good value for the money spent on it.
Pros
  • Slip-resistant
  • EH Safe
  • Stain and Water-resistant Upper
  • FlexSole Midsole
  • 1.25-inch Heel Height
Cons
  • Not waterproof

6. SensFoot Chef Clog

6. SensFoot Chef Clog
This clog mule is stylistic in design and perfect for chefs. Ready to bring you comfort and security, in the form of an adjustable back strap and a massaging footbed, these chef shoes are designed to both withstand the kitchen and bring you a pain-free workday. Furthermore, they have a rubber outsole, are non-slip, have side vents for airflow, and come equipped with a breathable insole. In other words, these shoes are ready for the chef in you.
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Rubber Outsole
The rubber outsole is slip-resistant and is designed to handle kitchen-hazardous surfaces, such as spills. In addition, the outsole is specific in dispersing liquids; so, water/oily surfaces become less of an ordeal. This, in turn, provides safety and security while you work.

Breathability
These shoes have side vents to help promote airflow while you work. Furthermore, the insoles are breathable, as well. Working in harmonious and tandem unison, this shoe aids in promoting better overall foot health in a chef's symphony of delight.

Cost and Value
Budget-friendly, this pair of best kitchen shoes is loaded with the right amount of technologies, in order to help ensure comfort, stability, security, and a good fit. Furthermore, with the price set this low, these shoes would make a great investment choice for those desiring to add to their footwear collection.
Pros
  • Slip-resistant, Rubber Outsole
  • Breathable Insole
  • Side-vent Airflow
  • Back Strap
  • Massaging Footbed
Cons
  • Size runs big

7. Skechers Felton

7. Skechers Felton
For those who enjoy the traditional lace-up style in working shoes, the Skechers Felton have a lace-up vamp. In addition, the padded tongue and collar help to promote all-day comfort, especially in conjunction with the shock-absorbent midsole. An OSHA-compliant nitrile outsole allows you to enjoy the benefits of a non-slipping environment. Moreover, these shoes are ready for the kitchen.
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OSHA-compliant Nitrile Outsole
This outsole is slip-resistant and provides decent traction on varying kitchen floor surfaces. Furthermore, combined with a 1.25-inch heel height and 1-inch platform height, there is a nice separation between foot and surface; thus, you are able to enjoy your day in comfort.

Lace-up Vamp
At times, there is no substitute for the power of a secure fit via laces. The lace-up vamp allows you to better secure your feet; thus, you are able to concentrate on the hustle and bustle of the kitchen; instead of the pains associated with loosely-fitted shoes.

Cost and Value
From upper-low- to- lower-mid of the cost range, these shoes are priced within a decent range, as it is. With an OSHA-compliant nitrile outsole, lace-up vamp, 1-inch platform height, and 1.25-inch heel height, however, these shoes move into the realm of being a great buy.
Pros
  • 1.25-inch Heel Height
  • 1-inch Platform Height
  • Lace-up Vamp
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
  • OSHA-compliant Nitrile Outsole
Cons
  • Minimal color variety
  • Size runs narrow

8. Merrell Encore Gust

8. Merrell Encore Gust
Gust with a wind-like performance; carving through your kitchen work environment in perfection with these best kitchen shoes from Merrell. They boast of a 2-inch heel height, Ortholite footbed, compression-molded EVA footframe, M-Select GRIP outsole, and are made with high-quality, full-grain leather uppers. This is a shoe ready for the day, or night. Most of all, this shoe is ready to bring you stability, comfort, and style, as you work.
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Breathable, Mesh Lining
The mesh lining allows your feet to breathe during those warmer moments, usually, found in kitchen environments. Moreover, this lining wicks away moisture which aids in helping to keep your feet dry.

Full-grain Leather Upper
The leather upper adds a bit of both professionalism and longevity to these shoes. After the break-in period, these shoes should feel good throughout the workday; as well as, bring you the toughness you need for a kitchen-ready shoe.

Cost and Value
These shoes are at the upper end of cost association. With all of the high-quality materials and the design of the shoe overall, however, these shoes are worth adding to your workwear collection. In other words, Merrell does not disappoint.
Pros
  • 2-inch Heel Height
  • M-Select GRIP Outsole
  • Full-grain Leather Upper
  • Ortholite Footbed
  • Compression-molded EVA Footframe
Cons
  • Size runs big
  • Snug toe box

9. Skechers Rockland Systemic

9. Skechers Rockland Systemic
These lace-up shoes are a good pick if you have to be on your feet for the major part of the day. The Skechers Rockland Systemic shoe is, also, good for colder months when a person needs more warmth and snugness from their kitchen footwear. One can, also, wear these trendy shoes for other purposes, and not just restrict the shoes to the kitchen.
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Performance/Use
The shoe with its handsome overlays, classic lace-up styling, and smooth leather upper can go beyond being a nine-to-five classic. The rubber outsole is slip-resistant and provides a good grip on slippery kitchen floors.

Comfort/Cushioning
The contoured and cushioned insole provides ample support and comfort to the wearer. The shoe lining is made of soft fabric. It has a shock-absorbing midsole and cleated outsole edge detailing.

Cost and Value
These midrange shoes are a steal for the comfort and durability that they offer. The smart appearance that the Skechers Rockland Systemic lends to any attire is an added bonus.
Pros
  • Removable Insole
  • Slip-resistant Outsole
  • Leather Upper
  • Electrical-hazard Safe
  • Lace-up
Cons
  • Break-in period

10. Skechers Soft Stride Softie

10. Skechers Soft Stride Softie
The Skechers Soft Stride-Softie is a versatile work shoe which is ideal for kitchen wear. The combination of comfortable fit and cool style makes it popular. You can walk through water, soap, and oil without worrying about slipping. The perforated accents on the sides of the shoe provide good airflow and will enable your feet to breathe.
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Performance/Use
These shoes will ensure that you get it right the very, first time that you wear them. They will help you look as good as you feel, even after hours of working on your feet.

Comfort/Cushion
The soft and flexible leather of these shoes provides stability and comfort. This footwear is, also, a good option for colder days and winter months when your feet can do with warmth. Moreover, they provide great cushioning with the removable, contoured PU insole.

Cost and Value
The icing on the cake is that these shoes are not priced too steeply. In fact, they cost only a little more than high-quality replacement insoles, which cannot compare to buying a new shoe for nearly the same price.
Pros
  • Leather Upper
  • Contoured PU Insole
  • OSHA-compliant
  • 5-inch Heel Height
  • Perforated Accents
Cons
  • Little-to-no arch support

So, there you go. Choosing any of the shoes from this list will have your feet thanking you. If you are still confused about making the right choice among these 10 pairs; then, the following points can help you:

  • You should understand what quality of a kitchen shoe is of utmost importance to you.
  • Are you looking for protection, support, slip-resistance, comfort, durability, style, or everything? Take your pick, accordingly.

If you are looking for protection over everything else, then opt for shoes with a composite toe or steel toe. They will save your feet if you happen to drop cooking knives, heavy pans, or hot food, accidentally. Shoes that have deep grooves, strong grip, and slip resistance are ideal to prevent slipping and falling; especially if the kitchen has slippery tiles. Padded insoles and thick platform soles are great for adding a spring to your step, while stain-resistant uppers will save the shoe from unsightly stains.

Whichever pair you pick, do ensure that appearance and style are given the last preference, as that alone won’t smoothly sail you through the day.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Kitchen Shoes

Slip Prevention

The kitchen floor can be a perilous territory if you do not wear the right shoes. More often than not, the floor of the kitchen has smooth tiles where a person is more prone to skids, slips, and falls. Water and oil spills; as well as, food peels can, also, make their way onto the floor, which can further lead to someone losing their balance and falling.

Slips and falls contribute to the maximum number of accidental injuries in restaurants. Falling on the hard and concrete ground can not only lead to obvious injuries but, also, burn injuries, which can take place if the person falling is carrying a pan with hot food or drinks, and etc.

Moreover, a colleague working in the same room may get injured, as well; due to the flying debris caused by a fall. Matters can be even worse if the resulting debris, accidentally, touches customers. Therefore, it is imperative to buy chef shoes that are anti-skid, provide traction, have a good grip, and fit perfectly.

Whether you’re a chef, a waiter, or you assume any role that involves activity inside of the kitchen, features that prevent slippage are paramount. One of the most important aspects of slippage prevention is the resistance that the outsole offers against oily substances and grease, which may affect the stability and smoothness of the surface on which you’re working. This can be prevented in a variety of ways:

  • For instance, the outsole pattern has a big impact on the slippage preventing features. Although it’s one of the most underestimated elements in a shoe, the outsole pattern, actually, improves or decreases the grip of the shoe, depending on the force and direction in which you’re moving. Certain, slightly, lugged outsole patterns, for example, help prevent forceful forward or backward motions that, normally, cause slippage.
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  • It’s, also, very important that the outsole materials prevent any liquids, oil, or greases from adhering to itself. There are multiple reasons for this with the main one being the simple fact that you don’t want any slippery substances sticking around with you on your outsole. Any residual disposals that adhere to the outsole’s surface may be a contributing factor to an accident later on.
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  • Additionally, it’s considered good etiquette to wear non-marking/non-skidding outsoles when involving yourself with the kitchen. When we’re talking about a shift related to the kitchen, traditional outsole materials may help expand the grease and oil that may, normally, be found on the floor of restaurant kitchens. By picking up grease on your outsoles, you’re making the environment more dangerous for you, the customers, and co-workers.

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Comfort

A chef’s job includes long hours of standing and, therefore, the shoes they wear have to be extremely comfortable in every possible way.  During busy rush hours, you might need to move quickly and be on your feet for a prolonged duration of time. A comfortable shoe will not only reduce your fatigue but it will, also, impact your job performance significantly.

The first thing to look for in a good chef’s shoe, as far as comfort is concerned, is that it should not hurt or pinch your foot. Not only will such shoes cause foot injuries but, also, can you imagine being this uncomfortable for a good part of the day?

An apt pair of kitchen shoes should have a great light padding which will prevent the foot from hurting while standing for long hours. You must, also, choose a shoe that has thick platforms, comfort-padded insoles, and a bit of heel to protect the feet from the hard floor of the kitchen and, also, to add spring to your step.

There’s not much to think about here if you’ll be standing all day long; that is, you want to be as comfortable as you possibly can; regardless, of your shift. However, sometimes it can be difficult for users to determine what the features that really make a shoe comfortable are. Before any purchase, it’s important that you analyze and take into consideration the tasks you’ll be performing with the shoes.

As a waiter, for example, you’ll not only be standing a lot but will, also, walk back and forth. Thus, in this case, you should opt for a kitchen shoe that has enough cushioning, flexibility, and walk support to handle the demands. On the other hand, as someone who stands a lot (e.g. a chef), you should seek out as much heel cushioning and support as you can.

Keep in mind, that when we’re talking about jobs or activities that involve a considerable amount of active standing time, comfort is no longer a side factor. Believe it or not, the comfortability of your shoe will have a direct impact on both your performance and mood, as a waiter/chef. If all you can think of while working is how bad you want to take your shoes off, it’s time for new shoes.

Always remember that comfort should never be sacrificed, in order to enhance other features. The best kitchen shoes are those that, while being comfortable, deliver each and every single other quality required to perform optimally.

Support

In order to determine the amount of support in a shoe, you should first understand support, itself. The support is the ‘strength’ with which the shoe sticks together to your foot. If your shoe is loose and not firmly covering the foot, then it lacks support.

A firm and supportive shoe, on the other hand, is one that follows your foot around and mimics each motion perfectly. This means with each step the shoe must not tilt forward, backward, or to the sides; but rather, remain in a position, as neutral as possible. In simpler words, the shoe should not make any motion that the foot is not doing.

A highly-supportive kitchen shoe will prevent the foot from overpronation or underpronation. By holding feet down on a completely natural position, a shoe can have a huge improvement in the way you walk throughout the day. This is directly related to how quick your muscles fatigue and how much your joints suffer.

Purchasing a neutral pair of shoes is not enough for those suffering from such ailments. The shoe must be able to adequately accept an orthotic. This means you will need a shoe which has ample room within the realm of volume. Shoes which have removable insoles are a good place to start.

  • Arch support

While you are choosing the right pair of kitchen shoes for optimal comfort, also, ensure that it provides good arch support. However, not all arch supports are the same and they come in low, medium, and high variations. The right arch support will prevent foot pain, plantar fasciitis, and heel spurs.

You must ensure that the arch in your feet fits comfortably with the arch support provided in the shoe. For example, a person with flat feet should look for kitchen shoes with a minimum height of arch support, as prescribed by a doctor. Typically, if a flat foot person wears a high arch support shoe, they can do damage to the metatarsal bones of their foot. The best chef shoes have a memory foam insole which provides both cushion and arch support, simultaneously.

You should, also, keep in mind that the arch is not the only part of your foot that needs support. While it is true that the arch is one of the most delicate areas of feet, you don’t want to overdo support there and leave out the rest of your foot. As someone who will be standing and walking for a considerable amount of time, you want all-around support.

  • Heel & Ankle Support

The shoe must support the foot in all directions and areas. However, there are key areas of the foot in which support is needed the most. Back heel and ankle support, for example, are critical features for someone who spends a lot of time in the kitchen.

A supported ankle helps your body rotate in a neutral manner, meaning that there’s no additional stress placed on the joints. A common defect in traditional shoes is that the build, in general, is supported correctly except for the ankle. Having different levels of support in the same shoe will lead to an unnatural stance and walking form, as each part of the foot will react differently to the respective level of support it receives.

You know your shoe counts with enough support when it doesn’t slide forward or backward when walking, and it’s not loose around the ankle, either. A kitchen shoe should always move in perfect synchronization with your feet. The best kitchen shoes are those that feel as if they were your own feet.

With that being said, too much ankle support can lead to weaker ankles overall. Finding the balance between the two is the best possible solution.

  • Tongue & Laces

Yet, another highly-underestimated element of the shoe, the tongue and closure are key elements to the support of a shoe. These two elements are meant to work in combination to support the upper foot; the tongue held down against the upper foot to prevent any unnatural motion, and the closure placing additional tension to compress these two together.

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Protection

Working in the kitchen means a person is more susceptible to spilling hot food or drinks; as well as, dropping cooking knives, heavy pans and other objects on the foot. This can cause physical injury and damage to the skin and bones of the feet. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a shoe that can protect against such accidents and mishaps.

At the same time, a pair of chef shoes should be tightly sealed and should have a water-resistant/waterproof upper. Wearing such type of kitchen shoes will ensure that hot and cold liquid, or even bits of food, do not end up trickling inside your shoe. That can not only be uncomfortable but, also, burn your foot if the food or drink is hot. It will, also, mean the added burden of having to clean or replace your shoe in the middle of work.

For the sake of helping you understand the different elements that contribute to the protection that shoe offers, we’ll divide protection into two parts: physical and indirect. Physical protection will involve every aspect of the shoe that prevents your feet from being directly injured by an external physical object, such as a knife falling on your foot.

  • Physical protection

Depending on the role you represent in the kitchen, you may want to opt for more physical protection or more indirect one. For chefs who handle sharp knives, tenderizing hammers, and other variety of potentially hazardous kitchen tools, we recommend more physical protection. This is delivered, mostly, by the upper-build materials and their resistance.

A material-like mesh would offer little-to-no physical protection from a falling pan or knife. On the other hand, a shoe like the New Balance MID627 that has a thin, steel plate protector on the toes will be your salvation in this scenario. If you’re a waiter or someone who assumes any other role in the kitchen, we recommend a healthy balance between physical and indirect protection.

The elements of physical protection we recommend to look for would be a resistant upper build; preferably, leather or a strong synthetic material. It’s important that such material is not affected by oil or other contaminants that may harm the surface of the shoe for good. If possible, a thin layer of steel on the toes is an excellent protection method, as well.

  • Indirect protection

Indirect protection will involve events or scenarios in which the lack of certain protection features can lead to an injury or an accident. For instance, we would refer to a non-slipping outsole as an indirect protection feature. Despite not protecting your feet physically, it plays a huge role in preventing a variety of potential accidents in the kitchen. In fact, some would argue that this kind of protection is much more important than physical one, as the potential damage is, arguably, greater.

Waterproofing would, also, fall into this category. Additionally, features like an odor-resistant insole, also, make it as indirect-protection measures. If you have a kitchen shift, you’ll know that it can, easily, become an excessively sweaty environment for your feet.

This sweat contributes to the development of bacteria, fungi, potential infections, and irritation. These conditions are not to be underestimated, as they can easily become an obstacle to both your optimal-work performance and your health in a manner of just days. All it takes is a couple of shifts on the wrong pair of shoes.

Cleanability

A chef can step on all sorts of food and other squishy-squashy objects that somehow make their way down to a busy kitchen floor. And, of course, there is the added peril of water, oil, other liquid, food ingredients, and the food; itself, spilling down on the shoes. Hence, kitchen shoes should be easy to clean.

For the very reasons mentioned above, a pair of kitchen shoes can get dirtier, far more easily and frequently, compared to daily wear shoes. An important criterion for judging kitchen shoes’ quality is to see how easy they are to clean; particularly, because chef’s shoes have to be cleaned regularly, sometimes every few hours. An important factor here is that whether the shoes can be wiped off easily and hand washed because it can be tedious; not to mention, expensive to get a professional to do the job.

  • Preventing dirt

Always remember that the easiest way to clean a shoe is preventing it from getting dirty in the first place. This, obviously, is easier said than done, but we’re not referring to the care you give the shoes (although that actually has an impact on how cleanable they are), but rather, the qualities offered by the shoe to prevent getting overly dirty.

The first thing you should be looking for is non-absorbing materials. No matter what it is, you don’t want your shoe absorbing anything that falls on it. Materials like mesh and absorbing foams are, extremely, easy to get dirt on, especially in a kitchen. If some oil or sauce falls on your shoe, you want to be able to clean it smoothly without the shoe materials absorbing any of it.

In order to prevent contaminants from getting into the annoying parts of a shoe, we recommend using footwear that is closed; at least, in the upper build. Alternatively, if the footwear is open or has perforations on the upper build, we only recommend it if the shoe can, easily, be washed as a whole, like in the case of Crocs. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself spending a fair amount of time getting the food out of the impossible spots it gets into.

If possible, opt for a shoe that counts with a non-spaced outsole. This means that the outsole doesn’t feature a design in which there’s too much free space where food could, potentially, get into when stepped on. Sliced outsole designs, for example, easily pick up any food that they step on, and they can create an irregular surface on the outsole that makes walking nearly impossible; not to mention, it will look and feel odd. Depending on what you step on and how long it’s been there, it may be easy or troublesome to get rid of the thing you stepped on.

  • Cleaning shoes

That being said, if the shoes get dirty for whatever reason, you’ll want to clean it as effortlessly as possible. Generally, you’ll have access to the washing instructions of shoes before you purchase them, whether it’s in retail stores or online platforms. These instructions should give you a complete idea of what you’ll be dealing with once you have to clean them.

Before machine washing and drying ANY shoe, it’s extremely important that you verify such shoes are compatible with the machines. A non-compatible shoe can get easily ruined, both torn or permanently stained by soap, if inserted in the washing machine.

Also, keep in mind that the washing machine will harm any pair of shoes, even those compatible with it. At the end of the day, the banging of the shoes inside the washing machine has a considerable effect on the external materials and, thus, their usable lifetime. The same goes for the dryer.

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Durability

The stitches of a good chef’s shoe are well made, and the material used is resilient against moisture. Here, it is important to know that though leather is durable, it is susceptible to moisture and, also, heavy. Synthetic kitchen shoes, on the other hand, are lightweight and, also, last longer if the exposure to sunlight is not too high. The materials used in the shoes meant for kitchen use should be extremely durable to endure all the wear and tear.

Think of kitchen shoes as walking shoes that have to endure some extra stuff. You should opt for something that won’t tear apart upon its first abrasion against a surface you didn’t see. The quality of the materials used for the construction of the shoe has an obvious impact on the durability of it. However, the type of material you select is, also, important.

As explained above, high-quality leather can get to be one of the best possible shoe materials out there, in terms of performance, comfort, protection, and durability. However, genuine leather is, simply, not a material suitable for a place like a kitchen, where a variety of contaminants can and will have a permanent effect on the surface of your footwear. This is to say that food preppers and cooks will less likely get away with genuine leather; rather than a food server will. And even with that, a food server always drops a tray every now and then.

Although oil won’t tear a hole in your leather shoe, a permanent stain is a clear obstacle for a shoe, even if it doesn’t physically interfere with the role. Keep in mind that depending on the stain, its color, and its size, certain work uniform etiquettes may, simply, not allow you to continue working with such shoes.

When selecting the best kitchen shoes, you must, also, keep in mind that the kitchen is a fairly humid and steamy environment. This is something you already know, most likely, but what most users don’t know is that these circumstances have an impact on their footwear, as well.

We recommend going for a man-made material that won’t become softened or mushy by the humidity, temperature, and steam of the environment. The physical composition of delicate materials will, easily, be affected by the previously mentioned circumstances that you may encounter in a kitchen.

Breathability

Kitchen work means long hours spent near a stove or source of fire, which can, also, make the environment around you hotter. This can lead to sweat build-up if you are wearing the wrong pair of chef shoes. Kitchen shoes must be made of breathable material.

A good pair of shoes for the kitchen is one that allows air to circulate around the feet and prevents moisture-related ailments like fungal infections, blisters, and open sores that come with trapped sweat. At the same time, you should look out not to over-do the breathability of your kitchen shoes.

There are two ways to achieve a breathable shoe: perforations and breathable materials. When using breathable materials, we do not recommend using a shoe that has any sort of breathing mesh panel on the upper foot or any area that is too exposed. Remember, whenever you drop something, your upper foot will, most likely, be the first thing that gets in the way.

A mesh panel is, extremely, hard to clean once it’s been contaminated, especially by oily substances or thick liquids, like sauce or cream; not to mention, the mesh panel won’t stop a liquid body from entering the shoe and contaminating the interior build, as well. When this happens, you’ll, most likely, need to wash the shoe as a whole; rather than just wiping the portion that was affected.

Don’t get us wrong, though, breathability is something paramount in any kitchen, and your feet will bake if your shoes lack it. Kitchen-oriented shoes will, usually, count with breathing mesh panels or perforations, except they’ll be located in key areas of the shoe. For instance, the lateral panels and back heel are common places for perforations and mesh panels to be located.

Not only are the panels less exposed there but these regions of the foot are, usually, the ones in which the heat accumulates the most commonly, too. You may, also, see combinations of both perforations and breathing panels, which is perfectly fine; as long as, they don’t take away too much structure from the shoe.

When seeking for breathability, you want air to be able to flow within the shoe in and out in multiple directions, in order to optimize ventilation. This doesn’t mean that one mesh panel or one perforation isn’t enough; we’re just saying the more, the better.

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Closure

As far as recommendations go, slip-on shoes are, usually, more suitable for chefs. This is because they do not have laces that can come untied and make a person fall. Moreover, there is a sanitary factor to consider. Every time a person stops to tie a shoe, they have to wash their hands after.

Though such a step may sound simple, in a busy work environment it can soon become tedious. After having said that, normal laced up shoes are, also, okay for kitchen use; as long as, they include all other good qualities that a chef’s shoe must have.

In reality, there are no major differences in performance between the multiple styles of closure a shoe can have. It, ultimately, comes down to a matter of personal preference; some prefer the convenience of slip-on shoes, while others prefer the further support of Velcro straps or laces.

For laced shoes, however, you should seek laces that are only long enough to be tied comfortably – there should be no residual lace hanging off each side of the shoe. Needless to say, this is a massively, contributing factor to a tripping hazard; and the kitchen is, arguably, the worst place to trip and fall.

Either opt for a short-laced shoe or make sure to completely tuck the residual portion of the laces into your shoe once you’re done tying them. As an alternative, you can, also, tuck the laces under the other laces all the way to the bottom, towards your toes. Aside from this, the type of closure should have no big impact on your performance, whatsoever.

Weight

You should look for all the above characteristics in the most flexible and lightest kitchen shoes available because you have to wear the shoes for a major portion of the day; and moreover, you do not want to feel weighed down or heavy on your foot! In addition, do remember, that a chef’s job includes reaching up or down for objects on the shelves. The shoe you wear should be lightweight and malleable enough to allow such movements, easily.

The weight of a shoe is, also, directly related to its mobility. The heavier something is the more difficult is it to move it and to remain in control of it, as it moves. A bulky and heavy shoe not only will require more effort to walk with but it may, also, become an obstacle to your mobility around the kitchen as a chef; not to mention, as a waiter where mobility means everything.

The reason why you should be looking for light shoes is, fairly, simple: they require less effort to move, and there’s not much more to it than that. The lighter it goes, the easier it is to maneuver with it, and the less physical demand is placed on your muscles. It, also, relieves the ankles considerably which, usually, have a pretty active role in dealing with heavy shoes.

You don’t need to go crazy about ensuring every part is lightweight, either. As a chef (or anybody involved in the kitchen, for that matter), you don’t really need the lightest kitchen shoe out there; you just need one that is easy for you to handle.

There’s a lot of competition regarding who designs the lightest shoe; each ounce being a massive advantage for elite athletes that make every millimetric difference count. If the lightest shoe is something you like and can afford, then, go for it, but don’t think too hard about a one-ounce difference.

Do remember that the weight of a shoe is directly proportional to all of its other features. This means that, as the weight decreases, all other physical aspects of the shoe start to slowly, decrease along with the weight. Thinner, synthetic materials will, certainly, weigh less but they’ll, also, represent less protection. Only optimize the weight of a shoe to a point where it’s lightweight but still highly-functional in every other aspect.

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Cushioning

Whether you’re just standing in the kitchen all day or walking around the restaurant, you’ll want your feet to be as cushioned as optimally possible. Cushioning is the base of your performance, as someone who stands or walks a lot. Moreover, you won’t be getting too far without it.

Think of the cushioning as the intermediary between you and the external shoe materials. It’s what allows you to control the outsole, for example, without actually having to step on the hard outsole material. But, there’s much more behind the cushioning of a shoe than just this, of course.

Whenever you take a step, an impact is generated, as your foot hits the ground; regardless, of how softly you land each gait. A simple walking gait, certainly, doesn’t represent any sort of critical impact, but when we’re talking about a full shift of standing on your feet or walking around the kitchen and restaurant, things start to look different.

Every bit of tension generated on each gait, slowly, builds up all around your foot in different areas. After an 8-hour shift, each little impact from the gaits adds up to a considerable amount of stress on your heels, arch, toes, forefoot, ankle, muscles, and even joints. This is why you want to absorb as much of this impact as possible, no matter how mild it is.

Do notice that shock moves upward from the moment of impact. When you take a step, the impact shock works its way up from the ground to your heel, but it doesn’t stop there. Something as simple as the shock, from a walking gait, can go as high as your spine; ultimately, having an impact on your posture and the walking form.

The cushioning of a shoe acts as another layer that shock has to go through upon impact, and unlike our joints and muscles, the cushioning materials are, specifically, made to absorb impact. Don’t get it wrong, though, there will always be a certain portion of the shock that will still make its way into your body. But, if it’s already gone through the midsole and cushioning, it will have lost a considerable portion of its force.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: Where can I buy kitchen shoes?
A: You can buy kitchen shoes online, due to the sheer variety that can be gained easily with just a click. Amazon is a convenient place to buy chef shoes online, as you can select from a wide range.  You could, also, check retail stores beforehand to test the shoes and size in the real.

Q: How do I clean kitchen shoes?
A: Start by rinsing the shoes or clogs, thoroughly, with plain water. This will remove any debris or dirt. Next, wipe away any remaining debris or dirt from the shoe’s surface with the help of a soft cloth. If the shoes need extra cleaning, then mix water with a few drops of mild detergent in a sink or bucket, and put your shoes in to soak. Once the shoes are amply soaked, scrub the dirt away with a scrub brush.

Q: How to clean the inside of the shoes without affecting the slip resistance on the outside?
A: The inside of slip-resistance shoes can be hand washed; as long as, they are not made of suede or real leather. The inside of faux leather shoes can, also, be cleaned with shaving cream. However, do remove any laces before wetting the shoe with water. If your shoes are made of real leather, then buy a leather cleaning kit.

Q: What are kitchen-safe shoes?
A: Anti-skid, slip-resistant shoes that have a protective toe box can be considered as safe kitchen shoes.

Q: What are restaurant-grade shoes?
A: Shoes that meet the requirements of being suitable for a chef and working in a kitchen or restaurant are restaurant-grade shoes. You should, also, check with your workplace to see if they have any specific instructions.

Q: What are the most comfortable kitchen shoes for someone with wide feet?
A: People with wide feet should opt for shoes with a roomier toe box for more comfort.

Q: What are the best shoes for working in the hospital kitchen?
A: A kitchen is a kitchen, anywhere. Therefore, all the qualities mentioned in this article apply to choosing shoes for use in a hospital’s kitchen, too. The only change is that there may be color-scheme differences.

Q: Can I wear nurse’s shoes in a kitchen?
A: There are various shoes that are made to cater to both nurses and chefs, simultaneously. You can choose from one of these.

Q: How are Crocs for the kitchen?
A: Crocs has a wide range of shoes created, specifically, to be worn in the kitchen. However, not all Crocs are meant for chefs. Therefore, choose accordingly.

Q: How do I get rid of the stink from kitchen shoes?
A: Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda or salt inside your shoes each night. This will absorb odors. Shake out/remove the baking soda/salt, thoroughly, from your shoe before wearing it the next day. You can, also, take the stink away by using a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe the inside of your shoes. Placing a crumpled newspaper inside the shoe can, also, absorb moisture and odors.

Q: Can I wear sandals in the kitchen?
A: It is not a very good idea to wear sandals in the kitchen because they leave the toes and foot exposed and vulnerable to accidental injury.

Q: How to remove a grease stain from chef’s shoes?
A: Apply a large amount of the soap over the grease stain. Leave it on for at least 10 minutes to give the oil time to start breaking down. Next, work on the grease stain with a soft scrubber wash. Wash off with water. Repeat the steps as many times as necessary.

Sources

  1. SFM Mutual Insurance, Slip-resistant Shoes Prevent Falls in Kitchen Environments,
  2. Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, Foot Comfort and Safety at Work,
  3. Workplace Health and Safety, Footwear Workplace Hazards,
  4. Health and Safety Executive, Slip-Resistant Footwear,
  5. ShoesForCrews, What should Chefs wear in a kitchen?: The SFC checklist, Oct 28, 2015
  6. Nisbets Guides, Which Chef Shoes are Best?,


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