Hot liquids, endless hours on your feet, oil spills, greasy floors - the kitchen is not an easy workplace. Good shoes not only help you work better but can prevent injuries and will mean the world to you at the end of a long shift when the adrenalin runs off and sore feet and joints make themselves known.
Choosing the right chef shoes isn’t an easy task. Everyone’s foot is built differently so a shoe that some chefs swear by might be another chef’s worst nightmare. Some trial and error will be involved. Prepare yourself.
Keep in mind that the key considerations in looking for chef shoes should be slip-resistant outsoles, spill-proof uppers, comfortable insoles, fit, size and easy to clean materials.
We've put together our list of the best chef shoes on the market. Start your shoe search with these shoes that come with high recommendations from chefs.
The best chef shoes, from clogs to boots
Chefs claim that these last for years, which easily justifies the higher price for these shoes, running at around $130-150 a pair. The most popular model is the Dansko Professional, and ticks all the boxes when it comes to what chefs look for in a work shoe: grease and oil resistant outsole, easy to clean leather upper, a special design rubber outsole with a rocker bottom that is shock absorbing, cushioned and breathable insole, all made to survive the rough kitchen environment. Check out also the XP 2.0 model which gives you a removable insole on top of the other features.
When speaking of chef shoes Birkenstocks constantly come up on top next to Danskos. Popular models are the Profi or Boston, that feature solid non-slip, oil and grease resistant outsoles to save you from any slip and fall accidents. The Boston clog comes with the brand’s signature cork footbed and leather upper whilst the Profi-Birki is made entirely of polyurethane and has a removable, washable insole. Both are highly rated for durability, safety, and comfort.
Mozo clogs are a lower-price option compared to Birkenstock and Dansko and come with high recommendations from chefs with larger feet. As with the Dansko clogs and Birkenstock Boston, the leather upper provides water resistance, is easy to clean, and its removable gel insoles are great for a customised fit as well as and cushioning. Needless to say, its non-slip soles are built for the greasy, wet conditions of the kitchen.
Every now and then there is a chef on Reddit declaring their undying love for Doc Martens shoes. Doc Martens does a slip-resistant line for tough work environments, especially those who spend many hours on their feet. Get the classic look of the British punk brand with additional features like ultra-durable outsoles, breathable, memory foam-cushioned lining, and spill-resistant, easy to clean leather uppers.
Vans came up with the special Made for the Makers line with specific features such as spill resistant uppers, slip resistant soles, and comfortable moisture absorbing linings, all features that chefs look for in a good work shoe in the kitchen. While not made specifically for the kitchen environment, they make for a stylish choice for the odd day every now and then.
Yes, you read that right. But we’re not talking about the footwear piece that looks like a colourful laminate of Swiss cheese wrapped atop a foam sole. Crocs has a special line called Crocs at Work with slip-resistant soles and other features certified to give professionals the support they need in the kitchen.
Sketchers have water and stain resistance that will come in handy in the kitchen, and their comfortable memory-foam insole is an antidote to the foot aches that threaten after a stint in the kitchen. Their upper provides less protection against things falling on your feet than other models in this list.
8. New Balance 626v2
If sneaker is more your style, you might go in for this model from New Balance. The company’s firm roots in athletics are reflected in the aesthetics and ready-to-go capabilities, but the black, all leather-upper, industrial protection, and rubber sole make this shoe suited to the rigours of restaurant work.