Kitchen & Gadgets

A Mile In Their Clogs: Chefs' Favorite Footwear (Part Three)

February 13 2012 - 9:59 AM

Dansko ClogYou may think you have it bad when you come home from a day at the office and sink into your recliner, rubbing your tired feet. Chefs, who can spend 12-14 hours a day standing in a hot, cramped kitchen, understand foot fatigue better than anyone, and therefore swear unshakable loyalty to their preferred brand of footwear. In this series, we've checked in with six chefs so far, who recommend shoes from Birkenstocks to Mario Batali crocs. This week, we have favorites from a few more chefs, including a surprising pick form a former figure skater.

That's right, Chicago boasts not only a singing-dancing chef at Frontera, but a former figure skater also helms the kitchen at HB Home Bistro. (Does anyone else see a TV talent competition here?) Joncarl Lachman, the affable chef at HB, blames these former athletics for his weak ankles, which present a special challenge in the kitchen. Because clogs don't provide enough support, Lachman sticks to Timberland work boots. Though they're difficult to take on and off, he says they're the only shoes that will do.

Other chefs, perhaps with stronger ankles, swear by Dansko clogs. Sandra Holl, owner and baker at Lincoln Park's Floriole, says the trick is to have two pairs of the clogs, and to alternate between them throughout the day. Over at City Provisions in Ravenswood, owner Cleetus Friedman is also clog-clad, but has slightly different advice for keeping comfortable: "Lots of bending, jumping jacks, and kicking people helps."

For a cross between sneakers and work boots, Big Jones' chef Paul Fehribach reaches for his Dr. Scholl's work shoes. No one would mistake these lace-ups for a fashion statement, but they have necessary features like oil-resistant outsoles and ultra-cushioning insoles. Especially useful in a kitchen, the bottom of the shoe is shaped like a grid, which helps flush liquid away from the soles. For more chef-tested, kitchen-approved footwear, check back here next week.

–Kate Bernot