When someone feels good about themselves, it shines through — in their body language, their energy and their attitude. While it’s not the only X-factor for high self-esteem, looking good and feeling stylish certainly gives most of us a positivity boost and the brains behind Chef Works — an international hospitality industry apparel company — are onto it. “People have realized if their staff feel good about what they’re wearing, they provide a better level of service,” says Jeff Berman, president of Chef Works Canada. “If you have to wear an apron and pants that don’t look good, you don’t feel valued, but if you’re wearing something that fits you well, you feel proud about it. The level of service you provide to customers is that much better. There’s a kick in your step,” he says.
Founded in South Africa in the 1960s, family-owned Chef Works has become a truly global brand, expanding to 70 countries across six continents over the past six decades. In September 2016, Chef Works Canada moved into a new head office in Richmond Hill, Ont. — a 25,500-sq.-ft. facility housing corporate offices, embroidery and production lines and a distribution centre, now offering the same range in Canada as in the U.S. Its staff increased from seven people to a team of 32 over the past 18 months. “Our head office has grown to include marketing, operations, logistics and customer support departments, plus we’ve expanded our sales effort nationally. In May 2017, we launched the biggest range in the history of the company, with 250 new products, most of them for the front-of-house,” Berman says. This includes shirts ($45.95 to $49.95), hats ($11.95 to $26.95), aprons ($29.99 to $79.95), pants ($56.95 to $63.95), coats ($49.95 to $109.95) and accessories ($19.95 to $54.99). Chef Works fulfills non-embroidery orders within 24 to 36 hours and embroidered garments within three to five days, excluding shipping.
“We do way more than just [outfit] the kitchen,” Berman says. “The recent growth of Chef Works Canada has been fuelled by an unswerving commitment to our customers and our global approach to providing fashion-forward and durable culinary apparel within a customized uniform program, tailored for the individual needs of our customers. We also provide ongoing marketing and sales support within an automated operational environment, designed to exceed both delivery and cost-management expectations compared to the industry norm.” Boasting the largest range of hospitality apparel, with more than 9,000 SKUs, Chef Works caters to both the front- and back-of-house. Beyond making products that look good, the company is committed to manufacturing high-quality apparel by ethical means, including a promise of no child labour and independent third-party audits to ensure standards are maintained, with top-notch customer-service standards making sure the needs of each client are met, no matter how big or small the account might be. “Being socially responsible is part of our brand and part of why we are so successful. Our customers hold us responsible and they know what we stand for. That sets us apart,” says Berman. “Within the company, each office [globally] is like a family. Chef Works is generous and supportive. Our integrity is what makes people want to become partners with us globally.”
With clients ranging from mom-and-pop shops to national chains, the company prides itself on building unique relationships with each customer in order to understand their needs. “We’re not just trying to sell pants and aprons,” Berman says, “We aim to understand a client’s pain points — do they need online ordering, help with compliance or managing budgets? We listen to what they want to achieve and bring solutions to the table.” Those solutions often come in the form of innovative apparel Chef Works has developed to serve the needs of the people who wear it, including lines created to fit the female form; ergonomic cross-back aprons to evenly distribute pressure; and chef coats designed with cool-vent technology that are durable, breathable and look good, to boot. Taking cues from the High Street (a reference to mainstream fashion) the company followed popular trends with the introduction of jogger-style chef pants, modern slim-fit attire and women’s chef pants that are fashionable enough to pair with heels outside of the kitchen.
“We’re constantly looking at ways to enhance the experience for our customers. No matter what size our customer might be, we’ll always work together so that they are happy with what they’ve bought and know they can trust us,” Berman says.
Written by Lindsay Forsey