Professionalism, Uniform, and Hygiene—Undergraduate


As professionals at The Culinary Institute of America, the community is constantly working to enhance the status of the hospitality industry. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni all share a common pride in their work, workplace, and appearance. Everyone in the community has chosen the hospitality industry as a vocation. It is an ancient and respected profession. It takes many years of hard work, training, dedication, and tenacity to become a leader in this industry, but it takes only a few moments to dress, act, and think like a professional. The following standards of conduct are expected of anyone who aspires to be regarded as a professional in the hospitality industry.


  • refrain from abusive and foul language;
  • speak and act without prejudice to race, color, creed, religion, age, gender, disability, ethnicity, veteran status, marital status, or sexual orientation;
  • demonstrate and adhere to ethical business practices, with due respect for customers and colleagues;
  • promote understanding and respect for those alcoholic beverages used in the hospitality industry;
  • refrain from the abuse of drugs and alcohol;
  • treat all equipment and property with respect as if personal property;
  • are polite and courteous to all visitors, peers, and colleagues;
  • work with a positive attitude;
  • dedicate themselves to learning;
  • stay open-minded to the opinions of others;
  • share knowledge with others;
  • act reliably and dependably; and
  • act with honesty and integrity in their interactions with all people.

Personal Hygiene

Every professional in the culinary field should be acutely aware of the necessity to maintain the highest standards of personal hygiene and to present a businesslike appearance at all times. In the early stages of the student's program, they are issued the ServSafe® textbook, which discusses personal hygiene in detail. It is the responsibility of all foodservice professionals to bathe or shower, practice oral hygiene, and use deodorant daily.

Food Safety and Kitchen Sanitation

The CIA has developed comprehensive food safety and sanitation programs. The student is responsible for food safety and food preparation area sanitation as an integral part of their learning experience, and are expected to abide by the guidelines set forth in each food production area. The student is expected to taste food in kitchens using tasting spoons. Eating is allowed only in designated dining areas. Drinking liquid from a closed container and away from the workstation is the only acceptable way to consume liquids in kitchens and classrooms.

Uniform Care

The student is expected to wear the uniform with pride and make sure it is neat and clean at the start of each class. Sitting on the floor, the ground, or the stairs in the uniform is not acceptable. The maintenance of one's appearance is a professional matter; therefore, the student is responsible for laundering and ironing their own uniform. For students living on campus, laundry facilities are available for convenience.

Alterations to the uniform is the student's responsibility. In the event uniforms do not fit properly, return them within five days of receiving them to Central Issuing in Roth Hall (NY), the Education Department (CA), or the Student Services Center (TX). New uniforms will be issued within five days.

Student Professional Attire and Grooming Guidelines


Promoting an environment where students learn to dress professionally is one of the ways the CIA helps its graduates achieve success. As such, the college's students, faculty, and administration share the responsibility to maintain student attire and grooming guidelines. While the CIA presents the guidelines as a set of rules and requirements, the college aspires to create a culture of mutual understanding, respect for the industry, and self-governance and advocacy among the student body.

Accordingly, the CIA supports professional attire and grooming standards that are threefold:

  1. Present a professional, neat, and orderly image to fellow students, guests, visitors, and the public;
  2. Mandate legitimate health and safety compliance requirements which are essential in fostering a safe and hygienic hospitality workplace;
  3. Foster and respect protected groups or classifications under the law. Protected groups and classifications are set forth in the CIA's Nondiscrimination Statement, which can be found on CIA Main Menu and online at

The guidelines provided herein are intended to address the most common considerations around attire and grooming, although there may be instances where certain variations of attire or grooming are not explicitly covered in these guidelines yet may still be considered by the college to be unprofessional or unsafe, and will be addressed as such.

The Student Professional Attire and Grooming Guidelines must be observed in all academic buildings on days and during hours that the campus is open for student and public access, including:

  • Roth Hall, McCann Education Annex, Danny Kaye Theatre, Continuing Education Building, Colavita Center, Admissions Center, Post Road Brew House, and Marriott Pavilion (NY)
  • Greystone Main Building, Williams Center for Flavor Discovery, Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies, and Copia (CA)
  • Teaching kitchens, lecture halls, and dining hall (TX)

While professional attire does not apply in non-academic buildings such as residence halls and student centers, even in these settings, clothing should not be overly messy, revealing or disrespectful.

General Guidelines

  • Facial hair (mustaches, beards, and goatees) is permitted but can be no longer than 1/2 inch in length and must always be neatly trimmed.
    • Sideburns, if worn, shall be neatly trimmed, shall not extend below the middle of the ear, shall not be flared, shall be of even width, and shall end with a clean-shaven horizontal line.
    • Mustaches must be neatly trimmed and must not extend beyond the corner of the lips.
    • Any student with a beard or goatee either cooking, serving, instructing, or observing in a food service area must wear a beard snood.
  • Facial jewelry (including spacers, gauges, etc.) in eyebrows, eyelids, lips, tongue, or septum is not permitted, and covering (with masks, bandages, etc.) jewelry in place, such as piercings, is not acceptable.
  • Sheer or see-through clothing is not permitted.
  • Tops revealing bare shoulders, midriff, cleavage, or undergarments are not permissible.
  • Ripped or torn clothing is not permitted.
  • T-shirts, sweatpants, and hoodies are not permitted
  • Denim clothing (of any color) is not permitted.
  • Hats, other than CIA-issued chef's hats or toques, are not to be worn indoors and should be removed when seated.
  • Hair should be neat and orderly to not interfere with work in the kitchen environment.
  • Hair must be appropriately maintained, groomed, and clean. It may be worn in any style, length, or color that maintains a professional appearance and does not distract from the educational environment.
  • Hair longer than shoulder length or protruding out of a chef's cap should be appropriately confined by a clasp, band, hairnet, or cloth when required to ensure safety and sanitation and to be able to work effectively/efficiently. Appropriate hair confinement must be used in food service or kitchen areas as required by law.
  • Headphones (including earbuds) are not acceptable in kitchen and classroom settings.
  • No excessive makeup. No cologne, aftershave, or detectable sprays and lotions.

The following sections represents professional and safety standards that are required when attending any class or accessing any academic buildings.

The particular type of attire required is dependent on the nature of the student's class, as noted below. As a general rule, kitchen/lab classes require a chef's uniform, hospitality and service management classes require a uniform specific to the restaurant/café/service setting, and all classroom-based courses require either a chef's uniform or business professional attire. The required uniform is, therefore, not a function of a student's academic program or year level, but rather the context in which the class is held.

  • CIA-issued cleaned and pressed white chef's jacket embroidered with the student's name. The sleeves of the chef's jacket may be folded only to the wrist, except in cases where the practicality of the work being done requires otherwise. Chef's jacket should be put on last to ensure it is free from hair or contaminants.
  • White undershirts/t-shirts are required for all under chef's jackets—colors or logos are not permitted.
  • The breast pocket of the chef's jacket may only contain one clip-on pen, one clip-on thermometer, and notecards or a small notebook.
  • CIA-approved clean white neckerchief.
  • CIA-issued clean white hat or chef's hat or toque. (Culinary Science and Brewery—logo cap)
  • CIA-issued cleaned and pressed apron. (Culinary Science—black pinstripe apron)
  • CIA-issued cleaned and pressed chef's checkered pants of proper fit, neither pegged nor cuffed. Pants must be hemmed above the natural heel and below the ankle. Bare ankles should not be visible when seated.
  • Black or white solid color socks that cover the ankle.
  • All students in culinary and baking classes must wear clean, polished, solid black, non-porous, sturdy work shoes that provide support to stand and work for long hours. They must have closed-back, non-slip black soles, and black laces (when applicable).
  • Given that leadership is among the CIA's core values, students can wear a maximum of two (2) approved pins representing their leadership activity, one on each side of the chef coat collar (unless requested to be removed by a production class chef) for the following engagements:
    • Veteran students are permitted to wear a CIA-issued pin indicating their service branch alongside the American flag. This pin must be worn on the left front collar of the uniform.
    • Other organizational leadership positions that can be recognized with a pin include:
      • CIA-issued group leader pin
      • Student Government Association officer pin
      • Eta Sigma Delta member pin
      • Judiciary Board member pin
      • Resident assistant pin
      • Orientation leader pin
      • Campus tour guide pin
  • In Compliance with Health Code Sanitation Policy:
    • Except for medical alert bracelets or a ring that is smooth without crevices, food workers may not wear jewelry on their arms, hands, faces, or ears.
    • Fingernails should be short, trimmed, clean, neat, and free of polish.
    • Hair must be restrained above the collar in a manner that keeps hair from contaminating food or food contact surfaces. This should be done with solid white or black hair restraints, barrettes, scrunchies, or solid headbands/hair wraps. Long ponytails should be restrained in braids or buns. Any hair that cannot be restrained off the collar or coat must be restrained using a hair net or cloth.
  • For sanitation reasons, gloves, aprons, side towels, and chef hats are not worn during certain activities that might lead to contamination (i.e., going to the restroom, taking out the garbage). They should be removed when partaking in non-class activities such as entering or leaving academic buildings or eating meals in student dining rooms.
  • Wallet chains, visible key rings, neck lanyards, and straps are not permitted for safety reasons.
  • No excessive makeup. No cologne, aftershave, or detectable sprays and lotions.
  • Anything not specified in this section may not be worn with the uniform.
  • Uniforms must be complete and worn as designed.

Hospitality and Service Management Uniforms

  • Clean and pressed café chef's jacket (TX).
  • Clean and pressed white dress shirt (NY, CA).
  • White undershirts/t-shirts are required for all—colors or logos are not permitted.
  • Undergarments must not be visible.
  • CIA-issued ties are required (NY, CA).
  • CIA-issued pressed bistro apron (NY, CA).
  • Clean and pressed black pants or skirt (no more than two inches above the knee) with coordinating hosiery. Pants must be hemmed above the natural heel and below the ankle: no jeans, pants with grommets, or leggings. Pants should not be taper fitted but have a flow of hemmed trousers/slacks. Bare ankles should not be visible when seated.
  • If pants have belt loops, a solid black belt is required.
  • Plain flesh-colored or black stockings should be worn with skirts (no prints or seams).
  • Plain black socks (above the ankle) with trousers.
  • Clean, polished, black, non-porous, sturdy work shoes that provide support to stand and work for long hours. They must have closed-back, non-slip, black soles, and black laces (when applicable).
  • Fingernails should be short, trimmed, clean, neat, and free of polish.
  • Hair must be restrained above the collar in a manner that keeps hair from contaminating food or food contact surfaces. This should be done with solid white or black hair restraints, barrettes, scrunchies, or solid headbands/hair wraps. Long ponytails should be restrained.
  • One plain ring and one watch are the only pieces of jewelry permitted while in uniform. No facial/dermal piercings. Spacers and gauges are not permitted. (See above general guidelines section)
  • Two black click pens (no logo) and one waiter's folding Bordeaux corkscrew must be carried in the apron pocket.
  • Wallet chains, visible key rings, neck lanyards, and straps are not permitted for safety reasons.
  • No excessive makeup. No cologne, aftershave, or detectable sprays and lotions.
  • Anything not specified in this section may not be worn with the uniform.
  • Uniforms must be complete and worn as designed.

Student Maître d'Hôtel Guidelines

  • Traditional business suit; jacket, tie, and trousers; dress; or skirt/blouse combination. No jeans, pants with grommets, or leggings. Pants should have a flow of hemmed trousers/slacks and be hemmed to the top of the shoe. Ankles should not be visible.
  • Clean and pressed dress-style shirts appropriate to the suit worn.
  • Flesh-colored or dark hosiery/dark socks that cover the ankle.
  • Clean and polished dress shoes with a non-skid sole. For safety, shoes with excessive heels (more than two inches), are not acceptable. In addition, open-toe shoes are not permitted.
  • Jewelry accessories permitted—one post or stud earring per earlobe, one necklace, one watch, one brooch/pin, one ring, and one bracelet.

Classroom-based Courses

A chef's uniform or hospitality and service uniform can be worn in any classroom setting. Otherwise, the following business professional attire must be worn in addition to adherence to the general guidelines:

  • Traditional business attire is encouraged, such as suits, dresses, blouses, and sports coats. In addition, other forms of clothing that would be considered professional in a business context are acceptable, as noted below.
  • Ironed or pressed pants or skirts may be worn. Skirts no shorter than two inches above the knee. Pants must be hemmed or cuffed. No shorts. Leggings worn under clothing are acceptable.
  • Students are expected to dress neatly in clean and pressed shirts. Turtlenecks and collared polo shirts are acceptable. T-shirts or undershirts worn as outerwear are not permitted.
  • A sweater, tie, or sports jacket may be worn along with a collared shirt or turtleneck.
  • Shoes must be clean, not torn or showing excessive wear, and be appropriate and safe in a professional business context. Flip-flops, bedroom slippers, or shoes with excessive heels (more than two inches) are not acceptable. Open-toe dress shoes may be worn; however, they are not allowed in kitchens at any time due to health and safety codes, so plan accordingly.

Additional Considerations

  • Outerwear (sweaters, coats, hoodies, and sweatshirts) may not be worn in kitchens or bakeshops. Please use the lockers provided to store these items.
  • Students with injuries that require casts, crutches, slings, or other aids for temporary conditions that significantly impair mobility cannot take culinary, baking, or table service courses. Student Financial and Registration Services or the Education Office will make every effort, where possible, to place the student in an appropriate lecture course.
  • Students with hand cuts and lacerations must obtain clearance from the Health Services Office (NY) or a personal physician—with authorization verified by the student affairs manager (CA) or the director of education (TX) to attend kitchen and bakeshop classes.
  • White turtlenecks or white thermal shirts may be worn without a neckerchief for the fish butchery room and meat butchery room. This is the only area that this substitution may be made.
  • White cotton headbands may be worn in hot weather. However, no portion of the headband should be visible under the chef's hat or cap, and the headband must be removed when the chef's hat or cap is removed.


When necessary, due to health and safety reasons, wearing face masks may be a part of required CIA professional and safety attire. The mask must always likewise reflect the professional image of the CIA, as presented through its employees and students to its guests, prospects, and visitors.

Students can bring in their own mask to wear if it meets the criteria below.

  • Face masks with loops around the ears or tied behind the head are permissible.
  • Bandanas, neck-gaiters (also called Buffs or neck fleeces), or other styles of masks not listed here are not permissible.

Whether a student is wearing a cloth or disposable face mask, it must:

  • Cover the nose and mouth at all times
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the face
  • Include multiple layers of fabric
  • Allow for breathing without restriction
  • NOT have a one-way valve (or dust filter)
  • Be disposable or be washable and machine dryable without being damaged or changing shape
  • Be worn in all areas required, and until it can be safely removed in areas where not required

Patterns on masks must be appropriate for a professional environment; logos, messages, or lettering of any kind are not permitted, and no decorations (buttons, pins, stickers, etc.) may be affixed to the face mask.

Students must replace their mask if:

  • The mask chosen requires frequent adjustment
  • The mask worn becomes dirty, wet, and/or difficult to breathe through
  • The mask worn does not meet any of the criteria described above

Guidelines for Graduation Dress

In recognition of the commitment to professionalism and hospitality, students are expected to comply with the general guidelines and wear the following at graduation:

Associate Degrees, Bachelor's Degree (Singapore), and Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program

  • Flesh-colored or dark hosiery/dark socks
  • Clean and polished black dress shoes
  • Black dress slacks or pants
  • CIA-issued cleaned and pressed white graduation chef jacket buttoned to the top
  • CIA-issued clean, white paper toque

Bachelor's Degrees (New York Campus)

  • CIA-issued black cap and gown
  • Anything that shows below the gown must be a solid dark color (e.g., black or navy)
  • Flesh-colored or dark hosiery/dark socks only
  • Clean and polished black dress shoes

Request For Accommodations

Students at the U.S. campuses who have a physical impairment as defined by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or who, because of religious beliefs/customs included in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972), are unable to meet professional attire and grooming guidelines as described above, should submit appropriate documentation in writing for a variance to the vice president and dean of student affairs (NY), Learning Strategies Center administrator (CA), or director of education (TX). Exceptions to these guidelines must be verified by a letter from the school official named prior and must be carried on the student's person at all times.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

While students are in academic buildings on days campus is open, the professional attire and grooming guidelines must be adhered to and will be enforced. For example, students need to be in proper attire to be admitted to classes, dining rooms, or self-service meal lines in the above-mentioned buildings. The penalties for non-compliance with the guidelines are consistent for all classes at the CIA:

  • Of the student's final grade, 10% may be for Professionalism, Uniform, and Hygiene. The professor will assess each violation while students are in the class.
  • Students risk the possibility of having demerits issued.
  • Students who are non-compliant will be dismissed from class to make the needed corrections.

When compliance issues arise with attire and grooming guidelines that can't be resolved in the context of a class, or when they arise in an out-of-class setting, the Office of Student Affairs will take the lead in mediating challenges and assigning any consequences. Students can avoid consequences by demonstrating professionalism in all they do.