TOP CHEF ARTO LAPPALAINEN: “THESE WORK CLOTHES BOOST MY CONFIDENCE”By: Elmo Ropponen
In early 2018, two chefs took over as the managers of the Viila Restaurant in Tampere, Finland. They reinvented the restaurant, including the employees’ work clothing. “Consistent work clothes build team spirit.”
The tables at the Viila Restaurant are set in comfy groups, and you can see the kitchen island through the shelves. The wall above the stainless steel stove is covered with black tiles. On the walls of the dining room are pictures of the old wool factory that used to be located in the same block, and the room is lit by matte-black pendant lights.
The manager, Joona Lähdesluoma, and the shift manager, Arto Lappalainen, have a moment to share after a busy lunch hour. Lappalainen, whose merits include membership of the Culinary Team of Finland, has worked here since January 2018. In addition to rethinking the menu, he has introduced new work clothes for the employees.
“Medanta’s work clothes look nice, and I also like how well-fitting, flexible and easy-care they are. They truly are in a class of their own,” says Lappalainen.
For the two managers, it’s important that the employees’ work clothes are consistent with the atmosphere at the restaurant.
“Aspects related to style are increasingly important in working life. In the restaurant business, the kitchen is closer and more visible to the guests than before, meaning that work clothes are even important in terms of their aesthetics.”
Work clothes build team spirit
When selecting new work clothes for the employees, Lappalainen knew what he was looking for. He had familiarised himself with Medanta’s clothes for chefs when working at the Food & Art festival in Mänttä. The festival was created by Pekka Terävä, the owner of Olo, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Helsinki.
The chef’s jacket designed by Medanta for Terävä has become a well-established concept in the restaurant sector – Lappalainen has four of them in his closet.
According to Lappalainen and Lähdesluoma, good work clothes make you feel more self-confident. Short-sleeved black chefs’ jackets remain clean-looking and stylish even in the busiest kitchen. The jackets are combined with well-fitting, antibacterial chinos. Instead of wearing traditional chef hats, Viila’s kitchen employees have stylish black flat caps.
“These clothes boost your confidence,” say Lappalainen and Lähdesluoma. According to the two managers, consistent work clothes also build team spirit: the kitchen and dining room employees feel that they are working together.
"It’s important that the employees look like they belong here – that they are part of this community,” says Lappalainen.
Lähdesluoma is impressed with how well-fitting, breathable and easy to care for Medanta’s clothes are.
“They are easy to wash at home, as you can get rid of any stains and odours at low temperatures. And they stay wrinkle-free. The chef’s jacket doesn’t need to be ironed after washing – you only need to shake it out a few times. I also find the press studs more practical than buttons.”
Work clothes that match the atmosphere
The renewed Viila has met with positive reviews. “A new gastronomic star is born at Tampella,” Aamulehti reported in February 2018.
According to Lappalainen, Medanta’s stylish black work clothes are a particularly good fit for the mellow evening atmosphere at Viila, but they are also complimented during the day. For example, a group of three women who have come to the restaurant for lunch like the fact that it’s easy to immediately tell the staff from the guests.
“When you compare our work clothes to the oversized jackets and gingham trousers worn at restaurant schools, there is quite a difference,” Lappalainen says with a laugh.
Lähdesluoma nods in agreement, saying that clothes in the restaurant business are often unisex.
"Which means that they don’t fit anyone. The clothes are often baggy, yet tight in the wrong places.”
Viila’s kitchen employees and waiters participated in selecting new work clothes for the staff when Satu Mikkola, Key Account Manager at Medanta, drove from Helsinki to Tampere with samples of the company’s clothing. This ensured that everyone had time to try them on without any rush.
Viila is currently expecting a delivery of black, water-repellent Vans kitchen shoes from Medanta. Their insoles have been customised for added standing comfort, and the anti-slip qualities of the soles have been enhanced for the kitchen environment.
In the future, Lähdesluoma and Lappalainen would like to design customised details for Viila’s work clothes in cooperation with Medanta.
“We think something carpenter-like would work here stylewise. The pockets on the sleeves could have denim or leather accents, for example.”