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Chef Shoes

Dansko Professional Review

The Dankso Professional is an iconic style from an iconic brand. There was even an ode to the Dansko Professional in the New York Times (In Praise of an Aggressively Unfashionable Shoe, March 13, 2017). So we couldn't wait to put them to the test in the kitchen. Though they've become a fashionably unfashionable footwear choice, they are also designed and heavily used as work clogs in kitchens around the world.

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Being on your feet all day in sometimes wet, sometimes greasy, sometimes hot conditions is not easy. Having a shoe that can keep you comfortable, safe, dry, and cool is essential to making it through the day without damaging your feet, legs and back. The Dansko Professional was designed to provide comfort and safety in these conditions and it succeeds brilliantly. It's no coincidence that the Dansko Professional clog/mule has endured as one of the top choices of chef shoes for so long, even after the introduction of the Dansko XP and Dansko XP 2.0 [**LINK**].

One thing you do need to pay attention to is the style you choose. As the Dansko brand has crossed from a pure work shoe to a fashion statement, various styles and leather choices have cropped up. Some of these are suited for wet and greasy conditions while others are not. In particular, if you are using these to work in the kitchen avoid the Cabrio leather options and instead go for Box leather. These will stand up to grease and water and will be easy to clean.

Fast Facts About This Offering

  • Leather Uppers
  • 1" platform with 1.75" heel
  • Rounded toe box with reinforcement
  • Memory foam footbed (not removable, look to the XP 2.0 for a removable footbed)
  • Padded instep collar (the part that goes across the top of your foot)
  • PU Outsole for shock absorption and flexibility
  • Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association

Performance and Use

Dansko is one of the most trusted brands in the market for clogs, sandals, and shoes for people who are working on their feet all day. Founded in 1990, Dansko has been pursuing its mission of improving the quality of life through passion and commitment to great products. Chefs around the world have made Dansko one of the most popular brands because of their cult-like promotion to Dansko clogs.

Their is something of a rite of passage to getting used to your first pair of Dansko professionals. They wear a little differently than most shoes, in that your heel is actually supposed to move up and down while you walk. This provides greater lateral stability, breathability, and comfort over a long shift in hot conditions. They even have a special video on how you are supposed to wear the Dansko professional clog which you can find HERE.

One thing you need to watch out for with the Dansko professional is the leather upper. There are several options for type of leather (as well as color), and not all of them are ideal for wet and greasy conditions that you might run into in a kitchen. In particular, the Cabrio leather is not ideal for the kitchen. You'll want to go with the "Box" leather options. If it isn't obvious from the product listing, you can tell the difference by the amount of shine: Cabrio has a very dull finish, while Box leather has a little shine (without being completely reflective).

Cushioning and Comfort

One of the most important aspects of any shoe purchase, and particularly a chef shoe, is comfort. As we mentioned above, the Dansko Professional is supposed to allow some movement of your heel, so you probably want to order a half-size up. This will also take a bit of getting used to, but once you've figured out how to walk in them, this heel motion really helps the long-term comfort of the Dansko Professional.

Another nice feature that helps with the comfortability of the Professional Clog is the roomy toe box reinforced with thermoplastic. Shoes or clogs that squish your toes really start to hurt after a few hours, and without a reinforced toe box, the repeated exposure to water and heat that is inherent to chef work will cause the toe box to deform over time.

Although the memory foam footbed is comfortable, and provides great arch support for those with flat feet, they are not removable. So if you want or need custom orthotics, the Dansko Professional isn't going to work for you. You can check out the DANSKO XP 2.0 though!

Value and Cost

The Dankso Professional is definitely one of the more expensive options on our list of the best chef shoes. However, given the quality of the materials and construction these shoes will last a really long time. Also, the excel in keeping you comfortable throughout the day, so a few extra dollars up front will definitely pay off in terms of keeping your feet, legs and back injury-free.

Dansko Professional: The Pros

  • Super Comfort. For those who learn how to move around in the Dansko Professional, allowing their heel to move up and down inside the shoe, these are some of the most comfortable and stable shoes you are going to find.
  • Roomy Toe Box. Reinforced with thermoplastic, the toe box provides plenty of room for your digits, and the solid construction means it won't shrink or deform over time.
  • Padded Instep Collar. The Dansko Professional is supposed to fit snuggly around the top of your foot, and the padded collar does an excellent job of keeping the shoe in place while preventing rubbing on the top of your foot that might lead to blisters.

Dansko Professional: The Cons

  • Tight Fit. If you have wide or large feet these may be too tight for you. The most frequent complaint on the fit of these shoes is that they are just too tight around the top and sides of the foot. Do be sure to order a half-size larger than normal though so that your heel can move up and down in the shoe.
  • Adjustment Period. It takes a little practice to walk around in the Dansko Professional properly. Once you get the hang of letting your heel move up and down, it is great, but some people never like this feel.

Our Verdict

Having the right shoe or clog in the kitchen means having a shoe that will keep you safe and keep you comfortable. Failure to meet both of those conditions is a real deal-breaker in shoes for chefs. Luckily, the Dansko Professional does an excellent job at both.

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