this thing’s incredible

I Simply Do Not Want to Cook Without My Mise Kitchen Shoes

Photo: Lauren Joseph

I’ve always been kind of mortified that I’m a “shoe girl.” Yet no amount of self-shaming has dissuaded me from ogling a certain pair of black platform Prada boots (I could tell you every time they’ve walked by in the past year) — or going on the hunt for the right pair of chef shoes that could provide ankle support, some cushy padding, no-slip grip, and a roomy toe box for feet that inevitably swell during 16-hour shifts.

If it seems like I have mighty goals for my professional footwear, I do. Until a few years ago, I worked as a writer full-time, my unfettered civilian feet tucked into whatever footwear I damn well pleased. Now, I’m a line cook whose job consists of 50 to 60 hours a week of standing, lifting 50-pound pots of potatoes, lunging for the under-counter fridge during service, or, my personal favorite, running while trying to look chill because I’m behind on my mise en place and don’t want to be found out. My feet’s need for good old RICE has never been as strong (I’ve lost as many toenails from a few years of my feet jamming against the front of my kitchen boots as I have in 17 years as a near-daily runner). But the four pairs of shoes I’ve tried have all let me down — the boots I wore for the better part of nine months never broke in completely and lacked any amount of softness under foot, while the clogs and slides threatened ankle injury and slowed me down.

The author in her Mise Standards. Photo: Lauren Joseph

But I finally found the cure during a lengthy post-shift, zoned-out Instagram scroll: Mise’s superbly comfortable slip-on kitchen shoes. A little clicking taught me that the brand is a relative newcomer to the hospitality-footwear scene, launching with only one style: an aqua-shoe-like slipper called the Standard, which stood out to me with its athletic-looking fit. More investigation revealed that Mise’s founder, Erik Hernandez, has a background in sneaker design and wanted to bring that innovation- and performance-focused ethos to the restaurant world. I got a pair, and I haven’t looked back since.

The shoe has a flexible leather upper that gives way to a breathable, perforated neoprene opening that hugs your ankle securely. The toe box is gloriously wide, similar to those of my favorite running shoes. The sole isn’t lofty the way those on some clogs are, which I’ve found to be a surefire recipe for rolled ankles. And the cushioning lives between firm and foamy, providing all-day support, while the tread is grippy enough to withstand whatever mystery liquid has pooled by the sink. Crucially, for those of us who cannot get their shit together in the morning, the fastening-free design means I can pull them on quickly before my shift, yet they still provide the support of a proper lace-up sneaker. And, cleverly, when my pair begins to wear down, I have the option of only buying the leather uppers or the sole inserts to extend the life span of my shoes before replacing them.

While they might be sleeker than the typical Birkenstock, the look isn’t for everyone. But to a gorpcore dabbler who comes home to a pair of puffy North Face mules, they fit a certain utilitarian, ugly-cool niche. I will admit that I miss the look — and stomp — of my original kitchen boots. But I’d trade the cracked toenails and numb pinky toes for Mises any day — though the brand does tell me that a Chelsea boot version with rubber soles and a non-pinchy fit is on the horizon for summer 2024.

Some other comfy shoes we’ve written about

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I Simply Do Not Want to Cook Without My Mise Kitchen Shoes