Yes, You Can Work in the Restaurant Industry and Have Cute Nails – Bon Appetit

The food industry is very anti-nails. But I don’t really fit into the typical spaces that we find in the industry. Prior to the pandemic, I was doing a lot of event production, but I burned out from that and found it hard to be inspired. I’ve been investing my time in the nonprofit I co-founded called Breaking Bread, which distributes food to vulnerable communities, and my community garden. I like to do my nails myself because if my manicure chips while I’m working in the garden, I can just throw on another coat.

I love J. Hannah nail polishes. The colors feel natural and earthy and familiar. I really like the shades Patina, Miso, and Dune. Here in New York, nail art is kind of a scene. A lot of my friends who like to get their nails done are unapologetic about it, regardless of their jobs. It’s a form of self-expression.

J. Hanna Patina


Dan Pelosi, food and lifestyle creator, GrossyPelosi

I wear nail polish to talk about what masculinity means. My identity is colorful, it’s joyful, it’s positive. Doing my nails is an extension of that, and also, because I photograph my hands so much, it’s such a great way to add to the story.

In my videos, sometimes I match my nail polish to the cookware or different ingredients in the dish. For one video where I made an Italian sponge cake with berries, I did my nails in this purple hue that was reminiscent of my apron and my hat as well as the berries. A harmonious color story! People pick up on it, which I love.

See My Toes is a brand started by a friend of mine who lives in Portland, Oregon. They have really great colors, and it’s vegan and cruelty free. We collaborated on a color called Lost in the Sawce, after my vodka sauce recipe. You know the sauce is done when its color matches your fingernails. We did a really limited run, only like 100 bottles or something like that, and it sold out in a weekend.

See My Toes Wanderlust


Lena Sareini, pastry chef and James Beard Award semifinalist

Having a fresh manicure makes me feel like a bad bitch! Before I started culinary school, I always had my nails done. My sister was really into nail art, and she would give me fun designs. But after I started working in restaurants, my relationship with nail polish really depended on whether my employer allowed it or not, and when they didn’t, it was devastating. I get it—nail polish can chip and get into the food you’re working with. But shellac exists, and it’s basically chip-resistant and lasts a long time, so I wear that.