The gift that just keeps giving
By Francine Cohen
This holiday season there are plenty of gifts exchanged; some awful that you can’t re-gift them fast enough, and others so perfect only you could have picked them out yourself.
MOZO shoes are that one gift you’ll be glad you gave yourself; so stylish and comfy that nobody else (but another chef/bartender/server/manager) would understand the bliss you feel knowing you’ve stopped the pain in your back and your feet before it even had a chance to flare up.
MOZO brand President, Stuart Jenkins, explains why his team of shoe designers and engineers from the Deckers Outdoors (www.deckers.com – the parent company who also brought us TEVA and UGG) partnered with chefs Chris Consentino, Macus Samuelsson, and Aaron Sanchez to design these new shoes for those who spend their working hours in the back and front of house. He says, “Why is it that someone should be spending 8-10 hours a day on their feet without having the benefits of comfort and sustainability of comfort? We would like to think we can make any 8 hour shift better than it has been in the past.”
He continues, “Our shoes feature The Uniframe design which includes MOZO’s trademark gel insoles and slip-resistant outsoles, as well as side vents that aid in moisture and heat management. MOZO offers durability in cushioning, traction, support and craftsmanship and has certified slip-resistant outsoles through a unique Spider Traction™ compound. The exclusive TripleFit System™ lets users customize the volume inside their shoe by a half size, larger or smaller. The one thing this line of product brings to the industry is that they are extremely light weight while offering proper cushioning and insoles and construction. MOZO gets people out of sneakers and puts them into traction for safety.”
With the intent of creating shoes that are made to mold to the foot and let it breathe, a critical element during active and lengthy shifts, Jenkins and his team set out to make a shoe that is not only functional but also fashionable and fits the lifestyle. He explains why, “When I watched through the trade shows and looked at the shoe exhibits I saw what people were making and you had two choices, black or white. It seemed to me that the product the shoe industry was offering was out of touch and there was a huge misstep between the market and the products it was being offered. There was no real choice, no sense of performance, no artisanship, no inventiveness. Yet when you talk to the chefs and observe their culinary style you realize that they are athletes, creators, and perfomers, and they do all this under tremendous pressure.”
Chris Consentino of Incanto (www.incanto.biz), Boccalone (www.boccalone.com) and Offal Good (www.offalgood.com) knows a little something about pressure between running a restaurant and salumeria, juggling television appearances (Chef vs. City, Next Iron Chef), family, and finding time to get on his racing bike. He got involved in part because, as he is willing to admit, he’s a shoe guy; or, as he says, “Just to start off, I’m a shoe whore. I have so many shoes coming out the wahzoo; I love shoes. Mostly sneaks. Seriously…food people are blowing up and this concept originally started off with the idea of coming up with shoes with chefs, by chefs, for chefs that were fun.”
He continues, “For me this has been an exciting project. How cool is it to design something that effects every day and gives cooks and chefs the opportunity not to suffer while standing on their jobs. Why we’re designing something to make people feel better still fits in the same vein as part of what the food industry is about; we are very fortunate we get to make people happy with food. It’s the same concept when it comes to your feet. Isn’t that pretty cool? We need to be comfortable to make people happy.”
If you were at Aspen Food & Wine you might have seen how happy one Spanish chef was in his MOZO shoes as Consentino notes, “I gave a pair to Jose Andres at Aspen Food and wine and he wore them on the dance floor all night.”
Dancing feet are kept happy thanks to the ongoing evaluation of the shoe’s performance. Consentino explains, “I send back shoes to be analyzed on a regular business. I continuously send back shoes that have been worn and tested to see what do we need to do to make them better? How do we make them better than they are now? It’s all part of a partnership. How cool is that you can get together and have an honest conversation about how can we tweak this and make it better? Where can you have that honesty?”
An ability to have that give and take is one big reason that Jenkins reached out to Consentino and his cooking comrades to partner on this project. Jenkins notes, “We shared this idea that great footwear didn’t have to be boring, that shoes could have a sense of style and flair and could perform in the kitchen but they could still be something chefs would be proud to wear outside the kitchen. We didn’t just take an existing style shoe and slap their name on it and say that’s the Aaron shoe. We sat down with our footware designers and really discussed, ‘what’s important to you?’ ‘what do you want in your shoe?’ Each one of their shoes authentically represents something about them. On Chris’ shoe there’s an image that is actually the tattoo on his arm. Aaron’s incorporates the Latin design of the skull, but the eyes are spoons.”
Hi-design aside, these shoes are also cost efficient, and not just for their reasonable price of approximately $69.95. Consentino explains, “Here’s the one thing that’s been really interesting, our chef de cuisine came to me after wearing these and said, ‘I don’t think we need the floor mats anymore.’ To take the floor mats out and have everyone work on the tile – we’re going to save time and energy and water. There’s something to be said for being able to remove a component of your every day system. By changing the shoe we made everything more efficient in the long run. You can’t say that every day.”
One last element that makes MOZO shoes a gift you don’t want to miss out on is their charitable component. Jenkins comments, Part of the Deckers’ way of doing business is to be a member of the community. In that way we’d been looking for something our brand could do that gives back to the community – we had looked at various opportunities and Marcus brought C-CAP to our attention. The more we looked at the C-CAP mission the more we felt it was the right association. They had a program in place, and a perfect place to bring culinary, youth, outreach, and educational together.
We gave 10,000 for culinary scholarships for high achieving students and pairs of shoes to students who win honors. We also offer a discount for all students in the program and faculty to buy the best culinary shoes at a price that’s favorable to them. Including the instructors by providing a significant discount to those educators was a way to respect and honor them and show we value what they are doing for young men and women in this industry.”
Richard Grausman, founder of C-CAP (www.ccapinc.org) is thrilled to partner with MOZO and have their support for his national culinary education program that fosters opportunities in the culinary field for disadvantaged youths. He says, “When I was told that Marcus Samuelsson, Aaron Sanchez and Chris Cosentino wanted their newly designed MOZO kitchen shoes to in some way help C-CAP and the work we do, it was a no-brainer! When I found out that MOZO wanted to help make it affordable for our students to own excellent non-skid work shoes and provide future competition winners with scholarships, the partnership was a natural fit for us.
He continues, “The initial exposure to our students, mentors and teachers came this spring when we announced the partnership at 5 of our Awards ceremonies. All winners of our competitions received a free pair of MOZO shoes and teachers and mentors were given instructions on how to receive a 50% discount on any style of MOZO shoes. We continue to let people involved with our programs know how they too can take advantage of this wonderful offer.”
If Grausman, Jenkins and Consentino are to be believed (and they should be – we’ve road tested these marshmallow soft shoes too and found miles of bliss), life in a pair of MOZO shoes is just as the holiday classic promises, a wonderful life. Consentino concludes, “Being able to stand up all day and not suffer – who’s winning? Everyone wins.”