If you have ever seen a chef working to produce great food you have probably noticed that all chefs tend to wear a similar type of clothing. They generally wear a chef’s jacket, trousers and hat. Although these items of clothing may differ in design, and colouring, depending on the chef who is wearing them, there are similarities, and traditions which are often followed.
We are going to talk about the three main items of a chef’s wardrobe, the jacket, the hat and the trousers. We will take a look at the traditions surrounding a chef’s uniform and why they wear certain items.
A chef’s hat
You have probably seen chefs wearing tall white hats as they are working; these hats are called toques. Originally, chefs wore grey hats that were designed along the same principal as the hats worn by priests from the Orthodox Church. The white toque was introduced by Chef Marie-Antoine Carême in the 19th Century. He came up with the design of a white hat, the height of which reflects the seniority of the chef who is wearing it. If you ever see a chef wearing a toque, the taller the hat the more senior the chef is.
A chef’s jacket or apron
If you visit the kitchen of a restaurant or café you will often see chefs wearing a white apron or a white jacket. The white colour is chosen for reasons of practicality. It’s a lot easier to see when a jacket needs cleaning if it’s white. It’s also easy to bleach a white jacket back to looking pristine. It’s worth noting that the jackets worn by chefs are reversible. This means that any stains can be hidden on the inside until the jacket is washed.
Chefs’ jackets are also made of double thickness material. This offers the chef protection against any hot liquids they may be using.
A chef’s trousers
In the past chefs’ trousers were often decorated with black and white checks; this was the traditional form of design. If you watch a chef at work today you are just as likely to see them dressed in self-coloured trousers. There is less emphasis on what colour the trousers should be.
One thing that has not changed, when it comes to the design of chefs’ trousers; they are still designed to have plenty of room in them. This means that air can still circulate even in a hot kitchen.
The clothing a chef wears has its origins in tradition. Of all the items, the chef’s jacket is the one which has a design most influenced by practicality. The uniform has become more relaxed over the years, especially in the range of different trousers that are worn. Although not all chefs wear a toque these hats are still very much in existence, and they still help to denote how senior a chef is.