We all love to watch frenzied scenes in the kitchen, with people in all-white uniforms cooking or cutting ingredients for the completion of an order (like Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart in “No reservations“). It would be different without white uniforms, somewhat less engaging or fascinating. In this article we give a closer look to the meaning of chefs uniforms, with a little of history.
A good way to make your kitchen look professional, is by using chef uniforms.
It is very interesting to know that every feature of the chef uniform has his own practical reasons.
A white jacket, instilling cleanliness, protecting the chef from the heat coming from the kitchen. It also protects the chef from splashes of boiling water. The double-breasted jacket can cover any dirty stains when overturned. Traditionally, fabric extractable buttons are preferred because they last longer after being washed many times, whilst also enduring contact with hot objects without melting.
The modern chef jacket can have long or short sleeves.
They can have different colors - some have a black hems, others have white details.
Nowadays, black jackets are very appreciated.
Along with different base colours, there are also possibilities to customize chef jackets.
TV programs as “Master Chef” or “Hell’s Kitchen“, have brought the idea of customized chef jackets, with even the embroidered chef name.
The traditional color of chef trousers is salt-and-pepper, or checkered, in order to hide any dirt or cooking stains during the service in the kitchen.
Even if in recent days chef trousers can vary in color, choosing dark designs helps to hide and marks or stains.
While the chef jacket is formal, chef trousers are loose and informal, because they help chef to stay cool during the job and they give them freedom of movement.
Chefs need to move fast, bend over, lift objects, thus they need trousers allowing them to move freely.
Additionally, chef trousers need pockets, to hold towels, utensils and even food.
In the USA, most chefs wear checkered trousers. In Europe, chefs prefer to wear blue trousers or salt-and-pepper-trousers. The head chef usually wears black chef trousers, however every chef has his own taste and looks for something he likes.
Aprons are used to protect clothes from food marks and stains during the job in the kitchen. There are many types of aprons on sale with bib (french style), the most popular in recent days are low-rise aprons with bib, including a pocket.
Obviously, we have to mention the toque (pronounced “tock”), which completes the chef uniform. The height of the hat represents the kitchen rank. Traditionally 100 pleats represents the 100 ways to which a chef knows how to cook an egg, or better, it represent the chef's overall experience in the kitchen.
Nowadays, there are many types of chef hats - white hats with different heights, traditional hats, garrison caps and baseball caps. There are also disposable chef hats, sold in packets.
There was a time when chefs didn't wear uniforms and they were considered by society as a drunk group of working men.
Two french chefs, Marie-Antoine Careme and Auguste Excoffier, decided to boost the status of this profession by developing the chef uniform.
The increased respect and perception, triggered chefs to study more and to raise the job to a more professional level and since then, discoveries in cuisine never stopped.