A history of chef uniforms

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Chefs UniformsIt is all about pride. If you’ve got it in your profession, you’ll have it inside your uniform, no matter your path in life. With the Chef’s uniform, there’s more at stake than just ensuring that your uniform is white and clean. A dignified look aids in generating a feeling of effectiveness. When you don the jacket, toque, trousers, apron and necktie, you’re continuing centuries-old traditions. There are several apocryphal stories about the source of the chef’s uniform, so here are some of the most popular.

  • The Hat or Toque            

The Chef’s toque or hat goes back to primordial times. Thousands of years ago in Assyria, the act of poisoning was a common technique for a person to rid himself of adversaries. Aware of this problem, Assyrian royalty carefully choose their cooks. They were allowed to wear a crown of a comparable shape to the royal family retaining them, although made of fabric and lacking jewels.

Chef Boucher, Careme’s tutor, who prepared meals for the Prince of Talleyrand, maintained that everyone in his kitchen put on a white toque for hygienic reasons. It kept hair out of the food while absorbing most of the moisture from an inflamed brow. The column of air within the Chef’s hat retained a calmness of head inside a hot kitchen. Well ahead, Chef Marie-Antoine Careme felt that each workstation and rank within the kitchen ought to have different height hat. The chef, existing as the head of the kitchen, dressed in the loftiest hat. There was a rumour that Careme’s hat was about 18 inches tall and needed to be secured to keep it upright.

Likewise pleats, are immersed in their own fascinating history. Their foundation arose from the notion that the more knowledge a chef possessed the more pleats they have on their hat. A pleat might indicate a recipe or technique he had become skilled at. At a time, a chef had one hundred pleats in his hat to show the hundred different ways he could prepare eggs. Today, chef hats do not hold so many pleats, but still they show a chef’s experience level.

  • The Jacket

The dual breasted chefsjacket was depicted in Marie-Antoine Careme’s 1822 diagram and was trending by the year 1878. The merit of these exclusive wide-flapped jackets was that should the front of the jacket turn out to be soiled, then the flaps could be overturned with the dirty one concealed behind, to create a better look. Therefore, the Chef could wear an unsoiled jacket for twice as long. To add to this, there were two layers of defence from splashes, spills, steam and heat.

  • The Trousers

A Chef’s trouser possesses a small chequered design that’s useful in disguising the unavoidable stains, which develop while operational.

This is worn on top of the jacket and around the midsection to safeguard the uniform and the Chef.

  • The Necktie

This serves the same aim to a uniform as a tie does to a business suit, and is tied in the same technique. Initially, when kitchens were insufferably hot, the necktie caught and immersed facial perspiration.

  • The Shoes

High-quality, protective and supportive footwear is an often unnoticed part of the uniform, but also a very vital part, a fact to which anybody who stands all day can confirm.

If you walk into a kitchen with a bright, spotless uniform, it’s not only a measure of your outward appearance alongside your skills and profession too, but it’s also a matter of health for your clients. By respecting the history of this fabulous uniform, you have shown that you’re a member of a team and a practitioner of a noble and ancient craft.


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