BRIEF HISTORY OF A CHEF’S UNIFORM

CHEF HAT/ TOQUE:

The toque dates back to the sixteenth century and different heights of the toque may have represented the different ranks within the kitchen. A toque traditionally has a hundred folds and this is said to represent the many different ways in which a chef
knows how to cook an egg.

Hygienic purposes include:

  • Protecting hair from the smoke and oil in the kitchen.
  • Allowing air to circulate on top of the head (toque).
  • Preventing loose hairs from falling onto the food.
  • Absorbing perspiration from the forehead.
  • A professional chef will always wear a hat and demand that other cooks in the kitchen wear the traditional cook’s hat.

NECKTIE:

The necktie is a large triangular light cloth which is folded and worn around the neck as one would knot a normal tie. The necktie was originally worn to absorb perspiration and guard the neck from drafts in hot underground kitchens. Modern air conditioned
kitchens make the necktie out of date, however the necktie is still worn by professional cooks as a symbol and respect for the trade.

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CHEF JACKET:

The white chef jacket is said to signify the importance and high regard of the profession. The coat protects the chest and arms from the heat of stoves and splashes from boiling liquids and to achieve this, the coat must be double breasted and long sleeved and always be buttoned up with the correct number of buttons. This allows for four layers of cloth between the heat source
and the front of the body. To protect the arms the sleeves should not be rolled up. The colour of the buttons also depicts the level of the cook/chef, a qualified chef will wear black buttons and an unqualified cook will wear white buttons.

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CHEF TROUSERS:

The traditional colour for chef pants is plain black or checkered black and white, which aids in hiding the dirt that is brought about by working in the kitchen.  Although modern chef’s pants now have various colors, the purpose of the dark and patterned designs remains
the same:  to camouflage the dirt.  While the chef’s jacket is formal, the pants is loose-fitting, more relaxed and informal, as it helps chefs keep cool while doing their job.  It also gives them freedom to move.  Modern design for chef’s pants are baggy-styled, cargo or zipper-styled.  In Europe and South Africa, working chefs wear blue and white checkered pants.  Qualified chefs often wear black pants.

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APRON:

The apron is designed to protect the lower body from accidentally spilled hot liquids and is worn from the waist to just below the knee. The top of the apron is folded over and tied around the waist. The apron tapes are then tucked under the fold. The apron is easily and quickly changed. This allows the cook to put on a clean apron before meeting customers or entering the dining room.

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SHOES:

Chef shoes must be slip resistant, sturdy, provide support and protect the feet. The shoes must have a protective cover over the toe area so as to avoid injury if something is spilled or dropped in the kitchen. The shoes should not absorb water or fat and should be easy to clean. Chef shoes are traditionally black and should be worn with black socks. Ensure that the shoes are
comfortable and provide necessary support as standing on hard floors all day can cause discomfort. The style can either have show laces or be a Slip-on style

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