When we think of chefs, what first comes in mind is a person in this tall hat, white chef shirt, and black trousers with an apron above it. It is one of those uniforms you can see somewhere and automatically tell that someone who cooks in a restaurant or hotel.
The catering business is only as good as it’s chef and that uniform should command certain respect for the role. It is not just something chefs change to when they work.
There are also uniform made for women and of course children. All the components of the chef uniform are significant, and we will see why.
Parts Of A Chef’s Uniform
The chef clothing has various components that make up the whole uniform. The most commonly known, the chef whites include:
- Chef jacket/coats
- Chef shoes
- Chef pants
A chef hat is officially known as a toque, which is Arabic for a hat. It was chosen as white in the 1800s by the French because they believed that white was the most hygienic color. It has 100 folds, and this is because this is the number of ways eggs can be prepared.
Trust it all to be made relevant to the kitchen’s business, huh! There are different types of chef hats which are:
- Toque– Is tall and stiff. It is made in a variety of colors and flops to one side. It is worn mostly by students in training.
- Beanie – They are black, white, or checkered patterns. Are made of either cloth or paper and fits close to the head. They offer versatility in the sense that it allows for color to be quickly injected into a uniform. Furthermore, some beanies have a mesh top that allows for air to escape, making the wearer less hot during his shift.
- Skull Caps – Like its predecessor, it offers a variety of colors to match with the uniform. They are very comfortable since they have a rear elastic band that hugs your head comfortably or ties to secure the fit.
- Baseball caps -These type of caps come in handy in a less traditional or more casual setting, and it goes further to offer an array of color matches just like the beanie hats
- Bandanas -although they have many uses such as neck scarves and headbands- can also function as chef caps since they absorb the chef’s sweat.
- Flat caps and Drivers Caps – this choice is to go for especially when you want to create a casual, modern, and stylish look without ignoring comfort or hygiene. This headwear is ideal for cafes and diners.
How to make a chef’s hat using paper (For children)
The things you will need are the following:
- Sheets of paper-9
- Cellophane tape (clear)
- Tape measure
- Stiff card stock
- Trim a piece of cardstock 1/2 inch by 11 inches and another 1 1/4 inches by 11 inches. These are to be used as measuring guides to make the pleated section of the hat.
- Place the half-inch guide at the bottom of a piece of paper. Keep the guide from shifting while you fold the paper over the guide and crease the paper.
- Place the 1 1/4 inches guide on the paper aligned with the crease you just finished. Repeat the alternating folds across the entire sheet of paper. The sheet should begin with a half-inch tab and end with 1 1/4 inches after the last half-inch fold.
- Four sheets will be enough for small children, for teens and adults, make five or six.
- Place the sheets with the pleats all facing the same direction. Tape the half-inch tab of the first sheet to the 1 1/4 inches tab of the second. Repeat, forming a continuous pleated strip.
- Tape two papers end to end with an overlap of one inch, resulting in a piece of paper 8 1/2 inches by 21 inches. Use the folding guide to mark 1 1/4 inches along the long edge of the paper and fold along the line. Fold over again, forming a cuff for the brim of the hat.
- Turn the piece over, measure and mark 1 1/4 inches along the opposite edge. Place the pleated paper along the mark and tape it down securely.
- Measure around your child’s head with the fabric tape measure. Add one inch. Measure the hat material to the calculated length and cut.
- Finally, bring the two ends together with an overlap of one inch and tape.
Why do chefs wear tall hats?
Tall hats hail from the 1800s in France where a chef called Marie-Antoine Careme wanted his chefs to wear uniforms. The hats had different heights, which indicated their ranks. His was 18 inches and had to be reinforced with cardboard to stand.
What about the pleats?
The pleats also signified the same. The more the pleats, the more experienced you were. At this time, they signify your experience level.
These are another integral part of the chef’s attire. They have mentionable purposes;
Chef coats are made of high quality, fire-resistant double-thick cotton. It can do an excellent job protecting your body from steam as well as to allow breathability.
The thick fabric can protect your skin from sharp kitchen tools, and it can also prevent boiling liquids from giving you severe burns. A chef’s jacket is designed to keep you safe, similar to the chef attire’s other pieces.
Spilling food on yourself while cooking is inevitable in a kitchen. A traditional chef’s coat has two rows of buttons down the front and is double-breasted to allow you to change the sides of the jacket if one side is soiled or stained.
The jacket’s thick material ensures that the bottom layer is free from stain by hiding the stains on the coat. It is also handy if they are required to present in the dining room to speak with patrons. However, you can opt for single-breasted jackets if your cooking is not very messy.
Apart from safety, chef jackets signal that the person who dorns it is a professional that takes his career seriously and is also proud of that note.
When it comes to the color of jackets in modern times, it has little significance, and it is left to the cook’s personal preference, or a need to match the aesthetic of the dining establishment.
Chef’s jackets should preferably have knotted buttons because plastic and metal buttons tend may all off, and that is a hazard in a working kitchen.
Knotted cloth buttons provide a more straightforward way to undo should the chef need to remove their jacket or in the event of an accident with the usual fire or hot oil.
Aprons that are solely worn by chefs have a variety of purposes :
It is used for protecting the cloth from different food items that may stain the fabric. It doubles up to protect the food from microbial contamination because you move everywhere in the kitchen with the cloth. They should also be made of fire-resistant material to protect the chef.
The apron that chefs wear is generally made of durable and washable fabric so that the food stains can be easily washed. They must be tied and fitted to prevent any loose parts from being dipped into food or coming into contact with open fire.
Aprons that have pockets are also great for storing utensils as chefs are sometimes busy moving from station to station.
Chefs are usually very mobile around the kitchen, so they are in dire need to have comfortable shoes.
The shoes should fit the chef well and have proper shock absorption to relieve some of the pressure on the bottom part of your feet from standing on the hard floor for long periods.
To avoid dangerous situations, all chefs should wear shoes that are non-slip and have steel or reinforced toe caps. This will lower the occasion of injury in case they drop any heavy equipment or hot liquids. Moreover, chefs wear shoes without laces to limit the risk of tripping over an untied shoelace.
Crocs are the most popular shoes in the culinary industry, and these are the reasons:
- Have good heel grip for moving through the usually slippery kitchen
- The enclosed toe and heel design fully cover the tops of chefs’ feet and protect them from all the sharp objects found in their workplaces.
- Have extra padding for excellent shock absorption
- Have no laces, so there’s no risk of tripping over an untied lace
Chef pants are usually loose-fitting to assist with comfortable movement as well as protecting the chef against hot spills since it is not tightly fitting to the skin.
They go further to possess a ”houndstooth” pattern (a two-toned (black and white) outline made up of abstract four-pointed shapes) The pattern is handy in hiding stains and dirt.
The neckerchief is an essential part of the uniform because it absorbs sweat and prevents it from falling into the dishes or food. It also helps keep the Chef cool in warm kitchens where he could decide to wet it and put it there for cooling.
Additionally, chefs use it to wipe their faces because the kitchen tends to be always hot. Most places require this also to finish up the uniform and look professional.
Taking Care Of A Chef’s Attire
To ensure longevity, many chefs choose to invest in higher quality uniform pieces. They are generally made of more durable materials that can withstand frequent washing and retain their original shape and color to reduce constant new purchases.
Below are a few highlights on how to take care of your chef attire:
- Be aware of the instructions from the manufacturer because they may vary from one cloth to another.
- When the garment gets stained, make sure to treat it as possible to avoid setting it in. A stained chef’s uniform doesn’t portray a really clear picture.
- Wash off the stains after each shift is over to avoid dirt and stains setting.
- Consider using a laundry service that you trust to clean your chef’s clothes thoroughly.
- To refresh your whites, use an oxygen-based bleach after every three months.
- Store the uniform safely and where it won’t keep getting touched to keep away dirt.
- This is a uniform. Make sure to change it in the restaurant and remove it when leaving for home.
- Have one or two for inter-changing purposes.
- Replace any worn out part of the uniform to maintain a professional look.
To minimize the risk of injuries, one should avoid wearing:
- Clothing made from synthetic and flammable fibers
- Clothing that does not fully cover arms and legs (i.e., singlets and shorts)
- Open-toed shoes such as sandals
- Shoes with low traction
- Uncomfortable shoes