February 17 2014 – Robert Fiumara
When eating at your favorite restaurant it is always easy to spot the chef, isn’t it? We usually wear a white double breasted jacket, the traditional hat or toque, and checkered pants. While there are no standard chef uniforms, the mentioned list is typical. Now that chefs are routinely on TV showing us how to cook fabulous dishes, we’ve become even more recognizable. While some chefs now wear uniforms that are not white, there is no missing our customary white hats.
The Skinny on Chef Outfits
There are no stringent guidelines when it comes to the chef uniform. However, the white double breasted jacket and checkered pants, also known as a hound tooth offers the standard look. The toque has always been white, and this tradition remains intact. Most chefs also wear aprons, and it is customarily black. While the apron adds style to the uniform it also protects the chef against grease and food splatter in the kitchen.
The double breasted jacket is not only for show. It is made of heavy material and has long sleeves to protect the chef from the high heat present in kitchens. Unknown to laymen, the jacket is also reversible. If one side of the jacket becomes heavily stained the chef can simply reverse the jacket to display a clean and dignified look, and this is important in luxury restaurants. The buttons are very durable, are designed to resist heat and can endure many trips to the laundry.
What About the Pants?
The checkered pants not only add style to the chef’s uniform, but the pattern is great for hiding stains too. Like the jacket, chef pants are made from heat resistant material. As you would expect, restaurant kitchens are hot and the protective material protects the chef from becoming burned in a fire.
The chef’s hat not only keeps hair from getting into the food, but designates chef rank too. The height of the hat is used to distinguish rank. Another curious fact of the chef hat is the number of pleats on the heat designates how many ways the chef can cook an egg, and typically the number is 100. This is likely more myth than fact, but is interesting.
While some chefs personalize their uniforms by adding colors and designs, the chef uniform is recognizable across the globe. White jackets and checkered pants remain popular, but other colors are starting to work their way into the uniform. However, there is no doubt the traditional style will remain with us for many years to come.