There’s more to a chef’s uniform that meets the eye. Aside from it signifying a chef’s rank in the kitchen, it also promotes uniformity and signifies cleanliness. Whether you’re planning to work as a chef or you’re new to the industry, you will probably ask, “What do chefs wear in the kitchen?”
Here’s all you need to know about what chef’s wear and what makes up a chef’s uniform.
What Do Chefs Wear in the Kitchen?
The Hat or Toque Blanche.
The Toque Blanche is of French origin that means “white hat.” Its color denotes the cook or chef’s rank in royal kitchens. The personal chef of former France Prime Minister Charles Talleyrand insisted that toques be in the color white for a clean appearance.
In the 1800s, Marie Antoine Careme, a world-renowned celebrity chef, suggested that toques be of various heights to indicate rank. A chef wears a higher toque as he progresses in ranking. Moreover, the number of pleats in a toque suggests the chef’s prowess in the kitchen.
For instance, a toque with 100 pleats means that the chef can prepare an egg in 100 ways. As the restaurant industry grows, cooks and chefs now have toques to indicate their food specializations.
The Scarf or Neckerchief.
The neckerchief protects the chef’s skin from sweat. It prevents sweat from dripping into the food. When untied, you can use it to wipe your brow. If the kitchen is air-conditioned, there is no need to wear a neckerchief. However, some high-end establishments require it to complete the professional look.
Chefs invest in a high-quality jacket because they use them for extended hours during their shift. Aside from a jacket completing a chef’s professional look, a double-breasted jacket made from double thick cotton is worn to protect the body from hot liquid or steam. A coat of good quality protects the wearer from potential injuries. Its fabric protects from stains and burns and keeps the wearer comfortable and relaxed.
The professional apron protects the jacket from stains. It has heavy-duty pockets that can be a repository of tools used when cooking. A chef’s apron is made from flame-resistant and thick fabric.
Chef Pants or Trousers.
Working chefs, line-cooks, and soup chefs wear the checkered pants to hide the splashes and spills. Most executive or managing chef wear black pants because they are less active in the kitchen. At present, one can wear chef pants in various colors. The pants are loose so that chefs are still fresh and comfortable even after long work hours near stovetops and ovens.
Kitchen Towel or Duster.
In a household kitchen, you use a kitchen towel to lift hot pots and pans. Moreover, you use it to wipe your hands.
However, for chefs, it’s a vital part of their uniform too. Often, chefs keep two dusters as part of the uniform. One is for drying hands, and the other is for picking up hot pans.
Chefs are on their feet for at least 12 hours every day. So, one would need comfortable, yet durable footwear. Non-skid shoes are highly advisable as there could be spills on the kitchen floor that when stepped on cause slips which may result in strains or sprains.
Cut-resistant gloves are another part of a chef’s uniform. This is especially useful if you are using a mandolin. These gloves are often made from Spectra fiber, the same material used in making bulletproof vests.
Oven gloves protect the hand from hot objects like cookware, ovens, and stoves. Similar to potholders, they have heat insulation covered by cotton fabric. At present, you can find silicone oven gloves that are resistant to stains and water. Some gloves are made from synthetic materials.
Why do Chefs Wear White?
After asking “What do chefs wear in the kitchen?” your next question will probably be, “Why do chefs wear white?” Apart from the color promoting uniformity, it also involves a technical aspect. White repels heat and does not absorb it. Also, the color white was chosen explicitly for chefs’ uniforms as it signifies cleanliness.
How to Take Care of a Chef’s Uniform?
- Invest in high-quality uniform.
If you want to look good in your chef uniform, you need to ensure that you get the best uniform that your money can buy. High-quality uniforms are easier to clean, are thicker, and last longer. Even after repeated washings, the fabric will still hold well.
- Read the labels.
Before you wash your new chef uniform, you need to read the care label and follow it. Each piece of clothing can last for years if you know how to care for it. Moreover, you cannot assume that all clothes have similar care instructions. The chef jacket you bought recently may not have the same care instructions as your old one.
- Remove stains immediately.
If you want to take care of your uniform, you need to ensure that you treat stains and spills immediately. You can use club soda in removing most stains. If ordinary washing cannot take the stain off, you can use bleach, but take note not to use chlorine bleach as it would increase yellowing of your white uniform. You can search for an oxygen-based bleach and use it on stains.
- Have an extra uniform.
If you have the money, you can invest in another set of uniform.
- Replace your chef uniform.
Consider replacing a damaged uniform. However, you can still use your old aprons and jackets when you need to perform dirty kitchen work. If you know you’re working on a dish that’s sure to leave stains, make use of your old apron instead.
Uniforms are essential in performing your job. They make you presentable and professional looking. Asking “What do chefs wear in the kitchen?” is a significant step in learning about your chosen career.
We Are Chefs – Why Chefs Wear White (and Sometimes Color Too)
CHEF WORKS – Caring For Your Chef Uniform