Fashion & Style

What do chefs wear?

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Gordon Ramsey
The chef's chef wearing what chefs wear: The formidable Gordon Ramsey
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If you are familiar with TV cooking shows, you can answer

What do chefs wear? A chef wears whatever the h*ll chef Gordon Ramsey of the TV show Hell’s Kitchen tells him to wear!

Chef Ramsey, the star of his kitchen and the popular show, is one intimidating supervisor. Chefs must toe the line if they are in HIS kitchen. That means wearing proper restaurant apparel, although there is some leeway, as can be seen in the unique head garments that some of the chefs opt to don.

Chefs traditionally wear white jackets that are made of heavy cotton, which insulates the chef from the hot ovens and stoves but remains breathable so that the chef’s body heat can escape. The long sleeves on the white jackets protect arms from getting burned, which is a hazard of the trade. Cotton, the fabric of choice, absorbs liquids. A chef knows to remove his jacket if he has spilled hot oil on it. Fortunately, cotton jackets do absorb the hot oil, which protects the chef, to a certain extent, rather than allowing the oil to pass through the material onto the skin. 

The knotted buttons on the chef’s jacket ensure that the buttons aren’t going to break or melt and fall into someone’s platter of spaghetti. The knotted buttons are also a safety feature: It makes it easier to take off the jacket in the event of a hot oil spill.





A very interesting anecdote about the chef’s jacket is that they are double breasted for a reason: If the front of the jacket gets stained the chef can reverse the flaps, covering up the stain, revealing a clean, fresh outer layer.

White is the color of choice because it wards off heat instead of absorbing it and the chef doesn’t get too hot. A white jacket can be bleached, which it needs after a rough day in the kitchen. 

A chef’s pant is designed a specific way as well. The houndstooth pattern, which is a tiny black and white square configuration, hides stains. 

Some chefs wear neckerchiefs around their neck to absorb sweat.

The conventional chef’s hat is called a toque blanche. The size of the hat that is worn denotes a chef's status in the kitchen. The taller the hat, the higher a chef ranks. The very first chef's hat had hundreds of folds in it. The story is that a famous chef named Marc-Antonin Carame, "the king of cooks and the cook of Kings," designed it this way because he could cook eggs one hundred different ways.

The typical chef’s hat is nine to 12 inches tall and features those vertical pleats thanks to Carame’s propensity for cooking eggs. The hats are made of stiffly starched material, usually cotton, or are paper. Some chef’s hats are black.

Although chef’s uniforms were originally gray, they were redesigned by Chef Carame because he thought white represented cleanliness. He also came up with the idea of a double breasted jacket and making the uniforms from cotton. 

Some claim that the origin of the chef hat can be traced back to the chef for King Henry VIII, who was going bald. The king, nice guy that he was, had the chef beheaded after finding a hair in his soup. Subsequently, all chefs opted to wear a hat to lessen their chances of being beheaded by ruthless kings and customers. 

Chefs wear shoes that are supportive because they are on their feet for long hours, as well as comfortable. Wearing support socks is also a good idea because they will help reduce leg fatigue.

If a chef opts to wear an apron it will be made of cotton, the sturdy kind, and the apron will either be half bistro or square-waisted, four-way or tapered. A square-waisted apron does not cover the chest of the chef and doesn’t hang down to the knees. A four-way apron is versatile. When the front of the apron gets dirty the chef can turn it around and use the other (clean) side. When the second side gets dirty the apron is flipped over for a third surface. When the third side gets dirty it is rotated to the fourth side. This apron folds in half, which creates four sides.

The tapered apron goes up a little higher than the waist line and hangs down to the knees or lower. A bib apron is put on over the head, tied around the waist, and is relatively long. Some chefs like the full bib because it covers the entire front of their uniform. Side slits in the apron are preferred because they allow access to pant pockets. 

Resources:
What is a chef hat?
About chefs coats


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