Chefs often wear lots of different ‘hats’ in a day jumping from one task to another in a busy kitchen setting. But most chefs choose one style of headwear and that’s an important distinction. The hat a chef wears says a lot about their style and personality, but also may demonstrate their level of experience and expertise.
The significance of the Chef Hat
Originally the Chef Hat or Toque (Arabic for ‘hat’, popularised by the French as Toque Blanche or ‘white hat’) was not only worn to keep hair from falling into the food but to complete the whole look of a chef. This tradition started in France in the early 1800s when the well-known chef Marie-Antoine Carême decided that chefs should have a uniform and part of that chef uniform was the toque (chef hat). He chose white as the preferred colour as it signifies cleanliness.
The size of the chef hat signified the hierarchy of chefs in a kitchen, the taller the hat, the more important the chef was. And the pleats were not just an interesting detail, rather the number of pleats noted how many recipes a chef had mastered - 100 pleats, 100 recipes. The wearing of hats was also to create a sense of unity in the kitchen.
Do the height and number of pleats still matter?
Today, the chef hat has been standardised and ranges between 9-12 inches tall and has a generic number of pleats. The original toque chef hat style today is usually reserved for very experienced chefs and are most often seen in fine dining settings. An example of these would be Aussie Chef’s Spanish style Nylon Hat or Traditional Hat.
Why do Chefs still wear hats?
Modern chefs still wear hats, in part for cleanliness, to keep hair out of food and to help absorb sweat. The wearing of chef hats may also be part of a chef uniform requirement set by the restaurant, industrial kitchen, hotel or cafe or simply be the chef’s personal style and choice. Chefs these days often prefer more modern hats like our Aussie Chef box hats, baseball caps or disposable hats. Most hats come in either white or black but a few styles come in a range of colours to appeal to those chefs wanting to add a splash of colour to their uniform.
Check out the wide range of Chef Hats available at Aussie Chef Clothing Company here.