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The Culinary Uniform And Its Purpose

If there’s a uniform that hasn’t changed much in history, it would be the chef’s uniform. To some, it may seem or look silly and outdated, but you may not be aware of the importance that goes behind this uniform. In fact, chef wear has changed through the years; it has actually been updated for safety purposes in the kitchen for today’s chefs. So let’s take a look at the traditional chef’s wear and the importance of each function.

The chef coat is perhaps the most commonly seen piece of wardrobe in the kitchen. Like the chef hat, it can be traced back to chefs in the 16th century. When we, as a society, think of a head chef, we immediately think of the clean white coat – which is just one reason for this uniform. To some, the reasoning behind such a solid uniform may have to do with the chef’s purpose. He/she is the one who creates the food that you have come for – there’s something very dignified and strong about a pure white chef coat, but what you may not know is how important the fabric of this coat actually is.

Now when you are cooking in the kitchen, it’s mostly safe. Nothing that an apron can’t help with, correct? However, in a chef’s kitchen, it’s not as safe. In this type of kitchen, you are met with very close proximity. The chef has a team all around and there are waiters traipsing in and out of the kitchen full speed. It is very easy to bump into someone with hot liquid – not only is that dangerous, but the temperature in the kitchen alone is extremely hot. Imagine lifting a steamer lid when the hot food isn’t quite ready yet. There are so many instances where a chef needs the right safety equipment.

The chef coat, alone, will protect you from severe injuries. Throughout the years, it had become possible to create such fabrics that will A) keep you cool in high temperature atmospheres and B) protect you from burns and stains.

Even something as strong as a chef jacket needs protection. But why would you need protection for a chef coat when that’s the entire purpose of the coat? Well think about it, a chef’s coat is certainly a nice piece of change – the most high-serving products always are – and it’s beautiful and white. While we know this chef coat is great for protection, why not try to stop that stain from hitting such a nice piece of fabric, first? After all…. is there a such thing as too much protection? And the apron serves as a great stain protection factor, but there is way more to the apron than stain protection.

In a professional kitchen, an apron can serve many different purposes. In fact, there are several different apron choices with a different count of pockets, such as a Bistro Apron. Having heavy duty pockets within your apron is an advantage especially in such a fast-paced environment. Here you can store whatever tools you need at all times, that way you aren’t running back and forth, decreasing any chance you may have to run into other workers. It certainly will make such a high-maintenance job less problematic.

The hat and chef coat sure seem to go hand in hand. The hat is especially iconic, as it can be traced back to the 16th century. When we think of a chef, don’t we see that tall white hat?

To some, it’s the look but this hat serves a much bigger purpose, just like the chef coat. Nobody, and I mean, nobody wants to look down at their food and see a piece of hair. Just talking about it makes me squirm! And let’s not get into how easy it is for just the smallest piece of hair to shed away. When something like this happens, it can certainly become a chef’s worst nightmare. The night will be ruined and maybe even their reputation. It’s very important to hide every piece of your hair under that headwear. It would be a shame to work so hard on creating the perfect meal, to be ruin by one simple loose hair!

You may be wondering: for such a warm environment, why are chef’s bundling up as if they are in a snow storm? Well believe it or not, this little piece of fabric can actually help keep you cool.

Like a handkerchief (see the resemblance in name?), it will help protect your skin from sweat and can also be used to wipe the sweat from your face. This is another thing you don’t want dripping into the food. Yikes! There’s another thing that makes me squirmy – though a little less noticeable than a hair. Okay… moving on…

You can simply tie this fabric around your neck and save yourself from dripping sweat. Plus, here’s a bonus: it looks extremely professional and completes the chef’s uniform! Everyone needs a neckerchief.

And finally, don’t forget the pants! We don’t really need to explain the use of pants, do we? Boy, I sure hope not.

So while a bright white chef’s uniform surely fulfills the purpose of professionalism in such a high-end business, as we can see there is a much larger purpose at play here. So for all of you first-time chef’s stepping into the business, be sure to take each piece of garment seriously! And let me know where you’re cooking because now I’m hungry.