Why Do Chefs Wear White?

The classic chef uniform is world renowned. The design is both functional and full of history. By better understanding the creation of the outfit, people can begin to appreciate the thousands of great chefs throughout the world that have dedicated their lives to the trade.

Function and Design

While many think kitchen uniforms are odd or silly looking, the design of each piece of clothing does actually serve a purpose. Traditionally, the uniform contains the toque, dark colored or stripped pants, and double breasted chef jackets. Each piece has certain features that help the cook in the following ingenious ways.

• The double breasted pocket is easily reversible to hide stains.
• Thick cotton material protects the wearer from extreme heat and boiling water.
• Well-made options are unlikely to fray from constant washing and drying.
• The black pants and apron hide and block stains and splatters.

Those are the functional advantages, but there are also many historical and symbolic references found throughout chef uniforms. Since the 16th century, head chefs have been highly regarded, particularly throughout Europe. The appearance was heavily formatted to represent that significant fact. The following symbolism is found within common kitchen uniforms.

• While the toque, the pleated hat, once signified the number of ways known to cook an egg, the pleats now represent the level of experience.
• The white color references multiple characteristics, including authority, cleanliness, and significance.
• Chef jackets are extremely recognizable, and those that wear them are given some degree of prestige, even though no legitimate training is required to don the coat.

Any trained expert in the culinary arts wears this representation of power and prestige to show high levels of skill and techniques. Although it is not necessary to pass any formal training or schooling to wear the uniform, unlike doctors or police officers, many people believe that only properly trained individuals hold the right to wear the jacket and toque to help differentiate the professionals from the beginners.

The History of Chef Uniforms

Of course, the outfit was made popular in France, the culinary capital of the world. Marie-Antoine Careme was a French chef roughly two centuries ago that focused on high cuisine for the royalty of the time period, and he is also attributed to developing the current chef uniforms. Later, it was spread to other European countries by famous cooking masters, such as Georges Auguste Escoffier. The spread of culinary arts throughout the world further introduced the design to even more countries, even across oceans into America and Asia.

If you want to show power in the kitchen, chef uniforms are the obvious choice of attire. They hold symbolic and historic undertones that were built by the culinary arts of France and other European countries. They are also functionality significant for blocking stains, protecting from heat, and holding up under stress. The fast paced environment of the kitchen demands both mental and physical stability that only the heavy cloth material can provide.

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