Monday, April 4, 2011

History of The Chef's Uniform and the Toque - How Henry VIII Played A Part in It's History

The chef's uniform that you may be familiar with has an interesting history. It was first developed by a popular French chef, Chef Marie-Antoine Careme, in the mid 1800's. Chefs learned to read and write long ago so they could write down and record their recipes, as well as read those from others, so they were considered learned men. It made sense that they would wear a uniform to show their status to others in their lives. The hat worn by chefs is called a toque, and it dates back to the 1500's in origin. Many people in the trades wore hats during this time to denote what type of work they did. There is also the story of some hair being in King Henry VIII's soup and he ordering the beheading of the poor fellow as his punishment. The new chef, and every chef since then, has worn a hat, of course. The toque serves two purposes. The first is the one you might imagine; to keep their hair from falling down into the food they are preparing. I've seen cooks in restaurants wearing a hair net for this very reason. The other purpose of the toque is to show how much experience the chef has. Much like rings in trees or stripes on military uniforms, the pleats and the height of the toque tell us the level of accomplishment and expertise of the person wearing it. Originally, this was to show how many ways they could prepare an egg. These pleats can go all the way up to one hundred, so begin to notice this when you are around a chef the next time. At the turn of the century, chef M.A. Escoffier had a huge influence on the chefs he worked with. He encouraged them to act and dress like professionals, even when they were off duty. This included wearing a jacket and a tie when not in the kitchen, and to abstain from excessive drinking, smoking, and swearing. The double-breasted cotton jacket is practical, because it can be reversed to hide stains, and it also serves as a protection from the hot stoves and the liquids in the kitchen. It is white to show the cleanliness of both the chef and the kitchen, as well as the stature of the person wearing it in the kitchen. In ancient times, as far back as the 700's A.D., it is believed that the color white was worn so as not to be offensive to God or the Church. The hound's tooth checked pants are to keep with the appearance of cleanliness. This black and white checked pattern hides spills very well. The original uniform was gray, but this serves much better when it comes to the chef's appearance. Connie Green

Canada Free Classified Ads

No comments:

Post a Comment