Everything you need for a safe and fashionable kitchen wardrobe
The chef’s uniform is one of the most recognizable of all professional uniforms, in large part due to the media presence of today’s celebrity chefs. In its most common form, it includes a double breasted jacket (usually white), checkered pants and some kind of hat.
Uniforms have been adopted in the industry because they promote professionalism. Restaurants require their employees to wear a clean and complete uniform at all times. Culinary schools are often the same.
Chef jackets are probably the most important pieces of chef apparel. They are double breasted so they can be easily reversed to hide stains. Chef jackets are made using a double layer of cotton that’s designed to provide safety against the heat of the stove or the splashing of hot liquid. Many have knotted cloth buttons that can withstand frequent washing and the abuse that comes from constant contact with hot pots and other kitchen equipment. Many chef clothing companies make special jackets for women, which are designed to better fit the female form.
Chef Pants or "Baggies"
Chef pants usually have a "hound’s tooth" checkered pattern (often black and white) to help hide small stains. They’re usually made of a cotton or poly – cotton blend. Some chef clothing suppliers carry what are referred to as "designer baggies," which are chef pants in a variety of patterns. Executive chefs often wear black pants. Recently, cargo chef pants have been introduced by some chef clothing stores and they’re quickly gaining in popularity.
Chef Hat or Cap
The traditional chef's hat, or "toque blanche", is the most recognizable part of the uniform. In fact, chefs have been wearing them since the 1500s. Today’s chefs have begun to wear different types of hats (like "skull caps" or berets), often because they look more fashionable. Some restaurants assign their cooks hats of different sizes to help distinguish rank within the kitchen. Executive chefs and sous chefs wear tall hats, while ine cooks wear shorter ones. Some chefs choose to wear paper toques that are designed to look like cloth, but can be disposed of once they’re soiled.
Aprons are usually white and made of sturdy cotton or a cotton mix. While traditional aprons have certainly not fallen out of favor, there are an abundance of new and unique styles of apron for today’s chefs to choose from, including half bistro, square waist, tapered and the four-way apron. Many chefs choose to wear half aprons that fall from the waist. Some prefer the full bib variation with front pockets. Side slits are also common, as they allow for easy access to pant pockets.
Neckerchiefs are worn mainly for aesthetic purposes, but can also help to soak up the sweat of those working in hot kitchens. Usually, chef neckerchiefs are made in the basic colors of white or black. However, as with most of today's chef clothes, other styles are available to those who want to make a fashion statement.
Simply put, kitchens are very slippery places. Foods and liquids fall on the floor, and there’s little time to clean them up. Adding to the problem, chefs are on their feet all day long, rushing around to ensure that food is prepared on time. It’s vital that all chefs wear shoes with excellent traction. Many chefs wear clogs or slip-on shoes with washable insoles and slip resistant soles. Shoes should also be fully enclosed and provide support for your body and feet. Clogs are popular because they can easily slip off if boiling water falls on your feet. Though they aren’t common, some chefs like to wear steel toe shoes for safety against falling pots and pans.