Working as a chef can be a demanding and tiring career as you may have to do long shifts or split shifts, generally working late and always keeping to the highest standards of hygiene. If an inspector comes into the kitchen, one of the most important things is that the chefs are wearing their uniforms.
Generally, a chef will wear a complete uniform consisting of the following components:
Brilliant white tunic the whiter the better as this shows better hygiene and that they are not wiping their hands onto their uniform. Usually, much like with the difference between blouses and shirts, men will button up on the right whilst women button to the left.
Chequered trousers unlike the tunic, these are permitted to get dirtier and thanks to the camouflaged design, such marks and stains are much harder to see.
Chefs hat traditionally called a toque, this not only denotes the rank of the chef (often, the higher it is, the higher rank the chef holds) but prevents any hairs falling into the food, much like a hairnet, but far less embarrassing to wear!
A darker apron like the trousers, this generally will appear dirtier as this will be used to shield the tunic from any food splash, sauce or spillages.
Pumps whilst footwear is generally a more flexible option for the chef, it is recommended that non-slip comfortable shoes are worn. Ideally, these are smart pumps that have good grip, so as to avoid any falls on any spilled food, grease or water.
A typical tunic will be made of thick cotton, to protect the wearer from the heat of the stove or if any boiling liquids splash onto the chef. The buttons are made of the same cotton material, as plastic would melt and metal could heat and burn skin.
The tradition of wearing a chef uniform is believed to date back to a French chef, Marie-Antoine Careme, who also developed the concept of haute cuisine, whilst Escoffier brought the idea with him to London, where it was quickly popularised.
In recent years, alternative colours have been used, such as black, though this is typically only seen on television where it is meant to denote authority or a dark edge, such as with foulmouthed chef, Gordon Ramsay.
Chef uniforms are particularly important in helping to show expertise and high standards of the kitchen, and you will find that any truly devoted chef feels empowered and performs best in their uniform.