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A classic chef’s uniform has several components, each of which has a specific form and function.A double-breasted white jacket made of heavy white cotton acts as insulation against the intense heat from stoves and ovens and protection against hot liquids or spattering hot oil. The jacket has knotted cloth buttons that withstand frequent washing better than plastic or wooden buttons. Since there are two rows of buttons, the chef can re-button the double-breasted jacket to hide the stained part.
The pants are black (common for executive chefs) or have a black-and-white pattern that hides food stains.
A white neckerchief is knotted in the front and was originally designed to absorb perspiration in the days before air conditioning. Chefs continue to wear neckerchiefs to keep tradition and finish the look of their uniforms.
A tall white hat called a “toque” was first worn in the 16th century, when chefs, like many artisans, often had to hide in monasteries to avoid being persecuted for being too “creative”! In those days, the toques were just like ones that monks wore, only they were gray to make them different from the monks’ black hats.
A 19th-century French chef redesigned chef’s uniforms to be white for cleanliness and in different heights to reflect the status and experience level of the chef, with numerous pleats to reflect the more than 100 ways a chef can cook an egg.