When you think of a chef uniform, you might imagine a solid white jacket paired with a tall white hat and chequered trousers. Signifying status and influence, this uniform originated in 1878 when the famous Parisian chef, Auguste Escoffier, standardised the uniform in his Brigade De Cuisine culinary school. This was a uniform that was soon copied worldwide.
Escoffier’s uniform has remained essentially unchanged to this day, demonstrating just how practical the design is. Chef uniforms have to be comfortable, keep their wearer cool in the heat of the kitchen, be durable to last across lengthy shifts and keep the wearer protected from hazards, so they have a lot of functionality to get right.
Below are the top five items that every modern-day chefs uniform should comprise and the top things to consider when choosing them.
Every chef uniform should begin with a well-fitting chef’s jacket. From amateur home cook to Head Chef at a top hotel, every level of chef needs a jacket that protects their torso from hot spills and stops any stray hairs from getting into their food.
When selecting a jacket, chefs might look for one that offers moisture-wicking. This material brings moisture to the surface so it can evaporate quickly. Functionality that helps to keep the wearer cooler and drier in the high temperatures of the kitchen.
Chefs could also look for a jacket made from a cotton/polyester blend fabric. This will provide the breathability of natural cotton with the strength of synthetic polyester. Fabric such as this ensures the jacket is comfortable over long shifts and durable for years to come.
After a suitable chef jacket has been chosen, all chefs should next look for matching trousers. These should ideally be made from the same polyester/cotton mix material to ensure the entire uniform provides the same level of breathability and comfort.
As their work requires long periods of standing up, chefs should prioritise comfort with their trousers. Look for trousers with an elasticated waist, as they’ll allow the most ease of movement and be the most accommodating to wear over long periods.
In terms of features, chefs might prefer trousers with several pockets so they can easily keep their most important, non-culinary utensils within easy reach. Chefs could also choose trousers with a tea towel loop to make sure they always have a cloth close to hand to wipe down dishes for a finishing touch.
An essential part of any chef’s uniform is the hat, as it makes sure any stray hairs remain far away from all dinner plates. The stereotypical tall chef’s hat has recently given way to shorter caps, as they’re more practical and comfortable to wear.
Chefs often prefer a cap that is adjustable to all sizes of heads, as it guarantees a suitable fit with room for adjustments. Any chefs cap should be washable to at least 60ºC so it can be thoroughly cleaned after each shift.
An often overlooked feature of chef’s uniforms is safety shoes, but they are an essential element. The kitchen can be a dangerous place due to heavy utensils and deliveries that can easily fall over onto people’s feet. By choosing steel toe cap shoes that offer the correct level of protection, chefs can make sure they prevent themselves from sustaining an injury.
Another feature chefs could look for in safety shoes is a sole that offers enough grip. With spillages likely in the kitchen, chefs should choose shoes that provide great grip and grip on oily surfaces.
The final element chefs could look for to complete their uniform is the waist apron. This adds extra protection from spillages at work surface level and helps to make trousers and jackets more long-lasting. In addition, chefs might prefer to choose a waist apron that offers several pockets for added functionality to store items such as pens and notepads in them easily.
While there’s a lot to think about when it comes to selecting chef uniforms, by choosing items that are durable, comfortable, practical and offer the right level of protection, any chef will have made a good investment.