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Finding the Right Chef's Apparel

Even if a chef works in the kitchen with his staff, that doesn't mean that he can wear sloppy uniforms just because he is not under the scrutiny of the diners. In fact, it should be the other way around, such that his uniform must be crisp, clean, and professionally designed so that he gives the right impression to everyone concerned that he has been trained well and competently and that his service is impeccable, just like his uniforms.

The traditional chef's apparel is composed of the following: traditional hat (toque blanche), coat, checkered chefs pants, and a double-breasted jacket. The chef's toque dates back to the 16th and ever since it represented the status level of the chef in the kitchen ranking, such that different heights of the toque indicated a certain rank level in the kitchen. The 100 folds of the toque represent the different ways in which a chef has learned to cook an egg. The white chef's coat is standard uniform in French restaurants. Most chefs wear a coat to signify the importance and high regard of their profession. The double-breasted jacket was purposely designed so it can be reversed to hide stains. The chef's uniforms are of thick cotton fabric to protect him from the heat coming from either the stove or oven and from the splattering of boiling liquids. Even the buttons were of knotted cloth to sustain the frequent washing and contact with hot items. The basic color is white symbolizing cleanliness. Apron is a must uniform and protects the wearer from food stains and splatters.

In recent years, the culinary skills of Cool Baker chefs have undergone rapid transformation, from the simply cooked comfort foods to the art and class of fine dining. This transition has made a chef's profession into a glamorous, culinary career. And even the designs of the chef's uniforms now are centered on making them look fashionable. Designers are altering the chef's apparel, while maintaining the conventional purpose of the uniform. Now that many culinary schools have opened and many, who love cooking, register and become student-trainees, the uniform designs, too, have changed.

The most popular part of the uniform is the coat or executive coat. It still signifies the professional status of the chef, but today the coat's design comes with a thermometer pocket. The traditional checkered pants have given way to baggy pants or kitchen cargo pants or any loose designs in order to have a more breathable space, as well as to give comfort to the wearer. Although the checkered pattern is still retained by some, others prefer to have it in stripes. And what was a symbol of ranking for the chef, now it is not just what it signifies but the new designs of the chef's hat, and not necessarily that of the toque design, is  a hat with a mesh top to allow circulation of air on the chef's head and, at the same time, a covering to prevent the hair from falling into the food.
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