Chef Hats - A Tall Nod to Tradition
The image that springs to mind for most of us when we think of a chef, before we even consider food, is that of a tall white hat, or toque blanche.
It is believed that the wearing of a toque began in the early 1700’s and originated from the cloth or stocking caps worn by French chefs of the time. The colour of the casque à mèche, (cloth hat) worn signified the rank of the wearer. It was when a chef by the name Boucher, the personal cook to the first French prime minister, Monsieur Talleyrand, insisted all hats be white to symbolise cleanliness, that the colour was standardised.
A few years later, legendary chef of the day, Marie-Antoine Carême began to wear a hat in the now famous style. With the wearing of the taller hat and the popularity of Carême, it became commonplace in the kitchens of hotels, restaurants and the ‘nouveau riche’ of Paris. The tradition was then brought to London by French chef Georges Auguste Escoffier during his reign at renowned restaurants at the Savoy and Carlton Hotels. Its popularity soon spread worldwide.
Historically, the more senior the chef, the higher the hat. It is rumoured that Marie-Antoine Careme’s hat was 18 inches high and needed to be reinforced with cardboard to keep it standing to attention. How much truth is in this, we will never know!
Like hat height, traditionally the more pleats in a chef’s hat, the greater their experience. It was said that if a chef had 100 pleats in their hat, they could prepare eggs in a hundred different ways.
Chefs’ toques are traditionally made from pleated cloth which must be starched to make it stand tall and, while some still favour these, today many opt for the more practical and modern choice of a high quality non - woven fabric.
QAR’s Universal non-woven pleat print chef hats are a 7.5 inch nod to tradition - reusable for several days, soft and absorbent, tear resistant even in high humidity, offer good air permeability, and are fully adjustable. They comply with food and trade industry standards and maintain the upmarket appearance of the traditional toque blanche, offering a more economical and user-friendly option.
Place your order - keep your kitchen traditional, yet modern, with the benefits of modern technology.
By Tara Gibson