One very instantly recognizable uniform is the chef’s uniform. The distinct chefs hat or toque, double breasted jacket and checkered trousers are easily identifiable and with the recent popularity in celebrity TV chefs, the recognizability has been pushed even further. One most distinct way of identifying a chef is by the toque or chefs hat. Even with varying colors or patterns of trousers and jackets, the hat is the single most distinguishing feature.
While no strict or stringent rules exist for the uniforms worn by chefs, a few common articles of clothing which serve several purposes are constant. The most widely used colors and textures are a pure white double breasted jacket and a checkered pattern, also known as hounds-tooth, for the trousers. The toque is always white and has always remained this way. One other important article of the uniform is the apron. The apron prevents stains of the chefs uniform from food splatters or spills.
The chefs uniforms are not there merely for show, however. They also serve to protect the wearer and also, in some cases, display rank. The double breasted jacket is made of very thick fabric that protects the chef from the high heat of the stoves that he works with. The long sleeves also protect from splattering of hot oil or the spills of hot liquids.
The jacket itself is reversible so that it can quickly be changed over to hide major spills or stains. The buttons on the jacket were traditionally made out of knotted cloth. This rendered the buttons more robust and capable of withstanding numerous washing cycles. This would also serve to prevent plastic buttons from melting or disfiguring for the heat. The checkered hounds-tooth chefs trousers were useful in hiding minor stains because of their capability of camouflaging minor stains. As with the jackets, the trousers are also made to withstand heat and flame.
The chefs hat or toque is used to denote the rank of the chef. This is signified by the height of the hat itself. Another interesting feature of the chefs hat is the number of pleats it has. Supposed to denote how many ways a chef can cook an egg, the pleats on the toque usually number one hundred.
Some chefs have personalized their chefs uniforms by adding colors and patterns or changes in design. Traditionally, however, the chefs uniforms traditional white and patterned are widely used and accepted the world over.