The Uniform

Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About

Worldwide, all professional cooks dress alike. Starting at the top with a toque, or chef’s hat (a tall, often disposable, paper, pleated, or plain hat), down to the highly polished black leather shoes to protect from spills, the chef’s dress code is standard. The complete uniform is always a double-breasted white jacket, a neckerchief tied neatly around the neck to absorb perspiration, a white apron tied to the front with a thick, absorbent towel (to grasp hot pans and dishes) tucked into the ties, and black-and-white houndstooth cotton or cotton-poly blend pants. Since kitchen chores allow the uniform to get increasingly soiled as the day progresses, the Head Chef or Chef-Owner will always have a fresh jacket to wear when appearing in the dining room or other public spaces. With the more relaxed climate of recent years, some chefs who work in their own kitchens will be found in brightly colored pants and extravagantly embroidered jackets as well as clogs or other utilitarian shoes. In an even more relaxed atmosphere, chefs’ uniforms are also being worn by home cooks, probably as much for their convenience as for the feeling of professionalism that they impart. No matter how styles have changed, the entire brigade in a large hotel kitchen anywhere in the world still wears the standard-issue uniform. Tradition is important in the professional kitchen.