Kitchen uniforms are essential features in the food industry.
It serves a utilitarian function as well as a representation of the trade. In particular, a chef’s uniform, sometimes referred to as the chef whites, whether on your staff or short-term hire chefs, helps to emphasise the pristine image associated with this respectable profession. White chef uniform is the most formal and traditional, but formal attire can also be black or any colour.
The roles of the chef’s uniform are as follow:
1. Protection from injury and food contamination
Kitchens are busy, hot and dangerous places to work with. Chefs are constantly exposed to hot ovens, open fires, and sharp knives. Even for the most experienced chefs, the proper uniform can help prevent injury by protecting them from burns, cuts and more. Their uniform can help them hygienically prepare food and prevent foreign objects from falling into it.
The risk of accident is high in any fast-paced commercial kitchen, so wearing the correct uniform will protect employees from blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals and much more. Every piece of clothing is constructed to prevent hot liquid and food from landing on the chef’s body and causing injury, including material of the buttons which are either plastic or metal since plastic could melt and metal could quickly become very hot.
2. Provide comfort while cooking
Kitchens can get hot, and wearing a uniform with the wrong non-absorbent materials or non-grip footgear can cause discomfort and distraction.
3. Food Hygiene
A person who works with food has a responsibility to ensure that the food they prepare is safe.
The uniform protects the customer and food; in other words, it contributes to good hygiene.
In high-end and high profile restaurants, a white chef uniform is typically required as it is considered a label of excellence. In terms of appearances, it can help establish confidence in guests when they see their food is prepared by chefs or cooks wearing clean and proper uniforms. People typically associate what a person wears to how they attend to things.
Here are the different items that make a chef’s uniform:
The toque is a large white hat that chefs use at formal events. It comes with a rich history, with the most popular theory being that it evolved from a crown given by the royal families to their chef.
Some chef hats are shorter but what’s common between the tall or short versions is that they have some space above the skull. This space allows both the body and kitchen heat to rise up and away from the chef’s head.
Modern chefs still wear hats, in part for cleanliness, to keep hair out of food. The material, typically made of cotton, is absorbent and helps catch any errant sweat droplets.
A chef jacket is a top with a double-breasted front that serves as a barrier between the skin and hot appliances or spillages and prevents burns. The long sleeves also help avoid injuries of heat which is common in commercial kitchens.
The most common and practical material used for chef jackets is 100%cotton for its breathability, although some makers use various technology that uses cotton, polyester, and 3% spandex for comfort.
Aside from the material that keeps the wearer comfortable, it is ideally in white to reflect the heat away from the chef’s body, and it lends the kitchen a clean appearance. It’s not unusual for that white to become spattered with food, of course, but it is easier to see spills and clean up bits of food that may have clung to the uniform.
The best pants for the jobs are the pairs that are breathable, comfortable and durable. Long shifts are bearable if pants do not restrict movement and the material absorbs sweat.
They are worn over the jacket to add an extra layer of protection against hot liquids, foods and equipment while making the wearer look professional. Especially if the design and material complement the style of the uniform, aprons can be designed either as a full apron or a half apron, even with pockets. Clean aprons can provide further protection for your customers by reducing the risk of food poisoning or injury.
Shoes may come as boots or clogs, as long as they are closed shoes by design. The best shoes to wear in commercial kitchens :
- are non-slip for stability on wet, oily floors
- protect the toes from the impact of falling, cutting or rolling items
- are padded to prevent friction or pressure blistering
- protect the feet from chemicals and heat
Many chefs can attest that shoes are arguably the most critical part of their ensemble. A fourteen to sixteen-hour shift on an uncomfortable pair of shoes can not only be painful but can cause them to injure themselves.
Protect hands from hot cookware when using ovens and other cooking equipment. The best oven gloves are heat resistant that allow the safe moving of hot trays, cookware, plates to and from the range without burning hands.
A good quality side towel is one of the kitchen’s most versatile and essential tools. It can be used to :
- serve as a potholder to grab hot pans, dishes, equipment
- dry hands
- wipe plates
- get a firm, safe grip on everything, warm, cold, sharp or slippery
- protect against splashes
- serve as a pot coaster to ensure a hot pot can stand on a surface without burning it
- provide anti-slip protection by placing under the cutting board, mortar, bowl etc.
- cover embarrassing flecks on the apron
- cover food as protection (rising bread etc.)
- may keep producing fresh when dampened)
- mop up the water, oil and juices instead of a paper towel (when truly needed)
- use it to make a bag, fling it to a surface to crush ice or crack open nuts
- stop bleeding and works excellent as a bandage. Make an ice pack with a towel to cool bruises and burns.
- clean up, as long as the towel is headed for the washing machine
Typically, towels come in white to quickly find stuff, such as food bits that stick to the towel. A good quality towel has a weave that doesn’t become ‘knotty’ after numerous washes. Some kitchens keep them in the fridge to be in a protected, hygienic and easily accessible place.
They are best kept dry as much as possible not to transfer heat when handling something hot.
Ideally, it is worn hanging from the waist either attached to the apron’s fastener or belt, so it’s within easy reach. A helpful trick is to tie a knot at one corner of the towel to stay put at the waist but is still easy to release. It should be changed frequently for sanitation purposes.
A chef’s uniform plays a vital role in the wearer’s function, comfort, and safety, leading to safer food and happier customers.
For chefs with both great attitude and seasoned work experience, call us at Anytime Chefs. We only work with qualified chefs with seven years of experience working autonomously. Let us help you take out the stress of running your business or your next event.
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,