It is not unusual to find people in a high position wearing uniforms that set them apart from all the rest. Certain accessories and embellishments are sometimes added to show where they are in a certain hierarchy as well. In some cases, badges and medals are worn to show that they are of a higher position over the rest of the people they are with. Yet in a lot of cases, it’s in the kind of headgear people wear that show their authority over the others. And when it comes to the kitchen, the hat says it all.
Why the Chef’s Hat was Invented
It’s clear who’s following orders, and who’s giving out the orders whenever you take a peek inside the kitchen. The chef’s hat has given the chef the authority over all the others in the kitchen for a long time, but there are quite a few stories going around as where it really came from and what main purpose it really served.
It is said that even before the 7th century, it was common for kings to be poisoned by the very people that cook their food. To effectively placate the chefs, they were made to wear special headgear to show that inside the kitchen, they ranked higher than everybody else.
It is also around this time that a lot of intellectuals were being persecuted. Being a chef meant that they had to learn how to read and write as they came up with new recipes and recorded them. This made them part of the groups of people being hunted down, which pushed them to run to the Greek Orthodox Church to seek refuge amongst the monks. To make it even easier to hide, they also wore the same thing that the monks were wearing, which included the monk’s cap. This eventually evolved to become one of the earliest versions of the chef’s hat.
Yet another story about King Henry finding hair in his soup has been going around for years, although it has not been proven to be fact or fiction. Because of this incident, it is said that the person responsible was executed, which paved the way for the chef to start wearing headgear that prevented their hair from falling into the food they were cooking.
What do the Aspects of the Chef’s Hat Stand For?
White is the color of choice when it comes to the chef’s hat simply because it is a clear symbol of cleanliness. This is, of course, a very important factor when it comes to the kitchen.
The height showed what the person’s rank in the kitchen is. Obviously, the chef had the highest headgear among all the people in the kitchen, followed by his assistant.
As for the pleats, these signify the amount of knowledge that a chef has. Every time a new learning or experience is added to a chef’s list of knowledge, another pleat is added. It is said that a certain chef even had a hundred pleats on his hat, just because he knew how to prepare eggs a hundred ways.
Are you a chef? I your own opinion, what does your hat represent?