From the early days, wearing a chef’s hat (Toque) was de rigeur. Nowadays it’s hard to find a kitchen where the Head Chef, especially, wears one. There are of course many places that still train their staff to wear them. And they come in very different shapes and sizes; from Baseball caps to round caps, hairnets, bandannas, floppy ones, coloured ones, short ones and funky ones! Watch a TV programme with chefs cooking and chef’s hats area as scarce as a bacon sandwich in a Kosher kitchen! They were designed for two major reasons. Contrary to what you may think one of those was to keep the head cool but, probably more important, to prevent hair falling into the food.
Probably why nowadays most of the young chefs I know have shaven heads; while most of us are trying to hang on to ours, they shave their’s off! Others don’t bother. Have you ever seen the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Marcus Wareing or Marco Pierre White wearing one?
The point is, if I’m not mistaken, the health and hygiene laws in most countries insist that chefs wear head gear of some description. It is normally a prerequisite to obtain a licence.
Maybe ‘the times they are a changing’
I have to admit in my time as a trainee I had to wear one, but once I started out on my own the habit soon was broken.
If you ever find a hair in your food, you can always say to the waiter,”I take it your chefs don’t wear toques then?”
He might say “It could be yours Sir, our chefs are bald!”