As part of a restaurant's dress code, chef hats are an important article of clothing to ensure sanitation in the kitchen and complete a chef's uniform. This guide will take you through the different types of chef hats and their purposes, from the traditional toque to an informal chef cap, so you can choose the best chef hats and headwear for your staff.
Chef hats are a type of hair restraint that are worn by chefs and cooks. While some chef hats are used to denote such as seniority in the kitchen, others serve a strictly functional role. Read on to learn more about the 9 different types of chef hats to decide which is best for your needs.
A toque chef hat is the most traditional of all chef's hats. It can look one of two different ways - either with a straight-sided base and a floppy, pleated top that comes in a variety of colors or as a tall, stiff, and pleated hat that is white. Traditionally, a toque hat is a symbol of seniority in the kitchen and is typically worn by the executive chef.
A chef skull cap, or pill box cap, is tight-fitting and lightweight, with many featuring a mesh top for enhanced air circulation in hot kitchens. It is less formal than a toque chef hat, yet still provides a professional, clean-cut look amongst kitchen staff, making it a great choice for modern and trendy eateries.
A chef beanie is a more informal type of chef headwear. It has a looser fit in comparison to a chef skull cap while remaining snug and flat to the head. The beanie is ideal for more casual eateries looking to supply their kitchen with comfortable, uniform headwear.
A baseball chef cap helps cover staff members' hair and keep an informal, yet professional appearance amongst your staff. They are made with absorbent and breathable materials that ensure comfort throughout long shifts. Their wide brims shade and protects eyes from bright overhead lighting or direct sunlight for added convenience.
Chef berets offer a similar European style as the toque chef hat, but with less body to them. They are lightweight and feature small holes around the sides to keep the user cool while in a hot kitchen. Their design provides all-day comfort while helping to provide a clean, professional look.
Chef bandanas and neckerchiefs absorb sweat to help staff stay cool in warm kitchens. Tie as a neckerchief to prevent sweat from dripping from the neck, or as a bandana to cover hair or protect the forehead from dripping sweat. While using it as a bandana presents as a more casual form of chef headwear, using it as a neckerchief can add a layer of sophistication and function to your chef's uniform.
Chef headwraps are made with lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking fabric to ensure comfort throughout long shifts. Designed to provide comfort and function for chefs, headwraps are a great alternative to a traditional chef hat.
Chef headbands keep hair out of the face while cooking and are made with moisture-wicking fabric to absorb sweat. Many chef headbands can be used in multiple ways in addition to a traditional headband, including a do-rag, wrist band, hair tie, neck gaiter, or even a face mask.
Chef visors are made with lightweight, absorbent materials to keep your staff cool and typically include a sweatband on the inside to help keep sweat off their faces. Visors are an informal type of chef hat and are a great choice for casual eateries and fast food. They can also help protect from sun glare, making them great for food truck operators, barbecue pit masters, and outdoor caterers.
To comply with health codes, chefs and other kitchen staff members wear hats to prevent hair and sweat from contaminating food. Not only does it help with hygiene and comfort, but it also establishes a professional, uniform look in your back-of-house.
Most modern kitchens today will opt for more informal or functional styles of chef hats to ensure their staff is kept cool and comfortable during their shifts. However, many fine-dining restaurant and hotel chefs will still wear the toque chef hat to keep the traditional, uniform look of a skilled chef and demonstrate their level of experience and expertise.
Traditionally, the height of a chef’s hat denotes their experience and rank in the kitchen. Thus, the executive chef wears the tallest hat in the kitchen, and then the hats get shorter as you go down the hierarchy.
The origin of the number of pleats in a chef hat is similar to the height of a chef hat. When the toque hat was first created, it was said that the number of pleats in the chef's hat represented how many techniques or recipes that chef had mastered. For example, if the hat had 100 pleats, then that chef had mastered 100 recipes. In modern days, the number of pleats is generic and does not represent anything other than keeping the traditional look of the toque.
Two popularly-told stories highlight the main purpose of the chef hat's creation, which was to prevent cross-contamination from chef to food and establish a professional uniform.
According to one origin story, King Henry VIII required his chef and those who prepared his food to cover their heads after finding hair in his soup one day.
The popularization of the white toque hat in culinary tradition can be attributed to Marie Antoine-Carême, a French pastry chef from the 1800s. However, it wasn't until famed French chef, Aguste Escoffier, created an elevated look for trained chefs that included the tall, white, and pleated toque hat. Escoffier argued that chefs should wear professional uniforms, which included hats that varied in length to signify rank and easily identify positions within the kitchen brigade.Back to Top
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