You know those weird chefs’ hats? Well, believe it or not, the many-pleated, towering chefs’ hat (called a “toque”) actually makes a lot of sense. The height provides an airspace to cool the head - important when you’re standing over a hot stove.

Until about 1840, most chefs in France wore a beret or a skullcap to prevent hair from falling into the food. In England, a chef would often wear a thick black cap to prevent his head from being burned while carrying roasting pans to the table on it.

Georges Auguste Escoffier introduced the idea of wearing hats of varying sizes to indicate the ranking of chefs. These days, the measurements used are:

  • 12 inches for a top chef
  • 8 inches for an apprentice
I’ve often wondered how they keep them clean. And just how do you iron a hat with 100 pleats? So I /msg’d sensei about this the other day and he said, “Oh, those things. They’re made out of paper these days.”

Toque (?), n. [F. toque; of Celtic origin; cf. W.toc.]

1.

A kind of cap worn in the 16th century, and copied in modern fashions; -- called also toquet.

His velvet toque stuck as airily as ever upon the side of his head.
Motley.

2. Zool.

A variety of the bonnet monkey.

 

© Webster 1913.

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