One of the greatest attributes about working in a kitchen the tradition that has come before you, years and years of it. It’s part of what makes your craft of being a chef so incredible. When you step behind the line of a kitchen, you are becoming part of a historical traditional that dates back over 2,000 years.
In The Beginning
Legend has it that even earlier than the seventh century A.D, that chefs in Assyria wore crown-like hats that differentiated them from other kitchen help. Why? It seems that kings were being poisoned by indignant chefs, so in order to appease them and make them feel special, they were presented with a unique piece of headgear. Hoping this would stop the poisoning.
At this same time chefs spent a great deal of time reading and learning new recipes and techniques. Since so few people at the time could read, chefs were considered educated men. Unfortunately, being smart wasn’t the popular choice for the time and many intellectuals were persecuted. Chefs then sought refuge in the Greek Orthodox Church, were they donned the wardrobe of the monks, wearing robes and caps. Those caps later progressed into an early version of the chef hat or Torque, which is Arabic for hat and later on to the Torque Blanch meaning white hat.
Fact or Fiction?
A tale from Henry the VIII’s era (16th century)
claimed that –
King Henry found a strand of hair in his soup, and the king, literally called for the Chefs head ! The chef who owned the hair, a cook, was beheaded, and his replacement was politely requested to wear a hat to prevent this further issue, the birth of Chefs wearing head gear.
From the techniques used to prepare dishes to the uniforms chefs wear today, everything has a history, a purpose and is part of a long standing tradition.