There are a lot of things that we don’t know when it comes to the life of chefs. For example, you may be unaware of the reasoning behind their towering hats. Did you know that these hats come with 100 folds? If you already knew about this, you probably did not know the actual reasoning behind it.
As always, there is a method to the madness. Anyone who knows a chef personally is well aware of that. The good folks at Bon Appétit are offering an explanation, though. The chef’s hat has 100 folds because this is the number of ways that an egg can be prepared. Silly us, we had no idea. Who knew that an egg could be prepared in so many different ways?
Chefs are wizards, aren’t they? In order to dig further into the mythology behind these hats, we need a bit of a history lesson. One of the most often circulated tales focuses on Greek chefs of yore. Back in 146 BCE, chefs were forced to hide from the invaders of the Byzantine. In order to remain safe, they had to blend in with the monks at the monasteries. The towering hats were the best way for them to do so.
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Why do chefs wear those tall hats? The toque as we know it today become commonplace when the legendary French chef Marie-Antoine Carême began wearing one in the early 1800s (he’s largely credited with standardizing the chef’s uniform), and Auguste Escoffier brought it to London later in the century. Different heights indicate rank within a kitchen (the head chef’s toque is the tallest), and the many folds are said to be symbolic of the many ways to cook an egg. @paulbocuse_officiel poses in his kitchen at L’Auberge de Pont de Collonges in 2012. #paulbocuse #paulbocuse_officiel #mof #chefstory #chefhats #chefuniform #kitchentradition #chefstoque #frenchchefs #marieantoinecarême #symbolic #cheftalk #mrpaulbocuse #chefskillshk #morethankitchen
Once the need for hiding was over, the chefs continued to wear hats as a means of signifying their bond with one another. By the time the 1800s rolled around, the hats started to take on a different sort of significance. They were utilized in the kitchen because the color white was believed to symbolize the proper level of cleanliness.
Charles Talleyrand was the first prime minister in the nation of France. He’s responsible for spreading the idea when he chose his first chef. The number of pleats in the hat represented the number of methods that the chef had for preparing certain meals. Those who had 100 pleats in their hat were considered to be master chefs and were treated as such.
The taller the hat, the more the chef knew about the foods that they were preparing. Marie Antoine Carême is one of the major pioneers of the chef community. It is said that she wore a hat that stood so tall, it needed support to stand upright. These hats do not always find their way into the modern kitchen but chefs are still well aware of their cultural significance. They are truly masters of their art.SKM: below-content placeholder