If there is one thing about this festive season in RWS that I simply cannot escape, it’s the delicious smell of Christmas goodies – savoury dishes, sweet cakes, mouth-watering pastries… Oh I can wax lyrical about it all day. So it’s only fitting that I help you identify the creators of these delicious smells, and recognize that not all chefs do the same job.
It takes a keen eye to pick out the differences among some of the uniforms. All chefs wear a hat, double-breasted jacket, an apron, houndstooth trousers and shoes with steel / plastic toe-caps or clogs. The difference lies in their hats and jackets:
Some of you might wonder why there is a distinction in the hats. Common sense would probably tell you that the taller the hat is, the higher the chef’s rank in the kitchen; and you’d be right. But did you know how the chef’s hat came to be? And did you know that officially, the chef’s hat is called a toque (a french word, pronounced “tock“)?
Chefs and kitchen cooks had a long history of hat-wearing, most notably to keep stray and errant hair in place and away from where they shouldn’t be, i.e. your food. The fabled story of a 16th century english royal chef who was executed because King HenryVIII found a hair in his soup probably cemented the practice. Macabre stories aside, it was Marie Antoine Careme, known as the “King of Chefs, and the Chef of Kings “, who created the modern day toque.
The different heights usually indicate hierarchy in the kitchen, with bakers and sauce chefs wearing a little more than a cap and head chefs wearing towering white toppers. The number pleats in the white hats are meant to reflect the number of ways a chef can cook an egg. This may not be the standard now, but regardless I’m sure we can agree that the more pleats there are, the more decorated the chef looks.
Careme also standardized the double breasted jackets, which are (of course) double breasted and white for a reason. White and pristine jackets convey the image of cleanliness, so if the jackets are stained during the course of manic cooking, the chef simply has to unbutton and relayer the front. And voila, clean jacket!
So now that you know a little more about the chef’s uniform, see if you can count the number of pleats on a chef’s hat the next time you spot one around the resort.
We can safely say that he/she could probably cook eggs in at least five different ways.