Chef’s Hats

Chef’s hats are another part of the overall chef’s uniform. Professional chefs wear hats for traditional, aesthetic, and hygienic reasons. Chef’s hats are either 100% cotton or are made from a blend of cotton and polyester, making them lightweight and breathable.

Styles of Chef’s Hats

Chef’s hats and headware is available in several different styles, from traditional to more basic, utilitarian styles.

La Torque

A traditional chef’s hat is called a toque (another French culinary term) or a toque blanche, which means “white hat.”

Torque Chef's HatThis type of hat is tall, round, and typically has no brim (or, at best, a very narrow brim). A toque is also pleated, with the number of vertical pleats — traditionally — being exactly 100. Pleating the cloth creates many folds in the hat, causing it to puff out at the top. It is said that the number of pleats on the torque corresponds to the idea that any chef worthy of the title could prepare an egg 100 different ways.

Modern versions of the toque are commonly made with fewer than 100 pleats. Some argue that this style of hat cannot authentically be called a toque, and instead refer to it as a standard “chef’s hat.” These hats tend to be floppier on the top, above the band, instead of extending out from the pleats into a puffed top, as with the toque.

Nowadays, most suppliers of chef’s uniforms sell a one-size-fits-most model of the torque which offers a Velcro or buckle closure in the back, thereby making the hat adjustable for maximum comfort. One brand of chef’s hats even makes the torque in what is called a “cool vent” style, allowing for increased air circulation, and lined inside with a sweatband.

Beanies, Stretch Caps, Head Wraps

Chef's Hat: BeanieMore practical hat styles for chefs include the beanie, the stretch cap, and the head wrap.

Chef's Hat: Head WrapThe beanie has a cylindrical shape, causing it to have straight sides and a flat top. A stretch cap, on the other hand, fits more snugly on the head, like a baseball cap without a brim. For a better and more comfortable fit, these styles have elastic around the base of the hat. Depending on the uniform supplier, the skull cap model of chef’s hat is either like the beanie or like the stretch cap.

Head wraps are similar to bandannas, in that they wrap around the top of the head and have longer flaps of fabric allowing them to be tied in the back. Typically, this model of headware also has a elastic band for a more snug fit, much like the previously mention hat styles.

Health and Sanitation

Chef’s hats are worn for practical and sanitary reasons: the hat keeps hair out of your face by covering your entire head. This also means that it helps to prevent stray hairs from falling onto your chef’s station or into the food you’re preparing.

One reason for having white chef’s hats — as well as white chef’s uniforms in general — is that it showed the cleanliness of the kitchen. In other words, given that food stains are easily visible on white uniforms, the color white is a constant reminder to the attention due to overall kitchen and work station cleanliness and sanitation.

Non-White Hats

Whereas traditionally, chef’s hats and uniforms are white, most hat styles are available in black as well. It is also not uncommon to find chef’s hats in a variety of other solid colors, in addition to being patterned with stripes or even chili peppers.