The word chef typically conjures up a visual of someone dressed in pristine whites, perhaps with a puffy hat on their head. Even the Muppets’ Swedish Chef gets this gear, although we can’t understand what he says!
The “toque blanche” is thought to be an evolution of the headgear cooks wore throughout the centuries. The idea that the hat ought to be white is thought to have originated with Boucher, personal chef to the French statesman Talleyrand. The different heights of the hat can represent rank in the kitchen, while the 100 folds in the toque are said to represent the many ways a chef can cook an egg.
Today, Boucher’s call for the more sanitary white hat has led to kitchen staff in the Western world typically wearing “chef’s whites.” This will often include a double-breasted jacket of thick cotton cloth which protects the cook from the heat of the stove or oven or any boiling liquids.