A chef’s hat is known as the “toque” in French and it usually has exactly 100 folds. According to reports that number was no mistake and it serves a very important purpose. Keep reading to find out what it is.
Some say that the folds on a chef's toque represent the many ways you can prepare an egg. To understand what this means, it is necessary to shed more light on the origins of chef toques.
It is a little hard to pinpoint the origin of chef hats because history is quite fuzzy where their roots are concerned. There is a tale that involves Greek chefs running from Byzantine invaders around 146 BCE. These chefs took refuge in monasteries where they were able to blend in because of the tall hats the monks wore.
After the need to wear the disguise faded, the chefs kept wearing the hats as a fraternal kind of clothing. In the 1800s, the hat had become a common sight and it was linked to a belief that claimed the white colour symbolizes cleanliness.
This idea was propagated by the first French prime minister, Charles Talleyrand’s chef. In the early days of French food culture, the number of pleats was supposed to signify the number of recipes a chef had mastered. A hat with 100 pleats was proof of your mastery as a chef.
The same idea applied to the tallness of the hat. The more height a chef’s hat had, the more knowledgeable the chef was. Chefs with towering hats were usually superior figures in kitchens. Although that is less true these days as the importance of a chef's toque has become diminished, they still remain a symbol of devotion to the age-old craft of cooking.