Cooking professionally involves following strict traditions, discipline, and maintaining a high order level. One of these long-standing traditions is the ‘Culinary Brigade system’, also known as the ‘Kitchen Brigade’ or ‘Brigade de Cuisine’. The renowned French Chef Georges Auguste Escoffier created this hierarchical organisational structure, and it has been utilised in professional kitchens for many years with great success.
Within this system, each role in the kitchen hierarchy comes with unique responsibilities and a corresponding dress code. The attire worn by kitchen staff serves multiple purposes – it denotes their position, ensures safety, and maintains hygiene standards. Let’s look into the dress code of each role within the culinary brigade.
The Top Brass: Head Chef (Chef de Cuisine)
The executive Chef, also known as the Chef de Cuisine, is at the height of the kitchen hierarchy. As the leading figure, the chefs uniform is distinctive and easily recognisable. They traditionally wear a double-breasted white chef’s jacket adorned with the restaurant’s logo and their name. This ensemble is usually paired with black or checkered trousers. They wear a toque – a tall, round, pleated white hat to symbolise their status. Safety is paramount, so the Executive Chef always wears closed-toe, non-slip shoes.
The Second-In-Command: Sous Chef
One of the critical roles in the kitchen is that of a Sous Chef, who assumes the duties of an Executive Chef in their absence. The Sous Chef’s attire is quite similar to that of the Executive Chef, sporting a double-breasted white jacket, checkered pants, and a toque. Yet, the Sous Chef’s toque may be slightly smaller than the Executive Chef, reflecting their ranks within the kitchen hierarchy.
The Specialised Staff: Chef de Partie (Line Cook)
Within the confines of a professional kitchen, a highly organised team of Chef de Parties work tirelessly to ensure that each dish is perfectly crafted. Each individual oversees a designated station, the grill or the sauté. To distinguish themselves from one another, each Chef wears a pristine double-breasted jacket in either white or a colour that symbolises their specific station. These jackets are often paired with checkered pants, adding an element of stylish flair to the ensemble. As for headwear, chefs can opt for a traditional toque or a snug-fitting skull cap, allowing them to work comfortably and efficiently for hours on end.
The Budding Talent: Commis Chef
The role of a “Commis” refers to a budding chef who works under the guidance of a Chef de Partie. It is an esteemed position reserved for individuals with exceptional promise and talent. The dress code for a Commis is relatively simple, requiring them to wear a white, single-breasted jacket and checkered trousers. Their headwear options include a skull cap or a beanie-style cap. This attire ensures they maintain a professional appearance while working in the kitchen.
The Unsung Heroes: Kitchen Porter/Kitchen Assistant
Kitchen Porters or assistants play a crucial role in the kitchen, performing various essential tasks that keep the kitchen running smoothly. Their duties include cleaning, dishwashing, and essential food preparation. On duty, they typically wear a durable and straightforward tunic-style top paired with plain pants for comfort and ease of movement. They often wear baseball caps or beanies to cover their heads and prevent stray hairs from falling into the food. These hardworking individuals are vital to any kitchen team, ensuring that everything runs efficiently and hygienically.
The Sweet Makers: Pastry Chef
The esteemed role of the Pastry Chefs entails the creation of delectable baked goods and pastries. It is customary for them to sport a uniform akin to the Chef de Partie, except for a distinguished white neckerchief that sets them apart and adds a touch of refinement to their appearance.
In professional kitchens, the dress code for the kitchen brigade system serves a greater purpose than just appearance. It ensures efficiency, safety, hygiene, and honours tradition. The next time you see a chef wearing a double-breasted jacket and toque, you’ll understand the significance of their attire.