Rwanda : Why chefs wear white robes and long hats
A kitchen of every restaurant or hotel has chefs/cooks that wear white double breasted jackets and tall white hats while they go around with their work.
In Rwanda, cleanliness in restaurants and hotels is observed as white starts in the kitchen and goes even to store keepers in some hotels. Even people who deal in food stuffs outside those places are always seen in white clothing.
Everybody wants cleanliness in their houses, compounds, roads and other areas what about the food that goes into our bodies?
“White uniform in the kitchen portrays cleanliness and white hats are worn to prevent falling hair, dandruffs and sweat to drop into the food while cooking or serving,” explains Agatha, a cook in one of the restaurants in Nyarutarama-Rwanda.
To her, when food spills on the coat, it is changed meaning cleanliness is maintained especially in the kitchen where food; that provides energy to our health is prepared from.
White garments have something to do with the history of chefs clothing which dates back to the mid-19th century. Marie-Antoine Careme, a popular French chef, who is credited with developing the current chef’s uniform, chose white for the chef’s coat to signify cleanliness.
The chef’s hat dates back to the 16th century, when hats were common in many trades. Different heights of hats sometimes indicate rank within a kitchen. Legend has it that some hats (toque) have 100 folds which are said to represent the many different ways a chef knows to cook an egg.
However, the designs of the hat are diverse and as long as it’s a white hat covering the cooks head, the uniform is worn and purpose served.
The white chef’s coat is standard and considered part of a traditional uniform and as a practical chef’s garment. It is said most serious chefs wear white coats to signify the importance and high regard of their profession.
However, design changes and some cooks put on simple white garments instead of double breasted jackets but still meet the purpose, which is cleanliness.
The double breasted jacket can be reversed to hide stains. Its thick cotton cloth protects from the heat of stove and oven and protects from splattering of boiling liquids. That’s why aprons are used to shield the rest of the cooks or chefs garments from food splatters and stains.