The Chefs’ Forum Talks Uniform with Chefworks
The chef’s jacket, or coat, has a long history dating back to the forefather of modern cuisine Marie-Antoine Carême in the early 19th Century. Carême was the Masterchef of his day and reinvented the way chefs dressed and appeared. His chosen colour was white symbolising hygiene and perfection and the jacket was double-breasted and borrowed from military jackets of the period as well as providing an extra layer of protection from spillages and steam. Kitchens in those days were very hot.
Today, the chef’s jacket has evolved into a new form. The Chefs’ Forum spoke to front and back of house uniform manufacturer Chef Works to learn more about what is de-rigour these days.
TCF: How have chef’s uniforms changed in recent years?
CW: Traditional designs have double breasted fronts which not only have a classical, elegant look but have a practical purpose of doubling the protection and swapping over when stained during service. The theory is the heavier the material the greater the coverage from hot spills, however the trend and preference for many chefs today is lightweight coats and short sleeves. This choice not only comes from a more relaxed attitude in many properties to skin art (and there are many fantastic examples), but also to a move towards comfort, flexibility and breathability. Many of our designs nod towards sportswear with their stretch and our award-winning Cool Vent fabrics.
TCF: What’s in fashion at the moment?
CW: There will always be a wish for a refined look and we have many elegant chef coats that fit this need. Today’s relaxed dining and many open kitchens has created a need for uniform to tell a story and integrate from the back-of-house through to the front-of-house. Chef Works Urban and Contemporary collections fall into this category of quality, creative designs that are fit-for-purpose yet cool and comfortable to wear during a long service. Aprons play a huge part. Spend on a quality apron that completes the look of your property. They can easily give the finishing touch to a brand and we can customise with the brand logo. Our new additions to our apron collection are being really well received. The Largo and Seattle are set to be firm favourites alongside the Brio Chef Apron.
TCF: Are you back up and running after the lockdown?
CW: We continue to operate through these very challenging times and our full team are on hand to offer the best service possible. Our range is broad with pricing fair and affordable. As hospitality opens and strengthens, we are seeing a lot of positive stories and activity. During lockdown we launched our transactional website alongside our Amazon store, both of which operate in parallel to our sales and customer support team who are getting busier by the day with meeting requests increasing.
TCF: Have changes to eating out also changed attitudes to uniforms?
CW: We have seen an uplift on sets. Staff are changing their uniforms more regularly from a hygiene perspective. We have also launched a collection of face coverings as there is an expectation that those working with and serving food and drinks are taking care to be covered and ultra-hygienic. Our face coverings have been developed for service. They wear and wash well, are comfortable to wear (different options available) and tone well with our wider uniform offerings, so they do not daunting to look at, but fit in well with modern hospitality.
TCF: What are chefs saying about your uniforms?
CW: We get a lot of feedback from our chefs. Here’s a couple of recent testimonials
“Without a doubt the Hartford long sleeved chef jacket – It’s the best jacket I have ever owned. I loved it so much that I have just supplied our whole team with embroidered Hartford jackets from Chef Works. They are very comfortable, breezy and very practical too.” Chef Calum Montgomery, Edinbane Lodge, Skye
“I love my Chef Works Galveston cross-back apron just because of the cool design and the useful pockets. Plus it’s easy-to-clean and keeps its great quality.” Chef Stu Deeley, MasterChef Professional Champion 2019.
If you have a uniform requirement or would like to meet in person to discuss your needs and review samples call 0113 256 8677 where our customer support team will be on hand to arrange.