There’s a Word for That: Toque

atkins-bookshelf-wordsWalk into any restaurant kitchen and you can immediately spot the chef — he or she is the person who is proudly wearing the traditional white double-breasted jacket, black-and-white checkered pants, and of course, the white pleated hat, the chef’s hat, or more formally known as a toque. “Toque” is the Breton (a Celtic language originating in north-west France in the early Middle Ages) word for “hat.” The word is pronounced “tock.” Although the term toque first appears in the early 1500s, historians believe that chefs have been wearing toques as early as 7 AD in Greece. The hat is rich with symbolism: its height designates rank within the kitchen staff; the 100 folds represent the 100 ways an egg can be cooked, and the color white conveys the chef’s professionalism and cleanliness.

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For further reading:
A Pageant of Hats, Ancient and Modern by Ruch Kilgour (1958)

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