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Culinary Uniforms – Why Do Chefs Wear White Coats?

A great way for your restaurant kitchen to have a professional look is the wearing of chef uniforms, with all their frenzied cutting and frying while rushing to complete a customer’s order. Imagine the look of your favorite cooking shows while your famous chefs prepare some delectable meal. In the eyes of a spectator, the frenetic dash of activities of individuals in white seems so fascinating and more appealing as compared to not wearing any uniform at all.

But why does a chef wear a white coat? What is the purpose behind a chef’s white culinary uniform?

chef in coat and hat in kitchen preparing food with fireThe traditional chef’s uniform, also known as chef’s whites, is the standard uniform in the Western World. It includes a white hat or toque blanche, white double-breasted coat, and a black and white patterned pants. The clothing originated in 1822 when Marie-Antoine Careme, a French artist and chef, made a preliminary design called “Le Maitre d’Hotel Francais.” Portrayed in the drawing are two chefs wearing a white hat, double-breasted jacket, trousers, and an apron. The “uniform” however only become popular in the culinary world around 1878.

The color white is deliberately chosen for the overall chef’s uniform. It is to give the gourmet cook and all other staff in the kitchen a semblance of power and influence since white is a highly effective symbol of cleanliness and flawlessness. However, this is not the only reason why chefs wear white coats. There are two significant aspects of cooking in white on which your favorite chefs depend.

First, the hue or tone of the color white is good at deflecting heat, which provides the chef and all other staff additional safeguard against open fire, stoves and other heated appliances in the kitchen. The second advantage for the chef’s white coat is the belief that white is associated with cleanliness and sanitary conditions. Certainly not that it is the most efficient color for camouflaging unfortunate food stains.

The double-breasted design of the chef’s coat, two rows of buttons designed down the front, also has a functional purpose. After all the splatters and stains of preparing your multi-course connoisseur meal, the chef has the option to unbutton his coat and just reverse it to hide the spots and spills when they are required to receive kind comments on their patrons’ meals. The chef’s appearance of being neat and clean is maintained despite all the messy dishes, gravies and other food that stains when prepared in the kitchen.

An authentic chef coat includes cloth buttons and even that serves its purpose. The double-knotted cloth buttons in the double-breasted chef jacket are used because they can withstand repeated washing better than their plastic or metal counterparts. The cloth buttons are also used to protect against plastic buttons being melted or disfigured because of intense heat.

Your traditional chef uniform also consists of a large triangular cloth worn around the neck. The necktie was formerly worn to absorb perspiration during those times where modern air conditioning was still not at hand. It later became decorative, since contemporary kitchens are now air conditioned. However, some still wear them to pay homage to the symbol and tradition of their trade.

Nowadays, chefs have personalized uniforms with added colors and patterns, even changes in designs. Although, it is still a widely accepted tradition to see a chef wear his or her white coat as her standard uniform.

Why Add Certified Organic Coffee to Your Menu?

It’s becoming increasingly frequent for customers to request organic menu items, even at non-organic restaurants. This is particularly true for coffee. Unfortunately, coffee is one of the most heavily exposed crops, when it comes to the use of commercial chemical pesticides and herbicides. This puts it at the top of the list, for your diners’ organic alternative requests.

So when you are choosing an organic coffee, what do you need to look for? When it comes to coffee, there are certain guidelines that must be met to be certified as organic. Below you will find the specific rules that must be followed to receive an organic label.

The first guideline is that any and all fertilizer that is used while growing the bean used to make coffee must be organic itself. This means that chemicals can not be used as the fertilizing agent. Some approved fertilizing methods include chicken manure, bocachi, coffee pulp and general compost. Additionally, in most cases, even though some exemptions do exist, the land that the beans are grown on should be free of chemical use for at least three years. This regulation is monitored and enforced by the USDA and compliance must be met to receive the certification.

However, when it comes to production, the restrictions and regulations are rather lax. While there are organizations working hard to create certain standards, they are not being abided by. Even though the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 sets some very clear guidelines, they aren’t strictly adhered to, and there isn’t an organization that ensures that they are. A former vice chair of a board of organic standards has stated that just because a product is labeled as organic does not mean that it is safe, healthy or provides true nutrition.

You can have the highest confidence that your coffee is organic if it comes from Honduras, but other countries do produce organic coffee. Some of these include Columbia, Brazil, and Mexico. The key, however, is to understand what happens to the coffee once it leaves the field and goes to its processing plant. Various chemicals could be used at that point that would deem it to no longer be organic in the hearts and minds of those that are truly concerned with its legitimacy.

Due to the concerns about the post-growing handling of the coffee, we choose only to select organic coffee that is processed in the US, under closer scrutiny. Currently, we feature Java Planet Organic Coffee as our supplier of organic coffee. Their beans are imported from the various growers and then roasted in their own facility in Tampa, FL. They have a fairly wide variety of beans, from many countries. Their coffee is also fairly traded, which many consumers also prefer.

In the past, the number of organic growers had been declining due to competition. Due to the use of chemicals the production could be higher, making non-organic products cheaper in the end, but over time there has been an increased awareness of the benefits of a continuing of the organic approach. It has been found that bulk production can deplete the nutrients in the soil. Additionally, using organic fertilizer can also reduce soil erosion by a great deal. Eliminating these components has been shown to be beneficial to growth and have lead to a steady increase in organic growers.

There are some issues with growing the coffee bean organically. The main problem that growers face is that organic fertilizers tend to have issues with releasing the nutrition the plant needs at the right time. They release nutrients at a slower pace, making the growth process slower than it is when other methods are used.

In the final analysis, the benefit of being certified outweighs the extra costs associated with growing the coffee. The market for organic coffee will certainly continue to grow. For that reason, we’ve taken pains to make sure we can provide the best selection for our customers to serve in their restaurants.

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