All about cloth and paper chef hats
The chef hat has a long history of use in professional kitchens. The classic white chef's hat originated in mid-19th century France, though some historians trace its history back even further. In its early years, chef hats were used to indicate ranks among cooks in the kitchen. The lowest-ranking cook would wear the shortest hat, while the head chef had the tallest.
Today, kitchen headwear comes in a wider variety of styles and colors than ever before, from simple paper chef hats to cloth hats. Slender, streamlined designs as well as the classic puffy chef's hat are being worn, and chef hat patterns are increasingly in vogue in kitchens.
The Function of Chef Hats
Chef hats are worn to prevent hair from falling into dishes as cooks prepare food for diners. Today, they are often used in tandem with hair nets, and some kitchens don't require their kitchen staff to wear an actual chef hat as long as their hair is completely covered by a net.
Kitchens get hot, and a chef hat also absorbs sweat that collects on the brow. Needless to say, it is very unsanitary to risk sweat dripping off a hot forehead onto a plate of food that's about to be served.
Types and Styles of Chef Hats
Simple chef's hats are not elevated high above the level of the head, and simply rest atop the hair like a snug crown. While these are simple and functional, they don't allow for much air circulation and they can get very hot over the course of a long shift. Paper chef hats are usually straight and elongated, and they are very good at keeping your head cool as you cook over a hot stove. You can get cloth chef hats in the elongated style that are either straight at the sides or puffy at the top; it's a matter of personal choice and stylistic preference. There really isn't a functional difference between the two.
Like chef coats and chef aprons, kitchen hats are traditionally white but are now available in a wider range of colors and patterns than ever before. More and more restaurants are allowing their employees to choose their own apparel and are not requiring them to have a uniform appearance, leaving you free to wear the chef's hat that keeps you coolest and looking your best.