Jack’s Journal: History Behind Culinary Uniform at NMC

At Northwestern Michigan College the Great Lakes Culinary Institute students are learning how to prepare food, and how to run a kitchen — and also the reasons and history behind the uniform they wear.

"There is a story behind everything from the ground up," said chef and instructor Bob Rodriguez. "From the shoes we wear. The hard leather shoes that protect the feet from spills and dropped knives. To the checkered pants that hide stains that don’t look good when you go out into the dinning room."

The double breasted jacket adds a layer of protection from the heat and potential burns, and is also there to allow the chef to look good at a moments notice.

"Also, in case you get dirty and have to go out and talk to somebody, you can turn the whole thing around."

Clever! The cloth buttons wear well with multiple washings. The hats today are cloth and color designates rank or level in the kitchen. With the traditional pleated hat, the pleats have a meaning too.

"The pleats were put in there in the 1700’s. They signify the many ways to cook an egg."

The entire uniform dates back to an era when the cook was held in high regard and was part of the kings military. The uniform was very formal — nobody wanted to mistakenly shoot the cook!

So these students are not only learning how the ways of a kitchen, but why what they wear is important and the history that is behind it.

"The uniform should be worn with pride. Because we do a significant job here with the students. To wear one of these uniforms, it’s business attire."

Having pride in what you do is important, and the culinary students at NMC are learning to have pride in the uniform that they wear. 

Categories: Jack’s Journal