For the master Chefs
While cleaning out my old PC I came across this as posted by Chef Tricia some years back in another forum. Enjoy.
To receive a black toque is the ultimate!! Here is some info relating to Australia, but it still gives the history behind it all.
"The Australian Culinary Federation, the representative Australian organization for cooks and chefs through its state Victorian chapter has conferred a Black Hat on George Hill. The black hat is the highest industry conferred accolade that can be achieved by a chef in Australia and is bestowed by peers in the cookery industry. The award acknowledges exceptional service and dedication in the discipline of cookery.
History of the foundation of the black cooks hat:
The traditional chef's hat, or toque, is the most distinguishing and recognizable part of the traditional cooks uniform and dates back to the 16th century. History identifies that barbarians from northern Europe invaded the area now known as Istanbul in the 16th century. During that period artisans of all types (including chefs) were often imprisoned, or even executed, because of their freethinking. To alleviate persecution, some chefs (and academics) sought refuge in the Greek Orthodox Church and hid amongst the priests of the monasteries. There they wore the same clothes as the priests including the tall hats and long robes-with the exception of one point of difference: the chef's clothes were grey and the priest's were black. Many of the chefs eventually remained in the monasteries as the cooks and in due course obtained permission to switch from grey to white hats to further differentiate themselves from the monks.
A black skullcap used by English Master Craftsman Cooks originated in 1804's at the famous Reform Club and was a black velvet cap from which a tassel dangled. However it was several years later, when the flamboyant and brilliant culinary artist, Alexis Soyer became Maitre Chef des Cuisines of the Reform Club that the black cap became famous.
In the 15th century the English Worshipful Company of Cooks was chartered in the year 1482, although it had been founded nearly 50 years prior to the charter. It is both the oldest and most senior of all British professional cook's organizations and is still in existence. The Worshipful Company of Cooks is incorporated in the Cookery and Food Association U.K., which was founded in1855 and enrolled by Special Authority of the Lords of the Treasury in 1891. It is under the Patronage of: Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen Mother. Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. The Worshipful Company of Cooks was the world first cooks organization to utilize the Black Cap as a symbolic award. This emblem has spread to many professional chefs' organizations throughout the world who now also use the representation of a black cooks hat as the ultimate recognition as a chef awarded only by chefs.
In 1984 the tradition was introduced into Australia with the Australian version: "The Sid Taylor Memorial Black Hat Award". It is now conferred by the "Australian Culinary Federation" (A national organization of chefs represented by chapters in all states in Australia) on behalf of peers and is held by the recipient until a worthy successor is found. Under international conventions recipients are granted the very special right by other chefs to wear a black hat at official functions and duties and only receivers of the award may professionally wear the black hat to recognize their standing.
Since the awards introduction in 1984, Australia has conferred seven black hats. The Australian award known as The "Sid Taylor Memorial Black Hat" identifying the very first beneficiary was awarded in 1984, and the last award bestowed on the Late Ael Bailey in 1991. Previous recipients include Alex Chenevier (deceased) 1982, Ernst Stuhler 1984, John Miller 1987, Claudio Magris in 1990. And in October 2001 George Hill."