Friday, February 26, 2010

"Where are all the Great Female Chefs"
Gastronomica recently published a piece by Charlotte Druckman, titled “Where Are the Great Female Chefs?” and the issue discussed was set by of who else but the great Bourdain. His tone can be described in his days in the “phallocentric” restaurant business as “a bunch of sweaty guys standing around submarine-sized spaces talking about dick dick dick dick dick.”

Eric Ripert made the observation that if women chefs aren’t seen in abundance, it’s partly because they eventually want to start families, which isn’t conducive to working in the kitchen around the clock. (Michelin-starred French chef said the same thing when Feast recently asked her why there aren’t more women chefs: “I have a lot of younger women in my kitchen, but unfortunately one day they chose the family.”)

Bourdain’s next question: Why are women overrepresented in pastry? Is a woman who chooses that path “opting out of the sub-moronic level of discourse in the kitchen or is there something else going on?” Izard said the first jobs she was offered out of school were in pastry. “You have to prove that you can do it all yourself. I felt that I needed to prove that I was just as strong, just as good, just as hardworking.”

Still, the Gastronomica article makes clear that even when female chefs find success, their cooking is defined in different terms. "So, if a male chef serves a plate of Spaghetti Bolognese, it is lauded for its “in-your-face,” “rich,” “intense,” “bold” flavors, while a woman’s plateful of the same indicates “homey,” “comforting” fare, “prepared with love.” The former becomes an aggressive statement, a declaration of ego, while the latter is a testament to home cooking."

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