Female chefs and line cooks

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danigrlcatering ..... WELCOME to ChefTalk.






The post before yours was over 3 years ago. It's OK ... everyone has done it.
 
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I'm a male sous in a kitchen with a lot of strong women. My chef is a younger woman who kicks ass. We get along great. 2 of my owner/bosses are women and they regularly work circles around me. I am in awe of all of them. Same goes for the younger FOH girls who help out with prep, work the dish pit, put away deliveries, answer the phone and make me drinks after shift. Our restaurant would be nowhere without them.

Funny story... Just the other day one of our owners sons was working in the kitchen. He's thirteen. We had him wash lettuce, peel carrots and potatoes, that sort of thing. He got tired of menial labour and says aloud "don't you have any manly jobs I could do?" Our baker, a middle aged woman with years of experience under her belt puts down her tools and says "look! You need to let go of that kind of thinking because that's not the way it works in the kitchen, or in life!" He almost cried. It was amazing. And guess what? He came back to work the other day with a better attitude. She taught him something he hopefully won't forget. We joke with him now about the manliness of tipping beans, and he gets the joke!

In my experience, women are my allies, mentors, students and besties! I wouldn't have it any other way. Maybe I'm blessed.
 
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I'm starting to have a shelf life, I have no problem asking the kids to bring up the sacks of flour and sugar now.
Back in the day, I wouldn't dream of asking for help
Yes to opening doors regardless of gender, and pickle buckets have buried a line in the hands of a novice so yes to helping when necessary.

Off topic, too many choices for profile descriptions... I'm leaning towards 'can't boil water' and see if anyone notices
 
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If your job is to lift, push, pull, or in anyway manhandle things, then it's your job. Male or female. However, we in society understand that some people are physically weaker in ways that are protected by law, and we should acknowledge that.

As a younger person/cook, I was always of the opinion that I did not need help from males. And I was right that I could heft quite alot, mostly from sheer will and by leveraging my strength. 

I still think that our industry is fine for physically fit males and females.

One interesting side note re opening doors for females...I remember one instance of riding on a bus in Boston. I observed a heavily pregnant woman standing, swaying. All seats were filled by men. She was hanging on, clearly uncomfortable, probably just wanting a break to rest. No men stood up. In fact I gave up my seat, and asked her to sit in the seat.
 
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I'm FOH, so you may take this with the amount of grain of salt you feel appropriate.
I worked with my city's only female executive chef, and I can say that I wouldn't mess with her.
 
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I love these resurrected threads.

I like to go back and read the OP and 3 year old posts to see how they evolved.

All of us work in a kitchen unlike any others. No 2 are alike. Kitchens are filled with an assortment of personalities.

That's what this is all about anyway....a group of people trying to come together with a purpose, that being, cooking and preparing food.

Societal differences exist in any group.  

There is still going to be people out there that, for whatever reason, can not accept others, and will go out of their way to become an obstacle, or to create havoc, just for their own enjoyment.

The answer then would be "no" it doesn't get better.
 
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I have been a Chef in many fine dining kitchens and I always hire at least one bad ass female cook/ Chef. They just bring something to the Kitchen that guys don't seem to.
 
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My chef is female, and I know for a fact that my kitchen couldn't function without her. She's not just the backbone of the kitchen, either, but the team as well. Her attitude and personality are the absolute foundation of the kitchen, and all of the cooks not only gladly step up to help, but trust without reservation that she has their backs.

In reality, though, this is largely by design. Her and I have, over the course of the last two years, been cultivating a team that we know we can trust to get the job done *while also* not singling her out as the only woman of the group. It's taken time and effort, but I'm proud to say that we have a team that sees her as a cook and leader before they even think about the fact that she's the only girl in the kitchen.

It probably helps that we're also a very young kitchen (average age is about 28), that caters to a younger demographic and is in a more progressive part of town, so we're not really dealing with a whole lot of "old hats" who do things because they're traditional.

Final answer: social engineering. There's a lady in charge, and anyone that is going to have a problem with that or make a big deal out of it probably wouldn't mesh well with the rest of the team any way.
 
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Every person is so very different. I love seeing how we interact. Sometimes it can be tough NOT to perceive crap slinging in my direction as guys be chauvinist a-hole pigs when they see me busting my bum right along with them. Most of the time it's in good fun. However some people are just A-holes. There's nothing we can do about it. We shouldn't let it retract from what we bring to the restaurant and we should absolutely relish the good around us and NOT let it diminish the love of what we do, who we are, why we are there. Your boss has you there because they know you deserve to be there or they'd cut you loose. So bring it. Do your job. And rise to the occasion. If we are not challenged and challenging our peers how will we become champions?!?! 

I'd really like to know as a woman who's been cooking for almost a decade what y'all perceive that we bring to the kitchen. I absolutely see that I relate differently to others than my male counterparts. I listen more. They come to me more. I tend to be looking after our young cooks while NOT holding their hands because they don't need it. I know my kitchens like having me BUT why? I am just me. Compliments are rarer than double yolk eggs in a kitchen. Lots of chefs say they always want at least one strong female chef in their kitchen. Why is that? Seems hard to put into words. What does a female bring that is unique? 
 
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Funny as I read my reply from four years ago on this post I am still in the same job but things have drastically changed.  I've been there longer than all of the other employees (excluding the chef and sous who were hired six months before I was) and I have to laugh at some of them when it comes to the jobs we have to do.  

I am in charge of my own department which most of the time is a department of one (me) but when things get busy I do need help and they get it for me.  If I can't lift something on my own I will ask for help and people who don't know me or how strong I am look really worried when I start slugging boxes so they will rush to help and are surprised at how strong I am.  I guess when you haul the same stuff for so long you build up some strength.  
 
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I open doors for everyone (wether they are female or male) when they have a lot to carry. It's not sexist. It is just common courtesy and teamwork.
 
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I sometimes open doors for others at work, but do so for all genders when they're obviously carrying something heavy or their hands are full. And I do it less so outside of work because I'm aware of the perception some people have about it. Like I won't wait for them at the door, but I'll keep it open if they're directly behind me.

I'd really like to know as a woman who's been cooking for almost a decade what y'all perceive that we bring to the kitchen. I absolutely see that I relate differently to others than my male counterparts. I listen more. They come to me more. I tend to be looking after our young cooks while NOT holding their hands because they don't need it. I know my kitchens like having me BUT why? I am just me. Compliments are rarer than double yolk eggs in a kitchen. Lots of chefs say they always want at least one strong female chef in their kitchen. Why is that? Seems hard to put into words. What does a female bring that is unique? 

I recently quit my job at a university dining facility after nearly two years of working there. I was a station cook. The executive chef (who oversaw multiple facilities on campus) and, contrary to most restaurants, the vast majority of the full-time staff is female. I have found this environment to be more caring, encouraging, and compassionate than those which were much more male dominated (granted, not food service). The exec. chef knew what she wanted, but also asked others what they thought. She led by example and was open to others' questions. And nobody gave her shit cause she'd been there for a while. In contrast the male chef at my building was getting ready to retire soon and doesn't seem to be as passionate, and sure as hell won't take the time to teach you anything. Perhaps this has more to do with growing older than it does gender, but I've simply found teams with more women (especially in leadership) make for a more enjoyable, maybe less "competitive" workplace.
 
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When I first started working at the BBQ joint I'm at now the owner (male) would constantly throw sexist comments my way; "can you lift that", "do you even know what a phillips screw driver looks like", "oh, don't lift that it's too heavy for you", "here honey (sweetheart, darling, etc). He would hold my waist sometimes and it would get pretty annoying/creepy. He thought he could yell at me and I wouldn't react. When I stood up for myself by yelling back I finally got some respect in the kitchen. I proved I could lift that 50lb jug of bbq sauce. For me it took some time. I still feel as if I have to prove myself daily. He's around 60 though.

Even my last boss told me that, "women cannot work as hard or long as men can". Man, did that piss me off! I was getting less hours because that was her mentality. Then she turned it around as if I was greedy and told my co-workers. 

Hopefully it gets better but I'm prepared for the b.s. 
 
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linecookliz linecookliz I totally get the touching thing.
Like when a male coworker would gesture for me to go first and then"guide" me with a light touch to my waist.
Perfectly ok when dancing ....not so much at work.

mimi
 
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I am the exact opposite. I wouldn't be bothered if I was touched. Some people are affectionate with the opposite sex, and some people just aren't.

In our kitchen, I'm just one of the guys. 

I would think being a female in a male environment you could probably get away with murder if you really wanted to, just to spite them. lol

I don't even mind the goofy, crude or even sexual jokes. I can take an insult and give it right back. I have no problem standing up to the owner when she is having a control freak moment. I will ask her something that will push her over the edge, like, "Tracy? Do you have anxiety?" Which freaks her out and she will scream, !!! I DON'T HAVE ANXIETY !!!

If anyone made a presumption that I didn't have the stamina of my male counterparts, I would be so happy to prove them wrong. I have confidence in my abilities and I am a good cook. I can stand for 12 hours alongside my brothers for days on end, and when we are really under fire, we are a team. That is all that really matters.

When other people ask a stupid question they usually get a sarcastic (funny) answer.

If I was asked if I would know what a Phillips head screwdriver was, I would probably say something like 'screw you' and smile.

 
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I don't mind the jokes and I make cruder sexual jokes anyhow. Just makes all the guys uncomfortable, lol. I'm chill about most things but certain things just tick me off. I don't think the lifting questions would bother me as much if I had 2+ years on the line, but only 5 months in. Still, I'm pretty good for such a small amount of time. My confidence is a bit lacking also. :p I get hours where I only cook by myself and that's always nice. Especially when it gets a little busy (6 tickets in a row with 2-3 people at each table). 
 

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