Why So Few Women Are Great Chefs?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by ldts60, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. ldts60

    ldts60

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    Fernand Point stated "only men have the technique,dicipline,and passion that makes cooking consistently an art".
    Honest thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated . :chef:
     
  2. chinds85

    chinds85

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    From what I know of the culinary career track, sweating in a hot kitchen in a male-dominated workplace would not sound appealing to most women. But I'm a guy, so what would I know about women?

    I am guessing it has something to do with the work environment. That, and most women I'm pretty sure work in bakeries and not in kitchens. The environments are very different.
     
  3. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Anyone who grew up in a large family, on the farm or otherwise, will tell you how great their mother or grandmother was at getting breakfast/lunch/dinner on the table for six hungry boys. Forget technique. :)
     
  4. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    This business is still very male dominated, but women are making inroads into this field. There are many great women out there, and not just in pastry land, though those women need to be given their due also. Women such as Susan Goin, Susan Spicer, Traci des Jardins, Gale Gand, Claudia Fleming, come to mind right away, without even given it any thought. Sure this business is not for every female, just like it's not for every male. It's a hot, stressful environment, often very testosteron driven, at times. I have worked with many women, in the kitchen and I have no problems working beside women as long as they can handle (I feel the same way about men also). I treat all the women in my kitchens the same as the men in my kitchen. I don't work them any harder then the men, but I also won't work them any less hard either. Anyone, male or female, that can handle my kitchens and can cook is welcome, and anyone, male or female, that can't hack it can just keep on walking. All I care about is their skills as a cook. I don't care if they are male, female, black, hispanic, white. ****, they can be from Mars for all I care, as long as they can cook and have the right attitude.
     
  5. chrose

    chrose

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    Let's not forget Sandra Lee :D Okay foul...I know :rolleyes: as much as I admire Fernand Points' talent and cuisine, that is a typically French, masculine attitude certainly more so back in the 40's, 50's and 60's and is slowly drifting away. In other words I totally disagree. Let's not forget if it wasn't for the women cooking at home, none of them would exist. We all had to have a first food role model and who else would it be, but the women. So to me women have equal footing in the kitchen as in most anyplace else.
     
  6. ozarkrose

    ozarkrose

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    Speaking from experience ...
    The dedication required to be the top in any field precludes "other" life, and for a women that means, (if we're honest and accept that it is a biological fact for most women), family. In other realms, high positions are AT LEAST well paid so a person could afford to hire the "village" it takes to raise kids. I think cuisine is too much of an "art", or a "love", to pay all that well so a choice must be made.
    Although many women would choose not to put themselves in a daily work situation that pushes physical stamina to the limits, I firmly believe that anyone who believes a women is at less that par for the mental strain is from Mars! I mean come on ... the meanest, down-dirtiest, cut to the quick people I know are women!
    (P.S: I just took 10 years off to raise a son and am looking for an apprenticeship outside of my area to get back in the swing of things, HA!)
     
  7. frizbee

    frizbee

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    I am a Woman of course, and I have had serious blockages in the kitchen. I commented to a female manager I had once (who was also formally a Chef) about how irritated I got on the line at a new job...
    The assumption seems to be shock/joy if a woman comes on line and holds her own (outside of pantry). There is also the assumption that women need more help.
    The same assumption applies to men but on a reciprocal level...meaning, the crew is shocked if a man come onto the line and cannot hack it. It is expected that a man can do almost anything.
    A woman is a stand out of she pulls a coworker out of the weeds but if a man helps a woman out, somehow it is expected at some point...that she couldn't handle the job...eventually we would see that.
    I as well am enlightened and observant enough to know that women are a distraction in the kitchen, especially if they are attractive....
    I am considered attractive... (I am not being conceited here), however I play my attractiveness down dramatically when at work. I wear men's boxer briefs (they are soo **** comfortable) so that if I am bent over cleaning something...there is no difference than catching a glimpse of guys waistband. I of course wear no makeup and try my best not to ask anyone for anything...EVER. They are shocked if I come in for dinner and on several occasions didn’t recognize me at all.
    It’s a shame because I would love to feel like there is no gender bias, and we are all equal. But they speak to me differently... (Seem to be a bit more aggressive, like they can intimidate me), and when I speak back in kind, the comment is man what a bit**, Oh she's difficult, moody, or hard to get along with; you can’t tell a woman anything. But when I keep my mouth shut and choose the battles I want to fight...then they feel they can walk all over me because I just try and do the job with little conflict. What they don’t understand is that I really don’t give a crap what they say/do/think…I fight the battles I can win. And if I catch a mistake or challenge them on an issue….oh forget it. I don’t get credit for knowing, or seeing. If I bring light to the mistake….and that it was in fact me who caught it…oh she’s just looking for recognition, and glory.
    Tonight on the line, and I am not kidding here….The f’ing supervisor was asking me for something…I told him I was busy and couldn’t right then, could he get it himself please. I had 5 plates to plate, and he could have gotten what he was asking for himself (he was right beside me on the line and could have done whatever it was very simply)….he told me (and I am not even kidding here) that this was not a democracy…it was a monarchy….and if he asked me for something I must comply. I swear to you…in the middle of a 350 dinner rush, I actually stopped what I was doing, looked at him and laughed in his face….continued what I was doing, and eventually he got for himself what he needed. Will I hear about it tomorrow from the Chef, about how difficult I am…sure I will. Our Chef also came over and complemented a new sauté guy (whom I trained) on his seafood fett pasta. Told him that his looked better than the supervisors when we is on sauté. I was just waiting for him to say, thanks…marina told me to do it this way (because the supervisor was screwing it up. So I trained him to do it the right way) did he? Of course not, and I didn’t want to step on his complement. So I kept quite.
    This is a very sore subject for me because I deal with it everyday, and I don't know if it will ever change. I am sorry for venting, tonight was a bad one. I take great pride in knowing there are those out there like Michele Bernstein, and Alice Waters to blaze the trails for up and comers like me.....
     
  8. 100folds

    100folds

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    holy ****!
    I am a chef d' partie of entremetier, have been an executive chef and I am a woman. I can understand what you are saying but I believe you are putting too much emphasim on being a woman in a male dominate industry. My suggestion to you is too allow yourself to be femine but also be good at your job. Allow the passion to rule your life, meaning research, read, study, practice and become not just better in the practical sense but in knowledge as well.
    We will never be put in the same catagory as men when it comes to what we do. You have to accept that it is a boys club. Yes, stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Be strong at all times. But do not sacrifice yourself for a battle that does not even really exist.
    It took me a long time to accept that I was a woman long before I was a cook. Now Im both and the balance is amazing.
    Good luck and I hope to god that you find an environment that is nurturing and respectful, not aggressive and possesive like the one your in.
     
  9. lukeygina

    lukeygina

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    I am a male just coming out of high school and a career change (military didn't work out) so I'm just beginning to find my way in this industry... In the military it is very similiar... you are not aloud to comment on something like sex discrimination but it's there. Males look at women with respect but it's not the same in all cases... Our head boss of our shop personally didn't like women and it was so obvious it killed me and I'm a male... It's wrong and the GM should not alow it to go on... but I guess it's hard...

    I give you both the upmost in respect for taking the discrimination and holding your head high... it must be really hard!!! I'm sorry my fellow males can't be educated enough to see that a woman can do anything a male can do and often better than males... without being stereotypical, most females have alot more patience than alot of males...
     
  10. ldts60

    ldts60

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    Your opinions are great! And It's nice hearing from open minded males.
    BUT ......... I want to hear from men that really have an issue with women
    in the kitchen and the reasons why?
    Come on guy's I know your out there and if cooking is your art and with art comes conviction ,So be brave and give this forum some fire :chef:
     
  11. greg

    greg

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    I'm curious as to what the point would be in taking this discussion in that direction. Airing discriminatory and inflammatory opinions behind the anonymity of a computer screen takes no particular amount of courage and we discourage that type of fire.
     
  12. frizbee

    frizbee

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    Airing discriminatory and inflammatory opinions behind the anonymity of a computer screen takes no particular amount of courage and we discourage that type of fire.

    BUT ......... I want to hear from men that really have an issue with women
    in the kitchen and the reasons why?



    I didn’t interpret it as an invitation to female bash… but I think that the comfort of anonymity would allow open discussion of why some men do have issues with women in the kitchen.
    I am all for the conversation…as long as it doesn’t degenerate. I think it could be actually insightful.
    Frizbee
     
  13. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    What do you expect to hear? It will all boil down to this:

    1) Women are no good in the kitchen because __________

    2) But not all women of course, I know a female who ___________
     
  14. ldts60

    ldts60

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    I'm doing some research for a culinary history paper ,yes times are changing but I know that there are some old school types out there and I need to present arguments on pro's and con's .
     
  15. chef john

    chef john

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    Three of the women Chefs that have been previously mentioned as role models and as ones who have opened doors, I have personally either worked with or been acquainted with them professionally starting many years ago before they were "name " chefs. Do you know why they became successful as chefs?
    Because they acted like chefs.
    You know what? They wore eyeliner, just a trace amount, they had a whiff of perfume on there chef's jackets and had purple scrunchies to hold back their hair. Yes, they didn't deny they were female, because being a woman had nothing to do with their vision of themselves. Only people who aren't secure chefs worry about it. They were above it.
    They cooked tough.
    When the line was busy, they held there own. When prep was needed they got it done. When a FOH manager needed to know "what he needed to know", they told him. They were tough on staff and tougher on themselves.
    But they cooked tough. And over time, like anyone who is successful, they developed their own vision of their cuisine and pursued it.
    Do a lot of women make it in this profession? No, not really, but I think that has to do with unreal expectations and the Food Network. Not their gender. But, anyone who is successful in this culinary endeavor generally shares the same traints with others who are successful, regardless of sex.
    Thanks for letting me put my two cents in, I hope I wasn't too long winded.
    Bye, now.
     
  16. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    From a historical perspective, you can ask why are there so few women ___________?

    The answer is almost always the same, in one form or another.

    Nobody except for an outright chauvinist will even attempt to answer that question. It's not even old school thinking, it's ancient, primitive, Neanderthal, cro-magnon, Australopithecus Afarensis.
     
  17. 100folds

    100folds

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    I completley agree with you. I have seen women sacrifice their feminity because they feel they need to. They think they have to erase their gender in order to be seen but they dont understand that it takes the passion or maybe the obsession in this industry in order to become successful. It took me a while to learn this myself and I wish I could have been told it instead of learning it on my own but I believe that it is a lesson best learned on one's own.
     
  18. momoreg

    momoreg

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    It's not that there are so few great female chefs, but BECAUSE it's a male-dominated field, men receive most of the limelight.

    Of course, there are lots of great chefs--male, female, black, white, etc... Just because you don't read about them, doesn't mean they don't exist.

    I don't think it's necessary to try to bring on a heated discussion.
     
  19. 100folds

    100folds

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    This is not a heated discussion. This is people expressing their ideas and I believe most of us agree. I don't uderstand what problems you might have with this.
     
  20. momoreg

    momoreg

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    I didn't say this is a heated discussion, but with statements like the one above, or the mere title of the thread, it surely can go in that direction.

    Now do you understand?