Martha Payne and Nick Nairn at his cookery school.
Have you ever wondered why the vast majority of chefs are men? Sure, successful female chefs do exist, but men clearly transcend in this profession. Such an acknowledgement contradicts to the bone the far-fetched notion that cooking is traditionally a woman's thing or that the kitchen is naturally a woman’s place. If I need to guess as to why male cooks prevail, I would arbitrarily say that maybe it’s because they are tougher and faster. It appears that they are also considered to be bolder, more creative and according to a statement by the father of modern French cuisine, Fernand Point: “Only men have the technique, discipline and passion that makes cooking consistently an art.”
On top of this, the gender bias is expanding to the earnings. A survey from last year, conducted by the American Culinary Federation, showed that women executive chefs were paid on average $18,000 less than their male counterparts. This disparity alone is enough to get women to refrain from fighting their way to the restaurant kitchens. Even now, some girls aspire to be chefs out there and those sporadic women who made it, struggle to keep up with the pressure of working in a discriminatory domain. Why not try to explore their full potential in lieu of cutting their wings?
On the other hand, chances are, if you are of the kind that searches diligently the press and the web for articles associated to food, you will find out that female writers outnumber the male ones. Writing is a safer getaway and, for the time being, an impartial battlefield for the women that didn’t survive as professional cooks. English chef Jamie Oliver proved that not only is he unprejudiced, but he can also be more than supportive of young girls who are into healthy nutrition. He went the extra mile and elevated a young girl's food blog by posting a comment on Twitter and by sending her a signed book. The visitation proliferated and Martha Payne's blog became a heavy hitter within only a couple of days. The 9 year old blogger recently announced she was awarded Blog of the Month by Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Maybe we shouldn’t be looking for more women in the cooking industry, but for more inspirational mentors like Jamie Oliver.
For another perspective on women in professional kitchens, read "From Donna Reed to Alice Waters."
Girl Museum Inc.