We’re always interested in incidents of food-based sexism. Women and food are a continually controversial topic. Now, New York Magazine is weighing in with a fascinating round table discussion among some of that city’s top female chefs.
The chefs discussed why, despite the fact that the majority of home cooks are estimated to be women, so few women run kitchens of prominent restaurants. Explanations ranged from the fact that many women simply aren’t willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to become a top chef (we’d argue that plenty of men aren’t willing to do so either) to the sense that male investors aren’t as willing to sink money into a female-owned operation. The chefs have some dispiriting anecdotes to share: both Jody Williams of Morandi and Anita Lo of Annisa report that their male comes addressed to “Mr.” and Pearl Oyster Bar’s Rebecca Charles says that her food deliveryman consistently gives the bill to her (male) sous-chef to sign.
Interestingly, most of the chefs agree that the food of female chefs is different (and better) than that of their male counterparts. Sara Jenkins opines: “I think women cook different food, and I think women cook better food. It’s more from the heart and more from the soul. I look at this whole molecular-gastronomy thing, and I’m like, “Boys with toys.” They’re just fascinated with technology and chemistry sets. I think we make better-tasting food. I’m sorry, I know that’s politically incorrect.” We’ve long maintained that there are no innate gender differences in terms of cooking styles, but we will admit that men seem to be more interested in molecular gastronomy in a general sense than do women. On the other hand, however, when the contestants on The Next Iron Chef had to use molecular gastronomy tools, LA chef Jill Davie of Josie seemed to be the most into it of any of the chefs.
What do you think? Is there an innate difference in the ways that women and men cook? Why are there so few top female chefs?
Top Female Chefs Dish on Why They’re Such a Rare Breed [New York Magazine]