International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on 8 March as a global day focusing on the women's rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women. There are many champions of the gentle persuasion in professional kitchen. I have often said in the past some of the best chefs and cooks I have worked with were females. Today, lets a have a look at some of the Great woman on the culinary landscape.
There is an old saying that “women make good cooks, but men make better chefs.” Setting aside the inaccuracy of this statement, it does tell us something important about the way that society looks at the roles of men and women in the kitchen.
Women have traditionally taken on the role of family cook. But they were usually not seen as suitable candidates for the more complex and prestigious job of managing elaborate kitchens in fancy restaurants.
Chefs were also expected to control their staff with an iron fist (and a strong set of lungs) – not exactly traits that are thought of as traditionally “feminine.” “A woman’s place was in the home,” but a professional kitchen for many years was almost exclusively a man’s world.
For example, the Culinary Institute of America, one of America’s most acclaimed culinary schools, states that the “number of enrolled women has been increasing since the school opened in 1946, with its first graduating class having one woman among 50 students. By 1980, 20% of students were female, which rose to 30% by 2000 and 40% by 2006. In 2017, women became the majority at the school, with 51.6% of students.
“Although it is often cited that women were not admitted to the school until 1970, there was one woman in the first class held, four in the next, and more in almost every class since then. From 1966 to 1971, women were not admitted, with the stated reason of limited facilities on their New Haven campus.”
For decades, women have fought for equality in every aspect of their lives. And it is certainly true that this overall trend towards equality has had an impact in the professional kitchen. At the same time, inspirational female chefs and restaurateurs have shown the world what we are capable of.
Julia Child – Cooking with Abandon and Passion
Julia Child was a cooking legend. An American famous female chef, she is best known for popularizing French cuisine among mainstream households in the United States and making gourmet cooking accessible to everyone.
She had a wonderfully flippant and confident attitude, experimenting with food, accepting mistakes, and putting passion ahead of perfection. Julia started her career relatively late at the age of 37, but her towering personality and 6’2” physique positioned her as a unique and much loved female chef.
After becoming a successful food author with her bestselling French cookbooks, she broke into the television world in 1963. Her series, The French Chef, was really the first experiment with a TV “cooking show.”
She was a female chef that changed the way we look at women in the world of cooking – not to mention laid the groundwork for all of the many TV cooking shows that followed over the next several decades. Julia Child was a beloved TV personality and culinary icon that was admired by generations of chefs – men and women alike.
Alice Waters – Sharing a Passion for Organic and Locally Sourced Cooking
Alice Waters is affectionately known as the inventor of California Cuisine. Like many famous female chefs, she had a love for French cooking techniques but also a passion for fresh, local produce and natural ingredients.
She opened her restaurant, called Chez Panisse, in Berkeley in 1971 and made a unique statement by offering a set five-course, fixed-price menu. The meal was made only from the freshest seasonal and local products that she sourced from a community of farmers and ranchers who provided her with naturally grown, mostly organic foods.
Alice was an inspirational female chef who stayed true to her values of sustainability by incorporating organic and healthy foods into a structured restaurant environment. She led the way for a fresh approach to cooking and launched a trend for organic and locally produced ingredients that has now become mainstream around the world.
AND OF COURSE A FEW CANADIANS
Description Lynn Crawford is a Canadian chef and television personality. She is known for her appearances on the Food Network show Restaurant Makeover, which is seen in over 16 countries worldwide
Description Jehane Benoît OC was a Canadian culinary author, speaker, commentator, journalist and broadcaster. Benoît was born into a wealthy family in Westmount, Quebec, with a father and grandfather who were food connoisseurs.
Description Anna Olson is a professionally trained American pastry chef. She resides in Welland in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. She was previously the host of Food Network Canada's Fresh with Anna Olson, Sugar and Kitchen Equipped and Bake with Anna Olson
That's all folks, happy hump day!