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Women in a Restaurant Kitchen


cdabney
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I've been cooking for almost ten years now at some pretty swanky places. I recently started a new job and everyone here (sans the ex.chef) is holding my hand. I know what I'm doing...I act like I know what I'm doing..why the babying.

I hate to pull this card but is it because I'm a woman?

My question is, how do other cooks (male ) feel about woman in the kitchen?

And Ladies, how do you get them to understand that a joke about fisting someones sister is not shocking..we're cooks for Christ sake. We've heard/seen it all!

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Curse like a sailor, drink like a mick, your only words of wisdom being "suck my dick"

Tell the dirtiest jokes, bleed the most, slam the oven door the hardest, keep the cleanest station, get your mise done first then help them with theirs, pull them out of the shit over and over, use your kitchen spanish liberaly, then once they stop being a bunch of sexist pigs, repeat.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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It depends on whether you want to be one of the guys or whether you want to be the executive chef.

If you want to be one of the guys you can try to make friends with the guys - the way that Alchemist advised above is excellent. They will start to respect you (each to their own level of abilities as their personality allows them to, some more than others, some will pay lipservice and be cute-little-boy nasty behind your back).

If you want to be executive chef - ignore the psychological set-up they are providing for you, ignore the jokes and just look blank-faced if challenged with them. Simply do not hear what they are saying if it bothers you. Spend your time focusing with a deadly loving charm on what you want and need to learn about producing the food. You say the exec chef does not hold your hand. Then deal with him as much as you can. If the guys want to "baby" you, take their help with a smile and continue to do what you need to do to do "more".

With time, they will stop "babying" you or helping you unless they are the ones that have true friendship to offer rather than the ones that offer a simpering coddling that makes them feel stronger than you.

It comes down to one question at a certain point: Do you want to be liked? Or do you want to be respected.

If you want to be respected play your own game, not theirs.

It can be a much pleasanter game in the long run when you win, too, because then you will have the power to not have to just smile at moronic juvenile fisting jokes but rather to set a standard for a more friendly and equitable atmosphere in your own kitchen, the kitchen that you run. :wink:

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Curse like a sailor, drink like a mick, your only words of wisdom being "suck my dick"

Tell the dirtiest jokes, bleed the most, slam the oven door the hardest, keep the cleanest station,  get your mise done first then help them with theirs, pull them out of the shit over and over, use your kitchen spanish liberaly, then once they stop being a bunch of sexist pigs, repeat.

Word...

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Curse like a sailor, drink like a mick, your only words of wisdom being "suck my dick"

Tell the dirtiest jokes, bleed the most, slam the oven door the hardest, keep the cleanest station,  get your mise done first then help them with theirs, pull them out of the shit over and over, use your kitchen spanish liberaly, then once they stop being a bunch of sexist pigs, repeat.

Word...

I don't think she should have to, guys.

It doesn't sound like it's the sort of thing she enjoys.

Many women do not enjoy behaving that way and truly they should not have to become the thing to supposedly stop the thing.

Copycat assholes to equal or top assholes?

The work is what is important, not the macho environment. Let the boys play with themselves that want to play with themselves - her focus can be on other things if she wants to and she can survive and thrive without bowing to the shithouse asskick culture.

The loop will not always be the loop and it is escapable.

Oh. P.S. Had to ask myself why I think she doesn't have to do what is advised in terms of copycatting the environment that disturbs her in order to succeed. I guess the answer would be that what I advised her to do worked for me.

And when I was then Exec Chef that charming Mine-Is-Bigger-Than-Yours atmosphere was not encouraged or really even allowed in the kitchen. Cooperation and striving for better food and a happier place to work, was.

All depends on what one wants. To be One of the Guys or to be One's Own Self.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Just do the job. Don't put up with any foolishness. They will get it and either get on board or get out of the way.

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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If someone dises you like that (seemingly well intentioned of course :rolleyes: ) umm, make eye contact with someone else in the immediate vicinity and say, "I hate to be patronized." This is a non-threatening way to get your message across and folks can retain thier egos. Nobody gets stepped on. Too badly.

:rolleyes: >> yeah this is good too, roll your eyes at them.

These ideas are a little bit less extreme than getting so down & dirty & becoming one of the boys.

Turn it back around on them and expect them to take out the trash for you or something, whatever. Have fun with it. Make them suffer. Toy with them. Some.

Be beyond it because you are not because you stomped them flat or changed who you are.

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And Ladies, how do you get them to understand that a joke about fisting someones sister is not shocking..

Sounds like they're trying to be polite in your presence.... maybe it is the female thing.... maybe they're not used to working alongside a woman and don't know how to act. I say let them be themselves (which it sounds like you're prepared to do anyways) and you should act like your usual self. If you're comfortable with the jokes, laugh or join in; if you're not, tell them matter of factly when one goes too far. But don't try to "become one of the guys" if that's not who you really are.

As for the hand-holding, either they're trying to help you, or they're patronising you, or they're testing the waters to see how much bullying you'll take. If it's the latter, my advice when pushed is to push back, otherwise it'll just keep escalating. If they're just patronising you, don't worry, they'll eventually get bored of it.

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"give a girl a break"

If you want people to stop holding your hand, be a better cook. That's it. You can't hold someone's hand if they're a mile aheahd of you.

Stop referring to yourself as a girl...

It sounds like you have a lot of industry experiance- so just take the time and prove it. All anybody cares about is weather you can get your work done.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I think that every FNG gets their hand held for a while in most kitchens. I also think that your performance will gain you the amount of respect that you deserve. It will probably always take longer for you to get that respect than you think it should, because you are a woman. Don't get me wrong, I have great respect for women and especially one that can throw down in the kitchen. The majority of the guys who do this, do it, and don't realize it. It probably is not intentional. If you are patient I am sure it will pass, and if it doesn't, it needs to be addressed.

I think the best way to bring up the issue is over a round of drinks after a shift. "Seriously guys, what's with the f*#cking hand holding?" This will force them to face the issue or at least realize that there is one.

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And Ladies, how do you get them to understand that a joke about fisting someones sister is not shocking..we're cooks for Christ sake. We've heard/seen it all!

Sure. But still, when some cook makes jokes about having sex with underaged girls, that's where I draw the line. I'm not one of the boys.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Curse like a sailor, drink like a mick, your only words of wisdom being "suck my dick"

Didn't you mean "Radio Edit?" :hmmm:

Tell the dirtiest jokes, bleed the most, slam the oven door the hardest, keep the cleanest station,  get your mise done first then help them with theirs, pull them out of the shit over and over, use your kitchen spanish liberaly, then once they stop being a bunch of sexist pigs, repeat.

Love it! And I agree, especially with pulling their butts out of the weeds, once your stuff is done.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Let me clear this up...I'm a Sous Chef.

I'm 28 and alot of guys don't want to listen to some punk ass kid....

But how do you guys feel about ladies in the kitchen?

Does it take longer to read them? Warm-up to them? Do you expect more or less from them on the line? Is sex at all an issue? Is race? Sexuality? Honestly?

I've honestly in the past been a bit skeptical of ladies in the kitchen. As silly as that sounds.

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But how do you guys feel about ladies in the kitchen?
The ones I've known really wanted to be there and it showed. I bust my butt for anyone on the team regardless of gender, race or sexual preference - unless some disrespect or dishonesty snuffs the deal, then you got a problem.

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Let me clear this up...I'm a Sous Chef.

I'm 28 and alot of guys don't want to listen to some punk ass kid....

But how do you guys feel about ladies in the kitchen?

Does it take longer to read them? Warm-up to them? Do you expect more or less from them on the line? Is sex at all an issue? Is race? Sexuality? Honestly?

I've honestly in the past been a bit skeptical of ladies in the kitchen. As silly as that sounds.

I thought it was silly, too, that certain people just couldn't make themselves treat me the same as everyone else. Since in my last few jobs I'm older than everyone else, and in one case the only straight female in the place, the "boinkable" factor wasn't there, and some men (and women) ignored me. My favorite chefs treated me the same as everyone else.

As long as you see them as "ladies in the kitchen," you'll have some learning to do. Treat your cooks like your cooks!

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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So you honestly don't see a difference in male and female cooks?

How the respond to certain direction, how they veiw food, how they think and feel?

I've thought about this a lot, and applied it to a professional kitchen, and to professional cooks. Competent, professional cooks.

For every "typically female" response from a woman, I can think of a few guys who've responded the same. I think viewing food as an art or simply a commodity is not a female or male response. and for every woman I've seen cry when the chef yells at her, another one digs in. And I've seen men cry, too.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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You know, I happen to be an executive chef, and a woman. I was interviewing for sous chefs, and I e-mailed back and forth with a very promising candidate. When he realized I was a woman, he wrote back. Screw this job. I don't F'ing work for chicks. You can work for me, if you could handle it.

So...there you go...

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I've been cooking for almost ten years now at some pretty swanky places. I recently started a new job and everyone here (sans the ex.chef) is holding my hand. I know what I'm doing...I act like I know what I'm doing..why the babying.

I hate to pull this card but is it because I'm a woman?

My question is, how do other cooks (male ) feel about woman in the kitchen?

And Ladies, how do you get them to understand that a joke about fisting someones sister is not shocking..we're cooks for Christ sake. We've heard/seen it all!

First let me say that I don't work in a restaurant but I don't understand why working in a kitchen is different from working anywhere else. What other working environment would tolerate a joke such as the one you describe? Why is it permitted in a restaurant? I'm not trying to be difficult; I just want to understand why restaurant kitchens are as you describe and why this is (apparently) acceptable. :shock:
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As long as your station is prepped on time, clean during service, your food is out on time, it looks the way I want it, and is properly seasoned you can be whatever the hell you want...male, female, space alien, cthulhu, etc....

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I've been cooking for almost ten years now at some pretty swanky places. I recently started a new job and everyone here (sans the ex.chef) is holding my hand. I know what I'm doing...I act like I know what I'm doing..why the babying.

I hate to pull this card but is it because I'm a woman?

My question is, how do other cooks (male ) feel about woman in the kitchen?

And Ladies, how do you get them to understand that a joke about fisting someones sister is not shocking..we're cooks for Christ sake. We've heard/seen it all!

First let me say that I don't work in a restaurant but I don't understand why working in a kitchen is different from working anywhere else. What other working environment would tolerate a joke such as the one you describe? Why is it permitted in a restaurant? I'm not trying to be difficult; I just want to understand why restaurant kitchens are as you describe and why this is (apparently) acceptable. :shock:

This is acceptable in many other fields that I can think of (artist studios, construction sites, auto garage, bars, ect.). That being said, it doesn't make it o.k. The people who make those jokes, and I have heard the same kind of jokes from women in the kitchen, are lacking any since of professionalism, and are obviously not serious enough about their chosen feild. It is a simple lack of respect for their fellow employees, and for what great chefs before them have done to change the reputation of the industry.

Some may say that this point of view is to serious and I need to lighten up, but I am very serious about my job. It is something I love, and I hate to see others degrading what it means to be a chef.

Edited by kpzachary (log)
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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow! This topic has the potential to become very volatile very quickly.

I can't say that I haven't felt my share of needing to prove myself in a new job, and for as much sexism that seems to be prevalent in the kitchen, I must say I've been treated with disrespect or lack of trust by women and men alike.

I think despite the temptations the best way to avoid something becoming a problem is not to acknowledge it. If it's not your style to tell dirty jokes, don't tell them just to fit in with the "boys" (or girls for that matter). Remember, never let them see you sweat! In time, the work will speak for itself.

Good Luck

Stephanie Crocker

Sugar Bakery + Cafe

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I've met many female cooks and chefs who could cook most male cooks and chefs I've met under the table.

I think that if males won't act respectful and professional around women (and other men, and children, etc) then it reflects poorly on them and no one else.

That's one thing I can't stand is unprofessionalism (is that a word, LOL), male, female, whatever...

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Let me clear this up...I'm a Sous Chef.

I'm 28 and alot of guys don't want to listen to some punk ass kid....

But how do you guys feel about ladies in the kitchen?

Does it take longer to read them? Warm-up to them? Do you expect more or less from them on the line? Is sex at all an issue? Is race? Sexuality? Honestly?

I've honestly in the past been a bit skeptical of ladies in the kitchen. As silly as that sounds.

Are you kidding me? Perhaps the only one in the kitchen having a problem with your sex, is you. Work clean, work fast, cook awesome food, and everything else is secondary.I have spent most of my professional career being the only woman in the kitchen. I don't have the time nor the desire to sit around wondering if my coworkers are treating me differently because I am a woman. I love my job, I do it well that is really all that matters. Stop perseverating about it and get to work!

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