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Women in a Restaurant Kitchen


cdabney
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I am a career change chef - now exec sous and work for a woman exec chef- was in the Business world for 10 yrs - my exec chef can out cook lots of people - she is funny and great and a good person - does she tell raunchy jokes - yep and I just shake my head and blush becasue I wrote a sexual harassment manual in the business world and it breaks all of my personal rules....but I have no trouble - lots do though. I worked as a sous for a chef in VA and he looked down on women unless they were drop dead gorgeous and then when it came to skill - looks did not matter he was tougher on them than me....I enjoy women in the kitchen nice looking or not - they bring a lot to the kitchen. Right now I am helping a 24 yr old new female cook that wants to learn culinary skills - she is great and I think it is a great thing - just like physicians - nurses don't have to be female they can be doctors too in a very male dominated occupation - so you go girl and figure out a great place that you fit in and if you have to job jump to find it - do it.

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All of the kitchens that I've worked in have had female chefs in them. Some good and some bad. The ones that get the rubbish from the other chefs (not just the male ones) are those who are lazy or disorganised etc. I've worked with plenty of lazy and disorganised male chefs too, and they end up getting just as much hassle.

I wonder if its the case that in order to gain the respect of some chefs, women have to prove that they're capable whereas men have the respect already but can certainly prove that they're not capable? This is obviously profoundly unfair but would back up the point of view that they'll come around.

The method of pulling them out of the weeds when you've finished your MEP is also great for some people, but there are also the proud losers who don't like being shown to be behind by being helped by someone else, and the chauvanistic losers who don't like being helped by a woman.

I prefer to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You may be talking to someone who knows a hell of a lot more than you about a technique and when someone is able to help you accept it graciously because next week you could be in an even bigger hole that you currently are and you'll need it then!

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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!

if you're a cutie that might answer the hand holding .... heheh just a thought..

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if you're a cutie that might answer the hand holding .... heheh  just a thought..

True -- I saw that a few times. I'm no cutie, though, but I even found in Culinary school -- when I'd enrolled after cooking professionally for 20 years -- that the boys who'd been on a line for 2 years always were taking my knife out of my hands and trying to show me how it was done. None of them ever showed me anything different or new, they just assumed I was clueless. They generally made a big show of steeling their knives and racing back and forth.

Edited to add: Taking my knive out of my hands to show me how it was done happened once per cooking team. :wink: Quelle B.S.!

Edited by FabulousFoodBabe (log)
"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Speaking as a programmer in a mostly male office, let me say this-- my group of co workers are a pretty abusive bunch as seen by outsiders. We insult, talk trash and constantly pick at each other (mostly to burn off stress, but it's entertaining, call us immature if you like, but doing our job without blowing off steam makes for more stress than i like) lately we've been taking lunch with some of our other co workers, one being a young lady who we somewhat tiptoed around, right up until she started throwing verbal darts at one of us who'd slipped up and said something slightly suggestive. (after which we warmed right up to her as part of our group)

Perhaps my group of co workers is different but it seems in most situations like that the easiest way to stop folks from tiptoeing around is to trip them a few times :)

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Speaking as a programmer in a mostly male office, let me say this-- my group of co workers are a pretty abusive bunch as seen by outsiders. We insult, talk trash and constantly pick at each other (mostly to burn off stress, but it's entertaining, call us immature if you like, but doing our job without blowing off steam makes for more stress than i like)  lately we've been taking lunch with some of our other co workers, one being a young lady who we somewhat tiptoed around, right up until she started throwing verbal darts at one of us who'd slipped up and said something slightly suggestive. (after which we warmed right up to her as part of our group) 

Perhaps my group of co workers is different but it seems in most situations like that the easiest way to stop folks from tiptoeing around is to trip them a few times :)

Malkavian, if it weren't for the fact that you are from North Carolina, I'd have thought that I was the "young lady" in your anecdote! As a female programmer on predominantly male teams, I've found that a sharp wit/tongue helps, as does working until 2 in the morning to solve production problems, even if it wasn't my code that produced the problem. And, if someone ever gives me a hard time, i'll just give it right back....

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

Now, my, personally, I've never had any issues with the general idea of women in professional kitchens (I've only had issues with one before, and that was a professional/personality clash, nothing to do with gender on my part). I've never seen anything in the way of babying or harassment, and i've worked in a few mosh-pit-esque kitchens (when I read "Kitchen Confidential", I spent most of the time nodding my head in agreement).

Granted, it might have had something to do with most of the women I've worked with being much much scarier than the men, :wink: but I had a number of women in my class in school and personally, I had no issues, tho I'll admit that perhaps a few of my male classmates did (something that I found incomprehensible).

Dunno, me, I'm gender-blind in such areas (and in pretty much all others, except for...preference).

Sincerely,

Dante

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I really enjoy working for a woman exec and I really enjoy the female line cook we have. We have more fun than the other places I have been, but that being said. I would stack my exec boss up against anyone. I mean I think she could beat up most people I know! She is scandanvian and has 25 yrs in the business and is very smart and level headed and can run the line with ease. But I have never had trouble other than one time in the non food business and the woman boss I worked with was very intimidated by my common sense. After getting a terrible performance review from her - HER boss hired me and Communications Director and Special Assistant making her report to me. I never thought a thing about it because I am not that kind of guy, but looking back now I really had her over a barrel.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm a 20 year old female, seriously considering a career in the restaurant kitchen.

How tough would I have to be and how tough is it for a young female in a professional kitchen?

~ Sher * =]

. . . . .I HEART FOOD. . . . .

Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy. - Anon

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Are you mistaking a restaurant with an honest to god training program for babying? Most places show you a couple of things and throw you to the wolves. Maybe this place has its crap together and actually trains people. Training can seem demeaning or beneath you if you have experience and know what you are doing, but its still smart to go through it with everyone because some people say they know what they are doing and then you later find out they are borderline retarded.

If they are truely babying you and you want it to stop, just start making semi-snide remarks when they try to show you something, but be certain that they dont have anything they can teach you later because they most likely will stop "helping you" altogether. Something like "Oh my god... are you serious, I think I learned that 8 years ago", or "Did they teach you that while you were working at McDonalds? Who doesnt know that?"

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I'm a 20 year old female, seriously considering a career in the restaurant kitchen.

How tough would I have to be and how tough is it for a young female in a professional kitchen?

If you are considering a career, work for free for at least 6 months in a really good place and then you will know weather you can handle it or not. You can't just go to culinary school and expect to be ready for a high end or any good restaurant. You need lots of hands on experience weather male or female. You will have fun days and bad days, but you will learn a lot.

And if the guys give you shit make sure you learn how to talk shit back. They like that for some reason.

Good luck!

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  • 1 month later...

I've worked in the kitchens since I was 20 years old, and haven't had too much trouble with not being taken seriously. I have been at places where male kitchen staff are treated differently than female staff, but this can take all kinds of forms:

At one place, the exec chef would verbally abuse the male staff, and then when he came across one of the girls it'd be "Good morning dear, how are you?" all formal and polite.

The hiring procedure was funny too, guys interview consisted of "You're hired...fuck up and you're fired." Girls got a full sit down interview and grand tour of the kitchen, pastry kitchen and various storage areas. I hate job interviews, so I'd love the "You're hired, fuck up and you're fired." sooo much better.

Currently, I seem to be thought of as bad-tempered at work, even though one of the male chefs is Mr. Mood Swing and the other throws (quite literally, as in duck from flying objects) a good tantrum once in a while. The source of my "rep" seems to be the fact that I'm willing to let people know when they've pissed me off (even the boss) and that I have two X chromosomes. And I've never thrown anything at anyone ever, honest!

If only I'd worn looser pants....

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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.

this man/woman speaks the truth

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Elisa Roche, from the 1st season of Jamie's Kitchen, wrote an article on sexism in the kitchen.

From Wiki

An article written by Elisa Roche about bullying in the catering industry for the Guardian newspaper now forms part of the national curriculum. "If you can't stand the heat... get some balls" is now used as a study paper by English GCSE students.

(FWIW, Jamie's Kitchen just started airing in Japan a few weeks ago, so it's all new to me!)

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Women are viewed as a liability in the kitchen, regardless of what anyone wants to say or admit. Is this 100% true, not a chance. However, there are many things wrong with society, so just work hard and prove people wrong.

i think this is your point of view, certainly not "regardless of what anyone wants to say or admit". i've never felt this bias in any of the kitchens where i've worked. for the most part, i've been asked to come back to just about every job i've left because i WASN'T a liability...regardless of my gender...i don't drink or do drugs or take smoke breaks every five minutes...these are the people who are the liability NOT the hard workers (male or female).

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  • 3 weeks later...

It never bothered me being one of only a couple of females in a big, male dominated kitchen. Yes, we were probably treated a bit differently, but that generally meant that one of the blokes would carry over the 20kg bags of flour from the stores, that we avoided having to clean out the fat fryer and the extractor units. to be honest, a little sexism is preferable in my eyes to spending the afternoon scrubbing out a fryer.

I'd rather be treated courteously out of sexism than rudely and sworn at, just for the sake of some sort of "equality".

www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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It never bothered me being one of only a couple of females in a big, male dominated kitchen. Yes, we were probably treated a bit differently, but that generally meant that one of the blokes would carry over the 20kg bags of flour from the stores, that we avoided having to clean out the fat fryer and the extractor units. to be honest, a little sexism is preferable in my eyes to spending the afternoon scrubbing out a fryer.

I'd rather be treated courteously out of sexism than rudely and sworn at, just for the sake of some sort of "equality".

I would think having more women in the kitchen would prevent more "Gordon Ramsey" Style "Kitchen Nightmares". Women as a whole tend to tolerate a sub-standard kitchen and cleanliness a lot less.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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