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Can you tell the difference?


hathor
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If there was a blind tasting of a full meal, 5 courses, do you think you would be able to predict if the meal had been prepared by a man or a woman?

I think you can. I certainly know you can tell when a woman chef is at the stove...they make less noise...not as much pot banging and slamming.

I also think women have a lighter touch, more intuitive with how to use vegetables. (I'm thinking of the wonderful women chef at I Sette Consoli in Orvieto, Anna Rita Simoncini Mauro Stopponi. Her flavors are full and rich, but there is a certain overall lightness.)

So, can I ignite a man v. woman chef contest? Or have I just given the Food Networks a great idea for free?

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Oh my, what a bold thread to start. I'm guessing the men and women of eG won't let you down . . .

My answer is: No way, not a chance, gender has nothing to do with it - unless the preparer wants it to.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I was watching The Next Iron Chef last night and found myself asking the same question. I noticed that I could tell the female chefs dishes on Top Chef also. I actually pondered this for a while and was unable to come up with a reason why, but yes, it seems that I could make a reasonably acurate guess. Of course, in all gender issues, there will be exceptions to the rules. I personally am not a "delicate" cook, rather robust in flavors and daring with exploration. (and I do a lot of pot-banging in the kitchen) It did appear though, that all of the female chefs I have noticed lately, seem to be delicate, precise, gentle in flavors, and composed at nearly all times. I think that would translate onto each dish presented and subtly give away the chef. This is a mighty can of worms opened, but a subject that I am sure all of us have thought about on occasion. Very thought provocative and intriguing topic.

Brenda

I whistfully mentioned how I missed sushi. Truly horrified, she told me "you city folk eat the strangest things!", and offered me a freshly fried chitterling!

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Another one for the "I hope not" camp. I don't go for that "Men overdo presentation, because they feel the need to show off" thing - That's stupid.

Well, why is it that the whole molecular gastronomy thing is heavily weighted towards male chefs? Are there any female chefs foaming, powdering and gassing?

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Another one for the "I hope not" camp. I don't go for that "Men overdo presentation, because they feel the need to show off" thing - That's stupid.

Well, why is it that the whole molecular gastronomy thing is heavily weighted towards male chefs? Are there any female chefs foaming, powdering and gassing?

Females foaming, powdering and gassing?

Your single aren't you?

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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Another one for the "I hope not" camp. I don't go for that "Men overdo presentation, because they feel the need to show off" thing - That's stupid.

Well, why is it that the whole molecular gastronomy thing is heavily weighted towards male chefs? Are there any female chefs foaming, powdering and gassing?

Females foaming, powdering and gassing?

Your single aren't you?

You'd think so (actually just had a wedding anniversary :wub: ) But really, I think there is a little bit of ego stroking with the molecular acts of magic. Our DC food critic recently raised a few brows when he nodded to a female chef's more restrained treatment of her food. He felt there was a difference.

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While you pretty much have to read the thread to get it completely in context, this was an interesting comment made by Ann Cashion in DC (disclosure-she's a really good friend of mine)Cashion on difference between men and women chefs)

Edited by Mayhaw Man (log)

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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If there was a blind tasting of a full meal, 5 courses, do you think you would be able to predict if the meal had been prepared by a man or a woman?

I think you can. I certainly know you can tell when a woman chef is at the stove...they make less noise...not as much pot banging and slamming.

I also think women have a lighter touch, more intuitive with how to use vegetables. (I'm thinking of the wonderful women chef at I Sette Consoli in Orvieto, Anna Rita Simoncini Mauro Stopponi. Her flavors are full and rich, but there is a certain overall lightness.)

So, can I ignite a man v. woman chef contest?  Or have I just given the Food Networks a great idea for free?

I don't think theres much of a difference between male and female chefs, I think stuff like culinary heritage, ethnicity, experience, etc..., all play a much larger role.

For instance, I worked with a Hungarian woman who used pretty much all meat, tons of fat, starch and strong flavours (lots of paprika!). I worked with a BC woman who used mostly vegetables, low-fat cooking techniques, but lots of experimental flavours.

My personal style - I'm an absolute technique freak. My style is quite simple, but I pride myself on precise cooking of vegetables, meats, and very savoury flavours. I grew up on nothing but Ukrainian food, it definitely comes through in my cooking - lots of balance between sweet/sour/salt/fat flavours. My pastries are the same - simple, precise technique, but a more savoury flavour than most. Not to mention the ingredients I like to use - all are present in colder climates... (and stuff I grew up on)

I've never been a fan of molecular gastronomy (although I am very familiar with it, and have done all the foams and whatnot for chefs I worked with) - I do think that it's more about show than about eating. I'd rather have a perfectly cooked roast with great vegetables than an el Bulli creation... But all this has to do with my upbringing - I was never the most adventurous eater early on having been only exposed to one style of cooking.

As for guys feeling the need to 'show off', I think alot of it has to do with a person's own insecurities than anything. I know my food is good enough that I don't need to garnish it with anything - every single component on the plate has a place, nothing is there for show. I've met plenty of insecure cooks, male and female, that over-garnished everything.

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If there was a blind tasting of a full meal, 5 courses, do you think you would be able to predict if the meal had been prepared by a man or a woman?

I think there's at least one logic problem with the question. "Prepared by" simply means the person cooked the meal. It doesn't mean he or she designed the recipes. I think the answer to the question "If two examples of the same dish were placed before you, could you tell which was cooked by a woman?" is surely no.

Now, when you get into the realm of invention, maybe there's more to look at in terms of personality, temperament, culture, etc. I suppose you might, at that level, be able to identify traits that lean male or female, just as you might be able to identify traits that lean young or old, French or American, etc. But I'm not sure what that proves -- I guess it proves that some women cook in an identifiably feminine style and some don't. The same is true for writing, as George Eliot pretty well demonstrated 150 years ago.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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While you pretty much have to read the thread to get it completely in context, this was an interesting comment made by Ann Cashion in DC (disclosure-she's a really good friend of mine)Cashion on difference between men and women chefs)

Everyone, treat yourselves to reading the whole chat with Chef Cashion. It is insightful and beautifully written.

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I think the taste of the preparer has more to do with it than the gender.

My opinion only.

Well wouldn't you say that men and women have differing palates?

"In a perfect world, cooks who abuse fine cutlery would be locked in a pillory and pelted with McNuggets."

- Anthony Bourdain

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Why would men and women have differing palates?

To answer the question, no, I don't think I could tell the difference between something prepared by a man and something prepared by a woman. I'm not even sure what I would be looking for that would differentiate the food. I'm sure that the differences in food preparation styles within each group are just as great as the differences between groups.

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I think the taste of the preparer has more to do with it than the gender.

My opinion only.

Well wouldn't you say that men and women have differing palates?

No more than any two people chosen at random, regardless of gender. A woman from Bangladesh and myself would have very differing palates - however that would not exclude enjoyment of each other's food.

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I don't think you can tell the chef's or cook's gender or race or culture, and if you try to guess then sometimes you'll be correct and feel smug or you'll be incorrect and surprised.

This is because there are men and women cooking in the different ways and people of all origins trying various cuisines or doing 'fusion'.

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Why would men and women have differing palates?

Why wouldn't men and women have differing palates, when we're biologically different in so many other ways? Women definitely have a more acute sense of smell than men once a month, and may have a more acute sense of smell overall. I know that for me, this means that I smell and taste components that my husband is unable to detect. I have no idea how this affects my cooking, but it seems impossible that it wouldn't.

Edit: When I say that I smell and taste things my husband can't detect, I definitely don't mean this is in any way superior. In fact, most of the time I'm smelling or tasting something I wish I couldn't.

Edited by Dianabanana (log)
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