Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
jm chen

Women in the (Restaurant) Kitchen

Recommended Posts

Good comments all. Gul, I especially agree with the masculine environment of most kitchens as a key barrier to keeping women out.

Just to give some historical context to "masculine environment" in kitchens it has it's roots in Escoffier's kitchen hierachy/battalion that's based on his experience as an army cook. Some of you are writing about the topic, so it's a good idea to know a little more about the topic.

I'd also like to mention that the last ktichen staff that I hired as a consultant had 3 women and 2 men. About half of my students are female. I think I remember just one in the entire school from own days as a student and she dropped out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Good comments all. Gul, I especially agree with the masculine environment of most kitchens as a key barrier to keeping women out.

Just to give some historical context to "masculine environment" in kitchens it has it's roots in Escoffier's kitchen hierachy/battalion that's based on his experience as an army cook. Some of you are writing about the topic, so it's a good idea to know a little more about the topic.

Actually I did read Escoffier's memoirs and his biography while doing research for my term paper. However, I think the prejudice against women being in kitchens outside the domestic household goes further back to around the period of the French Revolution. At least according to sociologist Stephen Mannell, who described that only the less well-to-do members of the bourgeoisie at the time would settle for a woman cook to take charge of their kitchens.

While about Les Meres Chefs of Lyon, I think there could also be a certain degree of male bias about the telling of their story. The bias being, well, their story isn't being told as often as their male contemporaries! I mean Brazier was a contemporary of Fernand Point, and also mentor to chefs like Bocuse, but her name isn't usually mentioned within the same breath as Point when people talk about the great chefs in history. Which I guess is a shame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I mean Brazier was a contemporary of Fernand Point, and also mentor to chefs like Bocuse, but her name isn't usually mentioned within the same breath as Point when people talk about the great chefs in history. Which I guess is a shame.

I see your points.

Eugenie Brazier wrote "Les secrets de la mère Brazier". Amazon says it's out of print and unavailable. It's available on fnac.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While about Les Meres Chefs of Lyon, I think there could also be a certain degree of male bias about the telling of their story. The bias being, well, their story isn't being told as often as their male contemporaries! I mean Brazier was a contemporary of Fernand Point, and also mentor to chefs like Bocuse, but her name isn't usually mentioned within the same breath as Point when people talk about the great chefs in history. Which I guess is a shame.

Not mentioned by who? People who don't know about Les Meres, which doesn't represent French chefs of Lyon. Where's the bias? You have to know about her in order to speak about her. She's well known in France, not in the English speaking world where such discussions seem to be more common. Maybe she should hire a publicist. There is nothing inherently more exclusionary in commercial kitchens than there is in society at large at any given time in history. Some of the opinions expressed upthread seem to be looking at the commercial kitchen in a vacuum.

There are lots of female writers (or men like me who care about food and food history without concern for gender or color or creed) who can do some research before writing. Write about Les Meres and Chef Brazier, rather than focusing on what is not there. Okay, write about what is not there, but do more in depth research and write about what was there. Maybe you might get some ideas into the "chauvinistic" males and encourage more females to enter the profession.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Not mentioned by who? People who don't know about Les Meres, which doesn't represent  French chefs of Lyon. Where's the bias? You have to know about her in order to speak about her. She's well known in France, not in the English speaking world where such discussions seem to be more common. Maybe she should hire a publicist. There is nothing inherently more exclusionary in commercial kitchens than there is in society at large at any given time in history. Some of the opinions expressed upthread seem to be looking at the commercial kitchen in a vacuum.

I suppose I was making the reference within a more popular context in mind. Specifically among people in the general public or at least those who have take an interest in the restaurant industry and its culture and history, who know about certain chefs because their histories were better documented (due to the fact that there were people who took enough of an interest to do so). I do admit I would probably be out of depth if you were referring to France. And yes, there certainly are a lot of other things that you could say happen outside the commercial kitchens as well. However, the topic of the discussion was about women in the restaurant kitchen which is why references were made within this context. Lastly, in reference to the last sentence of the quote, there's no reason to make this personal. I respect your opinion as it is, and will make an attempt to do better research next time.

There are lots of female writers (or men like me who care about food and food history without concern for gender or color or creed)  who can do some research before writing. Write about Les Meres and Chef Brazier, rather than focusing on what is not there. Okay, write about what is not there, but do more in depth research and write about what was there. Maybe you might get some ideas into the "chauvinistic" males and encourage more females to enter the profession.

I suppose it's one's choice whether or not to be concerned about gender, colour or creed in particular issues, but that doesnt mean these things never had an effect on the history of what one writes about. At least in Anthropology, I've been taught to acknowledged the existence of these issues but not so much that it's the only thing I'll keep looking at even if culture and society has moved on. Because it has! Biases exist in society, I personally think it's good to know about it in order to try to avoid it.

For the record, I'm a guy too. I certainly am not 'male-bashing' if that's what you meant. I did my term paper about the culture of the chef and how the profession has been viewed by society throughout history for an Anthropology course about popular culture. I chose to write about chefs in popular culture because I really am interested by the culture, and it has had an effect on popular culture in the West. I admit, maybe the research I have done might not have been thorough enough, but that doesn't mean I didn't do any research at all or for the matter, not taken it seriously. Besides, if I made my points on the forum with every single minute detail and reference, my post would be just as long as this one!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Lastly, in reference to the last sentence of the quote, there's no reason to make this personal. I respect your opinion as it is, and will make an attempt to do better research next time.

Apologies, I didn't mean to come off as making it personal. I didn't take it personally either. I gave professional examples of actual experiences.

At least in Anthropology, I've been taught to acknowledged the existence of these issues but not so much that it's the only thing I'll keep looking at even if culture and society has moved on. Because it has! Biases exist in society, I personally think it's good to know about it in order to try to avoid it.

Of course cultural biases exist. There are biases in the culture of egullet. :raz:

I don't think today/s kitchen has the extent of sexism that have been conjectured about in this thread or even much at all for that matter. Maybe in diners. I'm not responding to YOU here, I'm responding to some of the comments in this thread overall. The kitchen is a meritocracy. But I'm getting off topic.


Edited by chefzadi (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jael, I like your article but what I like best is your bio on Intrepid Media. :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

But it's not there anymore.

Yes it is. Look at "ABOUT JAEL MCHENRY" below the article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reviving an old topic to post that the February 2019 Issue of Southern Living magazine has a nice article titled "Women on Fire". Written by SL's BBQ Editor Robert Moss, the article is about 9 women "from pitmasters and cooks to entrepreneurs and teachers, lighting a new spark in Southern barbecue culture."

I think it's a good read and certainly speaks to the changing BOH in what has always seemed a man's domain.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×