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JAZ

Women and men in the pro kitchen

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Kitchen Confidential and other kitchen memoirs I've read are written from a very definitely male point of view, and while interesting, I imagine they're only half of the kitchen story. What's your experience working with men and women in professional kitchens? What are the differences, the similarities? How about some insight into the female professional chef's point of view?


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
Manager
jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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I worked in kitchens with all men, all women and a mix. All men is difficult because they torture you all the time and act surperior. All women is a disaster because they get on the same cycle and have a collective melt down once a month. The mix is the best.

As for how they perform in the kitchen (and now I am going to get myself in deep doo doo) I find that women are much better at multi tasking and much more even keel. The guys in cooking school always told me women weren't suited for work in restaurant kitchens because they couldn't stand the pressure or the heat, and couldn't lift the pots.

I ask you, can you imagine a man going through labor? Or taking care of the kids, ordering the groceries, cleaning the house, managing the household affairs and holding down a full time job at the same time? Don't get me wrong, there are many men out there who do all of the above but they are the exception not the rule. Women are genetically wired for staying calm under pressure. And who needs braun to strain a heavy pot full of stock when you have a brain to set up a pivot with a partner.

I experienced this clearly at restaurant Cybele's in Boston where I was the chef

in the late 70's early 80's. On a busy night a waiter might come back with a rack of lamb that a customer wanted cooked just a little more. The male line cook would scream at the waiter and call him all sorts of names, throw the rack of lamb back on the broiler it, incinerate it, let is sit for awhile to get cold and then return it to the waiter with more expletives. The female line cook would simply take the lamb, cook it a little more and return it to the waiter calmly without missing a beat.


Sara Moulton

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