Alice Laussade wrote a piece in the Dallas Observer about the “12 Female Dallas Chefs” dinner that CBD Provisions is hosting in Dallas on Sunday, May 1st and asks the question, “But Why Are We Still Calling Them 'Female Chefs'?"
She missed the point entirely.
Everyone, including COOKGIRL, would love for this to be something that we no longer need to focus on. But for every single person who has an eye-rolling response to showcasing female chefs, there are two people who get it. Get that female chefs operate in what has historically been a male-focused industry. Get that women chefs tend to get less press than their male counterpoints, which in turn creates an obstacle to getting funding for their equally awesome restaurant or food industry ideas. Capital follows buzz. Creating more buzz for female chefs is exactly what needs to happen.
As Iliana Regan, recently named to Food & Wine’s Best New Chef list (the only woman on the list for 2016) for her Michelin-starred Elizabeth Restaurant in Chicago, said: "I do think it’s true that it’s harder for women to get investors, but I’m not sure why. There must be some bro code I’m not privy to. I might be wrong, but I’m pretty darn certain this could be statistically proven. Pure persistence is the key, and simply pushing forward no matter what."
The 2016 Winner of Best Female Chef, presented by the group that created the “World’s 50 Best Restaurants”, is Dominique Crenn for her incredible restaurants in San Francisco, Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn. When asked about an award that was specifically designated as “female”, she said this: "If it's called Best Female Chef, it's an award to bring awareness. I'm looking at the award this way: We still need to do a lot of work. And as you know, I've been doing a lot of forums that bring women together and empower us. It's not just about the food industry; it's a societal problem in general."
So no, gender is not the same as identifying "two tall, 35-year-old, vaping, tattooed white dudes and one shorter dude" or "Seven Bearded Dudes Who Refuse To Tweeze!” as Alice Laussade jokes in her piece. Because those events are actually called “Almost Every Other Chef Event.”
And Carolanne Treadwell of CBD Provisions should not have defend her decision to create a marketing platform for women. We spend a lot of time apologizing for showcasing people who deserve the spotlight. We don’t think there is one male chef who thinks it’s unfair that the Dallas event showcases only female talent. Because if it wasn’t “12 Female Dallas Chefs” it would simply be “11 Male and 1 Female Dallas Chefs Dinner.”
We don’t need to look at this as “a habit that needs to be broken.”
Let’s embrace the badass, talented, cutting-edge and ballsy women in the culinary world until there are as many of them as there are men in the ranks of Executive Chef across the country. Because for now 7% of that total is simply not enough.
Here are the Badass Chefs: