Yummy bits and bobs from my kitchen!
The proffessional kitchen is fast pased, hard phisical work and can be brimming with banter, but does this mean that its destined to be a bit of a boys club?
Parsuing my career as a pro in the kitchen isn’t always easy. being entirely self taught and having no contacts to go to for advice means that im sometimes a bit unsure if im good enough or how to go about things. I recently came up against another problem as one interview left me feeling slightly confused and uncertain about what to do next. My intrview had ended with the head chef telling me that the interview had gone well, and that I came accross as capable, however he had feelings of ‘trepidation’ about hiering a female to his all male team. The idea of working with men, who might have a bit of banter didnt bother me and I was offered a trial, but warned that the team was all male and that I probably wouldnt like it. Although I was kind of nervous, and uncertain if I wanted to work with people who didnt realy want me around, I accepted and did the trial. Afterwards, I was toled that the trial had gone well, but that I was up against three males.
Not supprisingly, I didnt get that job – I didnt even get a rejection, I was just left hanging. Given that I had done a day of free work, I was atleast expecting to get a rejection call. The whole experience got me thinking. I’d been working at my local Wetherspoon for about 6 months and being a girl was just never an issue- being a team player was the important thing. Now that I’d tried to go into a higher end cheffing environment , I was finding that being female did leave people scratching their heads and wondering if I was really upto it.
The vast majority of chefs in the UK and US ARE male- this is partly down to what the guardian describes as the very “macho culture” of the kitchen and the “punishing” work regime. Admittedly the long and unsociable hours aren’t something I love, and I’ve had to accept that having nicely manicured nails and a pretty hairstyle on work days is entirely off the cards. These kinds of things mean that women have to pick between being the best in their field or living a girly lifestyle… damn.
Aswell as this, there is a train of thought that women just cant cut it or arent creative enough. The independant recently reported that accomplished chef and tv peronality Tom Kerridge believes that women dont have the “fire in […] the belly” that a chef needs to make it through a really challenging service.Delia Smith, Ravinder Bhogal, Nigella Lawson, Clarissa Dixon Write and Jennifer Patterson of The Two Fat Ladies have all earned their stripes as famous female chefs and found their way onto tv to show off their expertees.None of them however have presented themselfs as proffessionals in the same way that their chef white clad male counterparts have. They all appear in a domestic setting, where as male chefs like Gordon Ramsey and Raymond Blanc frequently present their programmes from the setting of a busy resteraunt kitchen, in full chefs uniform.
But does this actually mean that woman just aren’t supposed to be pros, dealing with the “war zone” (Tom Kerridg’s words… NOT mine) of a pro kitchen? Even if you think that genorally, women cant hack it, and men can, you cant deny women like Clare Smyth – head chef at Gordon Ramsay’s three michalin stared resteraunt (the immaginativeky named) ‘Gorndon Ramsay’. As it stands, maybe being a chef might not suit all women… for that matter, I doubt it suits most men either. there are however a number of brilliant chefs from both genders, who you simply can not disreguard just because gender steryotypes say you can.
Basically im not going to try to release a mouthload of femminist theory on you. Im not going to try to change your mind on the nature of the masculine and the feminine, because there is plenty of writing online about that already.Ii however feel capable at my job. my inadiquasies are not because im a lady, but because im still pretty new. For me the bottom line for me is that no kitchen equipment is operated using the genitles (…not that I’ve seen anyway) so I really dont think its possible to say that a persons sex determines their ability in the kitchen.
Since starting this article, I did infact get another job, and im loving it. Im now working in a rather lovely french resaurant in the middle of Bath. Being a girl doesnt get me off the hook for any of my screw ups but also doesnt get my team mates underestimating me.