New York magazine interviews seven top female NYC chefs to get to the bottom of a tangled mystery: Why are there so few of them? It’s not that women can’t cook; clearly, there’s something hinky afoot. A toxic cocktail of sexism in the kitchen and overwhelmingly male investors? A boys’ club that doesn’t actively block female advancement as much as it solely promotes its own golf and poker buddies?
Chefs including April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig), Rebecca Charles (Pearl Oyster Bar), and Alex Guarnaschelli (Butter) weigh in with their theories, informed by vivid anecdotes from the front lines. Says Bloomfield:
I didn’t want the fact that I was a woman to be an issue, so I just put my head down and cooked and did the best that I could. I moved to wherever I was able to move. And one day, some guys came in and shook everyone’s hands, and I held out my hand and this guy just walked straight past me. It’s like, ‘Okay, fuck you. I’m gonna be better than you one day.’
And molecular gastronomy comes in for yet another solid knock, this time along gender lines, from Sara Jenkins (formerly of 50 Carmine):
I think women cook different food, and I think women cook better food. It’s more from the heart and more from the soul. I look at this whole molecular-gastronomy thing, and I’m like, ‘Boys with toys.’ They’re just fascinated with technology and chemistry sets. I think we make better-tasting food. I’m sorry, I know that’s politically incorrect.
Consensus: none, really. But overall, it’s nourishing food for thought.