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the battle of the sexes!!!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hello everybody!!
i am currently doing a project entitled-- Do Women and Kitchen go Hand in Hand. I am researching on why chefs are pre-dominantly male... what is barring female chefs from entering the food industry..etc. Thus, i would be delighted if anyone could give me their views on this topic!!
For chefs and restaurant owners, i hope you all could answer my following questions:

What is the male to female ratio of chefs in your bakeries?restaurants?
In your view, what do you think has led to this trend?

Do you have a preference for male chefs over female chefs?
(if yes)

Why?
eg. Are male chefs more capable and talented than female ones? Do they maybe look more professional?

What is lacking in a female chef?
(if not)
Why are there more male chefs compared to female chefs then?

Do you believe that it is harder for a female compared to a male to be a chef?
What do you consider first before employing a cook into your restaurant?
Eg. Gender? Experience?

Is there a difference in a) pay b) privileges c) working hours between a male and female cook?

Is the working environment in the kitchens of your restaurants 'women friendly'?

Do you think there is a need to balance the male to female cooks ratio in your restaurants? How do you think one can go about in achieving that?
Okie, thats about it!! rEAlly hope i would get some responses!!! Thank you!!
post #2 of 29
This looks like a school project. I will answer it though, just to keep my mind off of other things.

A1: There are no female chefs where I work.

A2: No preference. I am but a commis and appreciate the opportunity to work for anyone.

A3: No one sex has more capabilities and talent than the other. Rather the differences lie within each individual and their desire for the industry.

A4: I don't know. At one point in our history it was expected of women to stay in the kitchen (sorry ladies but it's true and I apologize for that). Now that money is involved, they were being hurried out and not let back in. I think it sucks HUGE ONES!! To answer this question in one word......G-R-E-E-D.

A5: It's changing but it is harder.

A6: If I were an owner, the first thing I'd consider is talent!

A7: In the individual, free-standing restaurants there might be (but it can't stay that way). Where I live it's practically impossible to do gender discrimination. That would cause too much chaos in my opinion. I don't see it. Everything around me is straight DOE.

A8: In the kitchen I work in there only user-friendly. A tilt kettle doesn't give a **** who is using it.

A9: Talent, no matter who has it, can not be ignored. Not for long. There is a need to balance the ratio of competent to non-competent personnel. In that aspect gender doesn't apply. I would like to see a working environment that is fun, friendly, intellectually stimulating and above all equal. For this to happen it's going to take the efforts of us all. We that are open-minded must convince those of us who aren't that gender only matters when deciding which bathroom to go in at work. :)


I hope that helps.
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
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Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
post #3 of 29
I'll answer this. These are my opinions and experiences, which I know might offend others, sorry.

As a female and now a middle age female in the business there are many reasons female don't stay in the business. I've seen equal numbers of both sexes come out of culinary schools but once they get into the profession the females seem to drop out far more then the males.

I think the main reason is the hours. Many of us want families and want to particapate in "family interactions" and chef hours just don't let you. So since most of our spouses make more money then us, it becomes smarter for us to quit and raise our families and keep the home fires warm. Or we seek less demanding hours in other jobs.

Other reasons we leave can be the social structure of the kitchen. Often kitchens bring out very competitive and agressive behavior due to the stress of this job. Many females don't enjoy this pressure and shoulder bumping competition. It's still a male dominated profession and I personally have had a hard time getting males to follow my lead (as chef) with-out becoming a dictator (theres always someone challenging you behind your back). It's like a boys club and you get tired of standing outside the door, yet your uncomfortable being inside because that's not your nature either.

I switched to pastries, first because it interests me far more the the hot side. But other females enjoy it because the pace is less stressful (with timing/plating up).

Although I would like to add, my friends here have told me this is not the enviroment they've experienced in kitchens. I think the more gourmet, intelligent and the more modern educated chefs are NOW running kitchens where females can thrive. But as you get into more average restaurants with less savie chefs the more it is like I described above. Unforunately we all can work in the finest restaurants for various reasons besides tallent.

Over all, the sacrfices asked of chefs become too big of a price to pay and we choose a different life.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 
yup yup... your answers are of great help!! thanks!! by the way, are you also a chef? if you are, how long have you been in this occupation? Do you think your mentalityof thinking is that of the majority, or you are just representative of the minority.. like do your colleagues share the same view as you??..thanks a lot and i hope asking all these aren't violating your privacy...
post #5 of 29
Angeleeka, have you had a look at Ann Cooper's book, "A Woman's Place Is in the Kitchen": The Evolution of Women Chefs? You really should. In addition to lots of answers to some of your questions, it has an excellent bibliography that will lead you to more answers and sources of information. It sounds as though your project deserves REAL, serious research.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #6 of 29
Angeleeka,i am a chef in London and the same problem exists here!Women,in general,are seen as inferior by some of their male counterparts.I find this line of thought to be absolutely unacceptable.
A recent survey found that women in Britain`s hospitality and tourism industry are paid 25% LESS than men!!!
What a load of sexist s*@t!
I`ve met lots of female chefs who are brilliant.I`ve also met male chefs who are useless!Good actors,lousy chefs.
You mentioned the point of female pastry chefs,this is an area where you either know what you are doing or you don`t.Pastry chefs are consumate professionals.They are artists as well as chefs.
Chauvinism is,unfortunately,alive and well.Don`t be put off by these pretentious and overbearing individuals.I can`t be bothered with them,their blinkered attitude has caused a skill shortage in Britain!They need to see a taxidermist as as soon as possible.Leo.:chef:
post #7 of 29
This has been sort of a hot topic here in the past.

I was a head party chef/baker/partner of a catering business for roughly 9 years. Quit the whole business for another 10 years and then came back as a pastry chef for the past 4.

I can't unforunately tell you what other similar females I've worked with think about this topic because I've worked with vertually all males in the kitchen (except for my partner who was my Mother). My experinces over the last years as a pastry chef has been that I've been the only American and only female in the kitchen. So ethnic differences also played into the male female interactions.

I offered my perspective freely and willingly...no problem.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #8 of 29
If this is an issue that interests you, you might like to read this related article... http://www.globalchefs.com/chef/curr...49womIntro.htm[/URL]
post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
thanks a lot everyone... your views and suggestions would be put to great use for my project!! and if there are pple out there who come across my questions posted earlier, pls do ans them... cause i need a whole spectrum of views on this topic...
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
Hello Culinarian 247! are u a chef too? u are right... anyway, i was wondering if you by any chance prefer to work with a male chef over a female chef when given a choice... Do you think that we are just making a big hoo-ha over this issue because after all some occupations are just more single-sex dominant like being a nurse.. Do you think women today are just demanding too much and not willing to work as hard as their counterparts in the kitchen? Do you think your previous views represent that of the majority of your collegeaues? thanks!!
post #11 of 29
Thread Starter 
hIE We.DeBord and Leo R!!
i understand you are a female chef right??
may i know what encouraged you to plundge into this occupation? were you aware of the "female prejudice' in the kitchen?
were your family supportive of your choice of occupation?
what obstacles did you face initially? How did you overcome them?
have you any regrets on your choice of occupation??
Gee.. great lot of questions... thankie!!!
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
thanks suzanne for recommending that book!! i am contemplating on getting it... but checking it out at the library first!really i hope i can find it there!!!
post #13 of 29
Angeleeka,i can assure you that i am definitely male.:)
I`ve been a chef for nearly twenty years and still get a huge buzz out of the industry.I do not have any preference with female/male chefs.As far as i am concerned,a persons biological composition does not ensure that they can cook!!
I`ve heard students in colleges make sexist remarks,i then get enormous pleasure from seeing them fail a practical assessment.
Total dedication,good communication skills,consideration for others and listening are vital.
You ask why i became a chef,well, i always wanted to learn to cook at school.I was told this was not available to boys,yes,it was a mixed school.There was a heck of a lot to learn when i first went to college,remembering everything is fun!I`m still learning new things,eating trends,new forms of food poisoning bacteria,hygiene legislation,etc.
There will always be something new,you don`t get time to get bored.If you do,you are working in the wrong place.Leo.:chef:
post #14 of 29
angeleeka,
Just wondering what type of course this topic is for? Ya know most of us male chefs don't like to give you gals any ammo!
Just kidding'not a chef. I think you might want to take your report one step further and include the ethnic influence. As DeBord mentioned she was in a predominately Hispanic kitchen. I will be crucified by saying this but most latin men are very macho and don't have much respect for women unless they are in their home kitchen. Most older European male chefs still go by the old standards of 'you have to pay your dues and that the kitchen is for men'. I better stop before I get thrown off for good.
LeoR is not a female?? hum

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #15 of 29
Gotta come back into this, since my friend Panini said some things ... No Jeff, I'd never dream of nailing you to anything.

Right now I'm doing consulting, but I've worked in restaurants, managed a catering operation, and been the kitchen manager for a food manufacturer. In the time I worked in restaurants, I was garde manger, grillman (yes, that's what you call it), saute, and pastry chef. In some of those kitchens I was the only woman; in some, the only woman on that shift but there was a woman Sous Chef on the other shift; sometimes there were other women in various line and chef jobs -- including one place where the Executive Chef, both Sous Chefs, and the Pastry Chef were women, as well as about half of the prep cooks and half of the line. In other words, I've had pretty much all possible combinations of male and female in charge and as colleagues. I'm a native female New Yorker of the Jewish persuasion -- which some think of as an ethnic group unto itself -- and have worked with Hispanic males and females and several other ethnicities as well.

So what are my answers to your questions? From a tough broad's perspective:

Male to female ratio: explained above

cause of this trend?: what trend? I see no pattern there.

preference for male over female chefs?: Please, I'm a married lady, and my husband does not work in the business. :blush: (I promise, I won't go there, tempted though I may be; this is a good, clean forum!)

are men more capable and talented than women?: Some are, some are not.

do [men] look more professional?: Looks have nothing to do with any of this; PERFORMANCE, CREATIVITY, LEADERSHIP SKILLS, and MANAGEMENT SKILLS are all that matter.

what is lacking in a female chef?: Do you mean anatomically? I certainly won't mention that here; nor will I say what men lack, anatomically. Otherwise, men and women may both lack the same qualities, just as they may posess the same qualities necessary in the kitchen (see previous answer).

why are there more male chefs ... then?: Are there more males? Have you done a census? And how do you define "chef," by the way?

do I believe it's harder...: Yes, but the main reason is that too many women believe the crap about men being more suited, better, etc. So do too many men. It ain't necessarily so; gender has nothing to do with ability.

what do I look for when I'm hiring?: Neither gender nor experience; they don't matter. I look for passion for food, passion for learning, the ability to show up on time (in fact, that's THE MOST IMPORTANT THING!!!!!), basic math and reading abilities. I have not been in a position yet where I needed to hire better than entry level, but those are STILL what I'd look for (plus the ability to keep one's mouth shut).

differences in pay?: I sure as **** hope not, unless based on ability, experience, and skill level.

differences in privileges?: Excuse me, NO ONE has any privileges in a kitchen. What on earth are you thinking????

differences in working hours?: Prep and service times are when they need to be. Is there a difference in service hours for female and male customers?

"women friendly"?: The environment is friendly to people who do what they are expected to do, and who do it well. Otherwise, you are (rightfully) subjected to all sorts of harrassment. Come to think of it, that's true even if you DO produce (read Kitchen Confidential).

Okie dokie, I hope this helps you!!!

PS to Panini: I have found that if you exhibit the same dedication to doing your best that they feel, and show that you can do the job, the Hispanic guys have as much respect for a woman as for any male in the same job. In fact, sometimes I think they adapt better than the frat-boy white-bread CIA grads. No, not just sometimes; I THINK THAT'S TRUE.

Oops, gotta go make dinner for my hubby now! ;)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #16 of 29
I'm so glad you're here!!!! very well put but I think you're speaking of this industry through the big city picture. Maybe not.
Knowing you a little, you could hang with the best!!!!!! but are you the average female???
You mentioned the fratboy bolillos, I think this same person of the opposite sex will have a very difficult time at least for a few more years, especially here in the south. I would be hard pressed to find 1 in ten chefs here female. But I also have to tell you that the few I know well I really respect. Mainly for their dedication to something they love. Personally I try to hire the best persons available for the jobs we offer and somehow have surrounded myself with women at work. That must tell ya something! but I'm also in therapy:D

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #17 of 29
comments like that can get ya in trouble, man :D
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
post #18 of 29
No, no, it's okay. For one thing, Panini and I (and several other CTers, AND my husband, Paul, who only eats) spent quite a long evening together eating and drinking and talking, so we do in fact know each other more than just from online conversations. And I think the world of Panini -- which I did before we met in person, and still do even afterwards :D .

Darn it, I should be the average female! I'm proud of being one tough broad, a child of the 60s (I was accidently pepper-gassed in Madison, WI in 1968). And, frankly, I wish more women were as tough, too. There seems to have been an awful lot of backsliding, with "girls" thinking that they have to be "girls" and not standing up for themselves. Pull up you socks, ladies, and get to work!!!!!!! After all, it takes so much pressure off those poor helpless guys when we women can function as full human beings. We know we've always done it; THEY know we've always done it. Enough of this subterfuge already!!!!

It really pains me to keep reading this garbage about "Are men better at XXXXXX than women?" The only things men are better at are 100% physiological; and then, we are infinitely better at other physiological pursuits. When was the last time a man nursed a baby? But differences like that have nothing to do with work, and how well anyone perform do his/her job. I just don't understand how anyone can see things differently. Which is not to say that I haven't butted up against discrimination; I just work around it to the best of my ability.

Well, excuse me, I have to go strain the stock I just made from the shells of the live shrimp I drowned in Chinese wine for dinner tonight. (Oh, they were so delicious when I sitr-fried them with ginger and garlic...!)

edit: Hey, I'm in therapy too! But mainly so that I stop yelling at Paul ;) ;) (he's there with me!)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #19 of 29
dear suzanne,
never mind when was the last time a man nursed a baby - but delivered one! :) think they'd make it through natural child birth?:) sorry guys, i just couldn't resist.
as for being female in the kitchen i guess it comes down to respecting other people as much as you would like them to respect you. i have held many different positions and managed many people of different backgrounds. my production levels were higher than others as i took the time out to get to know the employees - not on a friend level - but as teammates, striving towards the same goals.
of course it was difficult in the beginning, having to prove myself time after time, but that's a whole other story. i think i went into the back of the house because it was something that wasn't done - all the restaurants in the area tended to hire male workers. so i just had to go out and bust open a few doors. ;)
kat
post #20 of 29
culinarian247,
my question about Suzanne being average was a compliment, as she says about being tough, I don't think she would have any problems and truthfully I don't think I could carry her knives in the kitchen. I guess I'm just trying to say that although things are changing in the kitchens, here there seems to be the older type of gender specific kitchens. My wholesale business takes me to a lot of the BOH's. If it's changing it's sure not obvious. I truly think that the BOH road is still going to be tougher for females. I myself, am 100% on the other side of the fence. ****, I sometimes still get razzed from some of the old timers about the girls decorating job I do. The positive side to all this is that it is a physically tough business and most of the old school thinking guys will die off. Can you believe I just wrote that!!!:rolleyes: :talk:

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #21 of 29
no harm intented. i kinda figured you two knew each other outside of CT. i only know a couple of people.
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 - 1860)

M.E.A.T.
Mankind Enjoying Animal Tastiness
Reply
post #22 of 29

This is way off topic, but ...

To continue this lovefest, I am not fit to touch Panini's pastry bag ... um, Sweetex ... um, oh, h*ll, he's a great guy, and one of the most level-headed people I've ever met. Just like CapeChef, and momoreg, and marmalady, and and and ...

Jeff (Culinarian, that is): I feel like I "know" a lot of the people here, whether I've met them in person or not. ChefTalk has one of the highest content-to-bull ratios I've seen on food websites. Members here feel comfortable revealing what really matters to them -- food-related or personal -- and are right to expect to receive at least a fair hearing, and often receive strong support and encouragement. To repeat what I've said many times before, ChefTalk is the best.

That's one reason why I mouth off as much as I do about the supposed "battle of the sexes" in the kitchen. I hate artificial battles (except for Iron Chef ;)). I hate taking sides. I think we should all have the opportunity to work to the best of our abilities. I can heft a 50# sack of flour if I have to. I know enough to NOT heft a full 12-gallon stockpot without help. I will help anyone who asks for help, whether it's for brawn or for brains, if I can. And I wish that everyone else thought and acted the same way.

Sorry to sound so preachy. And my point -- that here we accept each other for what we are, and what we believe each other to be capable of -- is getting lost. It's late. Anyway, you get the idea, I hope.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #23 of 29
Lots of great comments, Suzanne, I think you should have your own radio show. I personally have had the pleasure of working with some fantastic female chefs and as it was said earlier it really doesn't make any difference whether you are male or female, just your passion level about the food you are preparing. Whether you are a man or a woman it doesn't matter, the kitchen is a tough gig, long hours, hot stoves, steam burns, cut, etc. I have seen just as many wimpy guys who freak out the minute they have four order tickets in front of them as women.

The one thing that does bother me about women in the kitchen is simply when fellow cooks or the chef (males) start harrassing them simply because they are women. Once I had climbed the ladder a bit I never once hesitated to tell a cook to shut his mouth or he could find a new job if he made disgusting or lewd comments to a fellow female cook.

And lastly, as for lifting heavy stock pots and the sort anyone who wants to lift them by themselves they can go ahead. As for me I was an ice carver for over six years and never learned early on to never lift anything by yourself unless you wanted to end up with a bad back at the age of 35.
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Nicko 
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #24 of 29
Nicko,
I think a radio show is a great idea!!!!!!! I would give Suzanne the drive time 3pm to 7pm. CC or your self could do a couple of hours. An internet thing with a web cam?? I would really like to be the(not sure of the title) guy who does the sound effects. Like pans clanging, Julia cutting here finger, burr mixer, garbage disposal, timer going off, etc. Your are a genius!! I hope somebody with experience in this area will post and give us some idea of cost.

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
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post #25 of 29
Oh, please! :blush: :blush:

But then I'd have to let other peole talk sometimes! boo! :(

On the other hand, I could be the kind of talk-show host who cuts callers off with, "You're an idiot! Next caller, please." :mad:
Okay, where do I start, and how do I get national syndication.

Oh, wait, that means people would call on cell phones from their cars? Can't have that!!!

:D :D :D
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #26 of 29
battles of the sexes can only exist when an arena is created.
12 years in kitchens has taught me tolerance and acceptance and i believe i am equally flawed/capable of prejudice as my male counterparts.

any job in this world may have been male dominated at one time but women do have the networks to supporteach other and pay equity.

the only barrier gender creates that i have personally witnessed is they way we communicate and compete. I love learning from and "One-upping?" my bros in the kitchen but sometimes men are raised to be threatened by a woman wanting to be at eye level just like women sometimes take some cues from men in the wrong way.

vive la difference!
post #27 of 29

battle of the sexes

here's my 2 cents
One of my first jobs was a jr. line cook next to my mother. Of the dozen or so kitchen staff I was the only male. {I was teased a lot.}The majority of cooks in my neck of the woods are female! When it comes to Chefs the majority are male! Why? I don't know. A friend of the family has been a cook for 20+ years and both her daughters are cooks, why not become a chef I asked them? I like to cook was the answer. Most chefs spend more time as a manager then cooking. Maybe most women enjoy cooking more then telling someone how to cook. I have been out of the kitchen (restaurant biz.} for over ten years, and thinking of returning to school to become a chef. But the most important lesson I have learned is that good food comes from the heart and I learned that from mom. Title or no title a good cook/chef are worth their weight in gold in a busy kitchen...Amen:beer:
post #28 of 29

Last time I looked I'm still a Female

Hi Everyone
While the Ratio of Male Chefs vs Female Chefs is wide
the Time is changing
More women have entered the Indusrty within the Past
few Years
I'm 24 and currently aN executive Sous Chef
[At least that's what is states on my Nametag]
I get paid the same as my Male Counterpart
and work the same amount as hours

Many women seem to head towards The Pastry End of
the Industry
there are ten times as many Female Pastry Chefs as there
was five years ago
KIM :chef:
What do you get when you cross a Donkey with a Spanish Onion ???
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What do you get when you cross a Donkey with a Spanish Onion ???
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post #29 of 29
- As far as Asian countries are concerned , I would say only that females are more tilted towards family building , so that they could not cope with the timings and the commitmeent towards the career.
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