Aren’t we all so unbelievably tired of men in positions of power, sometimes unfathomably so, telling women what they are, how they should look, what they can and can’t do, and why they believe men are better!?
Over the last few days, comments made about women in the restaurant industry have ignited a rage within us here at Food & Drink Guides – a rage that can only be extinguished by highlighting just how absurd, exhausting, and unasked for such comments are. Our eyes can only roll out of our heads so much before we have to stop them from bouncing down the street, dust them off, put them back in our eye sockets, and write a few scathing sentences to ensure they stay in their place – at least until another man says another stupid thing (so a couple of seconds).
Claims made by well-known and respected male chefs that arrogantly proclaim that women can’t handle the heat of the kitchen as well as men, that men absorb pressure better, and that men aren’t as emotional and don’t take things so personally have us baffled. Any person that’s ever politely refused the advances of a man in a bar, corrected a man when he was so wrong but so full of confidence, or suggested he couldn’t take so-and-so in a fight, will be as baffled as we are by the suggestion that men aren’t emotional and don’t take things personally. A gentle, metaphorical breeze is enough to bruise many a man’s ego enough that he falls into a coma for months – and if you’re reading this and you’re a man and you disagree and you’re taking this personally, then I hope you will enjoy the irony in that. I’m a man and I’m very emotional, I take things very personally, and I literally crumble under any kind of pressure.
Male chefs questioning a woman’s ability to handle a professional kitchen environment, despite handling these environments for just as long as men, need to remember that not only is this a question that doesn’t need to be asked, but that women are asked to handle a lot more in male-dominated kitchens than they are, yet they still thrive.
Imagine what it’s like being a woman and growing up listening to men tell you “a woman’s place is in the kitchen”, working your ass off to compete in a male-dominated industry (according to figures from the Office for National Statistics, only 17% of chef positions in the UK are held by women), getting a job in a professional kitchen and hearing from well-known and respected male chefs that you, in fact, can’t handle the heat and you’re too emotional, yet still going to work and doing the exact same job as your male peers just with less of the respect?
Here at Food & Drink Guides, we’re proud to celebrate the many incredible female chefs working throughout the UK who don’t deserve to have to listen to bullshit like this on a daily basis. Here are some of the fantastic chefs we have featured in our regional food and drink guides this year.
Having received classical training under talented chefs, Shannon works with focus and passion to create fine modern Italian dishes at the family-run Italian Kitchen. To her, good food means a beautifully presented dish made with the finest quality ingredients, and Shannon takes great pride in the positive feedback she receives from diners. Her favourite season is spring, when she can take advantage of the fantastic local produce available, such as Dorset crab and lobster.
Growing up in Cyprus and Spain, Natasha lived in a culture where the dinner table is the focus for families and communities. It was in this environment that she gained a love for all things foodie. In her younger years, Natasha was inspired by her mother, who could create wonderful dishes every day using ingredients from the local market and the contents of the kitchen. She started out in the industry as front of house, before deciding to take the plunge and become a chef herself. Today she owns her own pub, and loves being experimental with flavours, and being involved in all aspects of the kitchen.
The Red Lion specialises in modern British dishes with Mediterranean influences, presenting plates packed full of flavour. Lucy works calmly under pressure and has an enthusiastic approach to getting the job done. Having recently received a glowing review in The Guardian, Lucy’s hard work hasn’t gone unrecognised. She continues to cook with inspiration and respect for the produce she so carefully sources, building the reputation of this fledging restaurant.
Aimee describes her cooking style as simple but adventurous, mainly due to the fact that she likes to marry different flavours and ingredients from around the world. She began her training at Milton Keynes College and has since gone on to work in Michelin-starred establishments, currently working in the kitchen at The Restaurant at Sopwell House, which holds two coveted AA rosettes. Aimee thrives off the buzz of the kitchen. The demanding nature of the business and last minute requests keep her on her toes, and she loves that no two days are the same.
Predominantly self-taught, Maria Jaremchuk is the innovative head chef at The Eyston Arms. Her seamless blend of classic British cooking and Asian influences makes her regularly changing menus impressively unique and keeps happy customers returning. It’s no wonder the pub is Michelin recommended. Building great relationships with local suppliers, Maria sources her produce from as nearby as possible, and much of it is even grown on The Eyston Arms’ doorstep.
At 15, Ruth entered the Future Chef cooking competition where she came second, and was subsequently talent-spotted by a chef who invited her to move to London to work. She decided to take the plunge and spent the next few years exploring the culinary world of England’s capital city. The sauce section is Ruth’s favourite area in which to work, as she loves utilising every part of an animal to create sauces that make good dishes taste exceptional. Ruth loves developing her knowledge and skill set and relishes the fast-paced environment and comradery of a kitchen. What Ruth loves most about cooking is making people happy, and continuing to satisfy diners is what motivates her to improve.