Women in the Kitchen: It’s Good

We need more women in the professional kitchen. I’m not saying this because I am a great champion of equal rights or because I got brainwashed by the women’s studies courses I took during university (though I do have a suspiciously high level of respect for women…God damn you Women’s Studies 101 and your feminist-lesbian trickery!!!). I say this from a purely selfish standpoint. I love what I do. I love this industry. I want this industry to be the best it can be. And, in my experience, kitchens produce better food and are nicer places to work when there is a gender balance in them. Plain and simple.

Now, before we get into the reasons for why I think this is, let’s deal with the haters first. I know what a lot of the boys who work in kitchens say or think when they are confronted with women behind the line: “women aren’t tough enough”, “they’re too emotional” or “I could never take orders from a girl”.

Ok. Right. Gotcha. I guess I agree? Wait. What? Didn’t you not come to work because you had a stomachache? Didn’t no female cook ever not come to work because they had horrible menstrual cramps?

Didn’t you tear up/have anxiety/doubt yourself/feel like shit/be in a bad mood after the chef yelled at you during service? Woah, bro. Sounds like you are pretty emotional too. Maybe you should rethink your career path.

Aren’t you a small, insecure person who holds on to outdated notions of gender roles in the workplace? Oh, you are? Good. Just checking. That’s why you have problems taking orders from women.

Haters dealt with. NEXT.

So, women in the kitchen. Yeah. That thing. Believe me, it’s good. It’s real good. Of course, I don’t have any hard evidence to back these sentiments up. No charts or graphs to prove to you I’m right. I just have my crazy ideas that I have developed over several years working in a lot of different kitchens. 

Really, it boils down to this: balance. Too much of anything is bad. Anything. (unless it’s Christal and you be pouring that shit on bitches y’all!). And really, there is just too much man in kitchens. I mean, take a look behind the stoves in most restaurants and tell me what you see. A lot of horny guys under 30. Check. Alpha male personalities. Check. High stress environment. Check. Dick jokes. Check. The only way you are going to get more testosterone into a small place is if you get two male bodybuilders to wrestle each other in a kiddy pool full of raw steak. It’s not healthy.This environment forces boys to develop their craft and their relationship to food through a very narrow male-dominated paradigm. This stunts personal and professional development.

It’s not that the way men do things is inherently bad. It’s more that the way women do things in the kitchen is worth learning from too. Because at the end of the day, women do do things differently, don’t they? It’s the way they move, it’s the way they interact with their co workers and their surroundings, it’s the way they treat products, It’s the energy they bring into a room. It’s just somehow a little less rough, a little softer.

I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s the result of them having evolved to be the sex that bears life. Maybe this effects how they view this world. Maybe not. Honestly, I don’t know. All I know is that there is a difference. And I notice this difference everyday when I work with my female cooks.

The point, though, is that this is not bad. In fact, this is awesome. These differences need to be embraced and cherished because, ultimately, they can make you a better cook.  How? Simple. They give you perspective. They give you the opportunity to look at how you are doing things and compare it to how somebody else with a different mindset is doing those things. And if you toss away your ego and you observe and you learn from what you observe, you know what? You might just start developing new and better ways of doing things and of interacting with people and physical space. You might start evolving more rapidly as a cook and as craftsman and as human being.

So yeah, like I said a few paragraphs ago, it all comes down to balance. This world we live in is full of counteracting yet interdependent forces that are part of a system in which the whole is greater than the individual parts. Night and day. Summer and winter.  Life and death. Man and woman. (Yin and yang fools. What you know about it? Ancient Chinese philosophy represent!) Kitchens are part of this world and are subject to its rules. They are simply healthier more grounded places and possess a higher potential to produce better food, better cooks and better people when there is a gender balance in them.

So, ladies, get your asses into more kitchens. Men, be nice and supportive to the ladies. Learn from each other. Make each other better. Make this industry more awesome. Go. Do it.