I’m on Hélène Darroze’s side

"Guys, be ready to welcome more women in the kitchen". Cristina Bowerman’s comment

03-06-2015
Hélène Darroze, French chef born in 1967, at the

Hélène Darroze, French chef born in 1967, at the helm of Connaught in London, two Michelin stars, and of restaurant Hélène Darroze in Paris, one star. Awarded two days ago as Best Female Chef at the World's 50Best, she thus commented: "Due to a series of reasons, in the team of my restaurant in Paris there will soon be more women than men at work. Guys, be ready to welcome more women in your kitchens in the next few years"

Be ready, guys, to welcome more women in the kitchen in the future. This was Hélène Darroze’s statement when she received the award for best female chef at the World’s 50Best, two days ago in London.

I often happen to face the typical question: why are there few women in the kitchen? I would like for it to sound funny, though I’m afraid I won’t succeed, in listing the most frequent answers given by others, especially men:
1 Working hours wouldn’t allow women to have a family,
2 They’re not capable of standing long hours of hard work in the kitchen,
3 They don’t have enough strength for this job.

There are many more, some more creative than others, like that time when they told me that I didn’t work as well in the kitchen because I was too short and couldn’t reach the pans high up. The person who said that was the same chef de partie who would “forget” to clean underneath his station at the beginning and end of work. Poor thing, looking from far up how could he imagine he had made everything so dirty?

Silvia Capuano and Annalisa Macellaio, respectively curator of the external events and sous chef at Romeo, Cristina Bowerman’s second restaurant in Rome

Silvia Capuano and Annalisa Macellaio, respectively curator of the external events and sous chef at Romeo, Cristina Bowerman’s second restaurant in Rome

Those three answers, however, are still the most recurrent. As I strongly disagree with those explanations, I’ve always been coherent, or at least I’ve tried to, and I’ve always declared that men and women do not differ in the kitchen because of gender but because of their history. I’m against female quotas: I’m not a minority and I don’t need to be protected. I’ve always thought that inclusion is the only way out to reach a true parity and after all it is statistically demonstrated that inclusive societies are also the more resilient.

A few months ago I participated in Parabere Forum, the first edition of a new forum promoting "female networking", where all the participants realised, often for the first time, that there’s plenty of extraordinary women around the world and a strong network can generate plenty of explosive strength.

Last week I had the honour of being invited at TEDx in Milan. It’s a 15-minute talk on "ideas worth spreading" and my speech, incidentally, was on the necessity of spreading the story of hundreds of female role models around the world. The issue is not about lack but about spreading. Hearing Hélène Darroze stating what I’ve always thought and promoted makes me happy and validates a standing that I’ve always held dear.

Giulia Lena, baker working with Cristina

Giulia Lena, baker working with Cristina

So how do I support my idea? Annalisa is my right-wing at Romeo, Silvia is in charge of external events, Veronica is the pastry-chef at Glass, Vanessa, the "ice cream maker" at Frigo, Mirka is our beloved and very competent sommelier, Giulia is one of our bakers. With them there are also Claudio, Andrea, Edoardo...

All these professionals were indeed chosen because of their skills, because they were better than their male colleagues, but never because of their gender. Reading that Hélène Darroze believes that her choice of female cooks is only based on skills thus reassures me. Therefore «be ready, guys, to welcome more women in the kitchen in the future».


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