Men, what a disaster

Marzia Buzzanca would have very much enjoyed mixed-sex kitchen teams. Except some men...

23-01-2014
Marzia Buzzanca, chef from Abruzzo. In the (totall

Marzia Buzzanca, chef from Abruzzo. In the (totally female) kitchen of her Percorsi di Gusto in L'Aquila, she prepares pizzas with organic flours, following Simone Padoan’s method, and dishes made on a stove with gas tanks (photo by Benedetta Rossi)

I’ve always worked with men. After the initial gallantry, they always forgot I was a woman since, despite my minute physique (as my father used to call it), I overloaded myself with all the hard tasks, including the extra hours of work. I never suffered from this, in fact, I always found it stimulating.

Today I’m the “boss” and I’ve tried various times to form a staff in which there was at least another man. However, the more time goes by, the more it becomes difficult. And after some self-eliminations, we’ve “automatically” become an all-women-team. It’s difficult to speak about it because I wouldn’t like to generalise. However, I believe that the main problem with the men that have worked at Percorsi di Gusto has always been that of having a female “boss”, something many considered as a problem.

I remember what happened once with I guy I had selected to take care of the coffee. One day something led me to I ask him: «Why did the girl I asked for an espresso answer “I can’t make it”?». The boy answered: «Because females can only prepare the saucer and the teaspoon and open a bottle of Campari». I was assailed by a hot flash and had to gnash my teeth in order to remain silent while thinking what to do. I was facing a serious mental limit, which was worsened by the fact I had always seen this boy as the number one in his job, in fact he was avantgarde. In the end I asked for that girl, who by the way had real character and professionalism, to be moved to the morning shift with me, and I put her in charge of the coffee – which, moreover, at that time already was the splendid mixture made by Giovanni Frasi.

Nobody discriminated anymore, since that day. Of course this is not always the case: great male chefs are great and can interact with Venus despite coming from Mars. I know maternity is a bit of a problem in our job: perhaps it forces us to stay away for some time, but I’ve seen men convinced they were dying because of a 37.5°C temperature.

Finally, a clarification: I’m not a fan of apartheid, nor a politician who weighs pink and blue quotas. I’ve always liked mixed-sex classes, ever since I went to school. I therefore hope I will have some men in the team again, in the future. I only hope they will keep up with the rhythm.