I am a chef. Full stop

Klugmann: cooking is a luxury you need to conquer day by day. And femininity is not requested

by Antonia Klugmann
Antonia Klugmann, born in Trieste, is the chef at

Antonia Klugmann, born in Trieste, is the chef at Venissa in Mazzorbo (Venice) and awaits the opening of Argine di Vencò in Dolegna del Collio (Gorizia). Photo by Scattigiusto

I believe cooking what we like and what inspires us is the biggest luxury in life. Clearly it is so in my opinion, because creating a dish, in my case, is part of the search for a happy life. I never felt this incredible luck was a given fact. Instead, I’ve always felt it was something I had to conquer, something that was part of that process of self-determination and essential definition that is required for an evolving and self-aware existence.

Can this be a search that only involves men? For men, as for women, it is hard to have a long career in the restaurant business. Unfortunately, for women it is a little harder still. It’s only been a few decades since it’s been considered as something acceptable for a woman to pursue her professional satisfaction. And this without considering the urgent economic necessity that may have forced women to work outside the home.

We are still few, in teams that are mostly made of men, but it’s just a question of time. Kitchens are meritocratic places: a dish needs to be good. A client doesn’t care whether the hands that prepared it were those of a man or of a woman; while a chef doesn’t care if you’re good looking or ugly, what he cares about is that you are quick, precise, well-mannered.

Femininity in the kitchen is not a requested nor a compulsory characteristic. It becomes a choice, and it can be a source of freedom. Dressing up according to fashion, paying attention to accessories or makeup is not important: what’s important is that you’re good. I can say without any doubt that I like this. I like wearing a white uniform for many hours during the day. It doesn’t hide me, it reflects me. I am a chef. Full stop.

See also
Talent has nothing to do with gender by Aurora Mazzucchelli
It’s not easy yet it’s not impossible either by Loretta Fanella
We’re not angels of the hearth by Cristina Bowerman