Double effort

Iside De Cesare: personal fulfilment can only be obtained by applying yourself twice as hard as your male colleagues

by Iside De Cesare
Iside De Cesare and Romano Gordini, wife and husba

Iside De Cesare and Romano Gordini, wife and husband and "partners" in life: they run family restaurant La Parolina, in Trevinano, a hamlet of Acquapendente (Viterbo), tel. +39.0763.717130 (photo credits Carbonara Club)

Woman, chef and mother: this is the topic on which I was asked to write. I’d like, however, to make a little change and speak instead of Iside as a woman, and then a chef, a wife and a mother. In order of appearance. Because I was born a woman and I confront myself with a career which, when I first began, was mostly a male one (now something is changing).

The Gordini family (photo by A Tavola con lo chef)

The Gordini family (photo by A Tavola con lo chef)

Truth be said, there have always been women in the kitchen, but they were in family restaurants, the ones where you were born and grew up, in which you were part of the restaurant and the restaurant was an essential part of the family’s life and history, and of that particular woman (or woman-chef?). Meanwhile, in the kitchens that had a structured staff, those of which you became part after a job interview, those in which a curriculum was required, (almost) only men would stand out.

I personally had many experiences before returning to the concept of family restaurant. It is beautiful because now I can be with my children without forsaking my job. But the starting point was very different, because I didn’t grow up in a kitchen by chance: I began from the lower ranks, I studied, I worked, I worked hard and with lots of sacrifices, humility, perseverance, happiness and sometimes even some moments of discomfort. But always with lots of commitment.

Luckily, I learnt from some great chefs, both men and women, to all of whom I owe very much. And then I learnt from books, many books. And refresher courses and travels. And from the partnership with my husband Romano, the direct confrontation with him, and the birth of my children. This was an important moment: before I was already paying lots of attention to what I was cooking but after becoming a mother I began to consider each ingredient carefully, from a nutritional and transformation point of view. This is in fact what is truly beautiful in being a woman chef and a mother.

I’ve been often asked if there’s a difference between food prepared by men and women. I believe the way you cook has more to do with your cultural and professional heritage than with gender. What makes the difference, in my opinion, is the possibility of expressing yourself. That is to say, of growing and competing in a team of men – who have unquestionably more physical strength – where you have to grow – professionally – at the highest speed. In other words, you first need to conquer a coordinating role before you can fulfil yourself in your private life and thus be able to organise your work hours instead of suffer from them.

Now the question is: when will being a woman-chef stop being considered as an unusual fact? I believe our generation is working for our daughters (and our sons). Meanwhile we keep on doing what we love with passion and attention to detail. We keep on cooking with our arms, our mind and our heart.

See also
Dear Santa Claus by Ana Roš
I am a chef. Full stop by Antonia Klugmann
Talent has nothing to do with gender by Aurora Mazzucchelli
It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either
by Loretta Fanella
We’re not angels of the hearth by Cristina Bowerman


Chefs' life stories

Men who, for a moment, leave pots and pans to tell us their experience and point of view