Weaker sex? Not at all

Gender discrimination began in school but Sara Preceruti never surrendered

by Sara Preceruti
Sara Preceruti, born in 1983, chef at La Locanda d

Sara Preceruti, born in 1983, chef at La Locanda del Notaio in Pellio Intelvi, Como, 1 Michelin star, a restaurant in which she’s been working for 10 years. She’s the best woman chef according to Guida Identità Golose 2014

Until a few years ago, many private business preferred hiring only men. On one hand, this was because they believed that teams of men were more productive; on the other, they wanted to avoid absences or a turn-over due to a possible pregnancy.

Discrimination between men and women can be found in all fields, and, as many other women, I’ve experienced it since my teenage years. I began attending catering school at 16, a class made of 20 girls and 5 boys. We were picked on by our male classmates because, being girls, they gave for granted that we would have to take care of cleaning kitchens and utensils. Nor were we ever taken into consideration for tasks such as filleting fish, deboning meat, by the teachers, in the first place. Of course, they were men.

Sara awarded by Identità Golose at Magna Pars Hotel, last November

Sara awarded by Identità Golose at Magna Pars Hotel, last November

When I began to work in a trattoria, at 17, as most women I was assigned to pastry making. Looking back, however, I feel lucky because it allowed me to understand my great love for desserts, considered as a worthy end to the meal. Despite this, after the first year there, my attraction for the stove led me to ask to change station, in order to learn more. With a little hesitation, the chef allowed me to be in charge of starters. When he saw I was working well, he decided to assign me to all stations, in rotation.

I became a chef de partie after three years of apprenticeship, contrary to my ex colleagues who had to fight more. Throughout my professional career, I’ve always had male colleagues and male chefs but I didn’t let myself go, nor I allowed anyone to push me around. In fact, I’ve always made my rights and reasons understood. For instance, I remember once when I was attending lyceum, before catering school: I took a professor to the headmaster’s office because I believed a bad note he gave me wasn’t fair. …

Luckily, in the past few years this gender difference has become thinner. Men and women need to be good cooks, creative and receptive of the new trends in terms of taste, contrasts and pairings. In the end, it’s the dish that counts, not the gender of the cook. This is the only thing that arrives at the client/consumer. The rest is just chatter.

Finally, I believe the perfect balance in the kitchen is given by the collaboration between men and women. The union of personalities, experiences, personal taste and different sensibilities is in fact the best way to achieve important results.


Chefs' life stories

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