Mind and heart

Marta Grassi: no comparison nor labels. Women win thanks to concreteness and dedication

Marta Grassi, chef del Tantris in corso Risorgime

Marta Grassi, chef del Tantris in corso Risorgimento a Novara, telefono +39.0321.657343, 1 stella Michelin dal 1999

No, indeed we’re not interested in being seen by clients and colleagues as the “sweet” woman, or the intellectual or bitchy one, as with labels in a TV programme. We have no need to necessarily have an image sewn around us. Our assertiveness, in the kitchen, comes with the knowledge that being a woman chef, today, means being strong, being yourself so much so that you can let your personality and your cultural background emerge. And it means also running and sometimes working twice as much as our male colleagues.

Miniature, dolce in carta al Tantris

Miniature, dolce in carta al Tantris

My life as a chef and as a woman has been satisfying and fascinating for 20 years. Sometimes it forces me to make difficult choices, to divide myself between work, family and myself, to sacrifice my time and desires but I tell myself that it is worth it. Of course as women chefs we are less numerous than the men, and it is true, you can also see this at congresses, gala dinners, on television and on almost every occasion. The same difference can be noticed in schools in this field, both the public and the specialised ones. But indeed the commitment and the passion is the same.

And I believe that as women, we have a concreteness and a dedication to work that cannot be found in many men chefs. And in a masculine society this means even less interest from the media. After all I believe I am worthy for being Marta, for the desire I have to exist and work with pots and stoves in the kitchen, the desire I have to chat with my sisters, the desire I have to love my husband and to look at a mountain lit by the sun: chef, woman and myself are united and divided as asteroids in a same galaxy ruled by passion and strength, by reason and a touch of madness. In fact, when I taste a dish I want to be surprised, fascinated, captured by what that dish communicates, and I don’t ever think of the gender of the person who prepared it. For me there’s the same energy of mind and heart guiding the hand in creating, the same energy I see in those who share the kitchen using their pen, as Paolo Marchi does: the same heart, the same mind.

Marta Grassi e il suo staff

Marta Grassi e il suo staff

Moreover, the Michelin guide should be blessed. Yes, it is true, I owe the Michelin guide a lot: it was quick in judging me and awarding me and for this reason it has been and still is a great influence for my work in this small provincial town. I am happy that in our country the number of women chefs is the highest in Europe: it means that all that has been done to explain that your brain - and not your gender – is what counts in the kitchen wasn’t useless and in a way has been rewarded.

Being among the 51 women with this acknowledgement is a merit and I sincerely hope that this number will increase in the coming years and that women will be given the same opportunities that men are given. There’s an army of young women ready to be captured by passion, aware that strength and courage will be the foundations of their lives. Even Napolitano reminded us of this: “we have great reserves of constructive will and courage to count on". And this stimulates us even more. Besides, Ana, Santa Claus loves our letters and our colourful shoes.

See also
Effort with a smile by Nadia Moscardi
Nothing is impossible by Emanuela Tommolini
The other side of the dish
by Elisa Arduini
Weaker sex? Not at all by Sara Preceruti
Double effort by Iside De Cesare
Dear Santa Claus by Ana Roš
I am a cook 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


Female chef's life stories

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


Marta Grassi

chef or Tantris restaurant in Novara, one Michelin star

Author's articles list