Women At Work - Three chefs, three questions, several
What's The Advantage?
Is there an advantage of being a woman in the kitchen? Mindy
Segal Pastry chef and partner at MK & MK North restaurants
feels that this topic needs to be viewed as more woman having
different skills and strengths. " Women have natural nurturing
qualities. Professional female chefs are level headed, grounded
and bring sense and sensibility to the kitchen - different
perspective". Carrie Nahabedian chef proprietor of
Naha echoes these thoughts. "Women tend to be obsessed with
details and their protective qualities equips the with an
eye for the well being of their area. That area may mean you
pay attention to the two cooks you supervise or the guests
of the restaurant you own." On the subject of guests, Carrie
feels that guest treat her with more respect than they would
a male counterpart. "The chick thing has value in this instance."
Additionally Carrie says, "Being a female chef gives you another
PR facet." Though this is an attribute that has never been
intentionally used to gain PR at Naha. Sarah Stegner,
the Dining Room Chef at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel points out
that women have several good organizations devised solely
for women. Les Dames d'Escoffier is one good example.
"Leave being a woman in the
changing room. When you hit the kitchen think of yourself
as a cook before you think of yourself as a female."
How To Handle Yourself In The Operation Mindy says,
"Leave being a woman in the changing room. When you hit the
kitchen think of yourself as a cook before you think of yourself
as a female. If you know how to cook and how to organize,
you will be respected and gender will not factor into the
equation". Again Carrie is in tune with Mindy, but points
out that "Proving yourself in the kitchen does not mean that
you should try to lift huge pots, be aware of your physical
limits don't be afraid to ask for help, focus on your culinary
Finally A Word Of Advice For The Female Chef Of Tomorrow?
Mindy? "Don't let anyone stand in you way. There are good
chefs and bad chefs, some are men and some are women ? focus
on being the best and nothing else." Carrie's advice rings
true no matter what your sex " I always tell my cooks, be
a sponge. What ever job you do, get the most out of the experience
because your employer will be getting the most out of you!"
Finally Sarah says "It helps if you know someone that you
can call to ask questions about how to handle difficult situations.
Find a mentor. If you can't find a one the WCR organization
(Woman Chefs and Restaurateurs) is offering a program that
sets up new people in the business with industry women from
all over the country that have a lot of experience. How well
you do in the restaurant business depends on your skills,
attitude and determination but its nice to have someone to
guide and support you.
Woman Chefs and Restaurateurs - www.ChefNet.com
Les Dames d'Escoffier - www.ldei.org
868 N Franklin,
Chicago, IL 60610.
Ph 312 482 9179
500 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL. 60610.
Ph. 312 321 6242
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel
(A Four Seasons Hotel)
160 East Pearson St.
312 266 1000