Women At Work - The Positive Side of Being A Female Chef
Women At Work - Three chefs, three questions, several answers?
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 more as women 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." Mindy Segal
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 skills."
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