Welcome to Chow Bella's Bites & Dishes, where Valley chefs and restaurateurs respond to a question New Times food critic Laura Hahnefeld has on her mind. Have a question you'd like to ask? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last month, Time magazine published an issue called "Gods of Food," a male-centric look on those who influence "what (and how) we eat." The main portion of the article, the 13 Gods of Food, did not include a single female chef.
When the food blog Eater asked Time magazine editor Howard Chua-Eoan why no female chefs made the list and why the only two covered in the section were pastry chefs with a brief sidebar mention, Chua-Eoan said Time "simply reflected the 'harsh reality' of the culinary world."
Is Time's lack of representation of female chefs a product of restaurant industry reality, media bias, or both? And how does it reflect the reality of the restaurant industry in Phoenix?
Here's the perspective of 10 Valley chefs.
Deborah Schneider, Chef and Partner, SOL Mexican Cocina
It reflects the attitude of one industry for sure: the food media industry -- which fawns over, and sucks up to, European male chefs exclusively and considers everyone else (regardless of gender) second-best.
Don Carey Corporate Culinary Chef, TQLA
It's a two-way street. From my experience and the female classmates I interacted with at the Culinary Institute of America, a lot of them didn't want anything to do with cooking on an a la carte line. It was a lot of sweaty, dirty, and hectic work, and they were more interested in the baking and pastry program.
Saul Velasquez, Executive Chef, Blanco Tacos + Tequila
I would have to agree based on the fact that the chefs have been male in eight out of 10 restaurants where I have eaten. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of highly skilled female chefs in the industry, but the reality is that male chefs dominate most of the culinary world.
Danielle Morris Co-Owner and Pastry Chef, Cork
This is an industry full of men. It takes a certain kind of woman to be able to work in this environment every day. I know a lot of Valley chefs who are women, but like most places, I would say the majority are men. I'm not the kind of person to see that as a problem.
Josh Hebert Chef and Owner, Posh
The reality is yes, it's still a male-dominant industry. But the women who stay the course are always awesome. It's always been the same for our industry: the physical demands take their toll, and it's obvious. But everyone still has the same opportunity.
Chef Nick LaRosa, Nook
There are many influential chefs, men and women, in the industry today. To say that only men have influenced women is a biased statement. This is 2013, times have changed. I'm still the new kid on the block and am getting to know who's who in the Valley. From what I've seen, we have some talented chefs -- men and women.
Chef Joey Maggiore Cuttlefish Ocean Kitchen
There are many great female chefs. In particular, Deborah Scott in San Diego. She is money! Always right on target with creating and executing menus. She runs high-volume restaurants. Female chefs in general fit right in and make a mark in kitchens all over the world. After all, we learned the love of cooking from our moms.
Chef Maurice Gordon, The Westin Phoenix Downtown
There are a reasonable amount of great female chefs in the industry, I just don't think they're getting the exposure at the moment. In the Valley, I've had the opportunity to work with some wonderful female chefs -- I just have not seen many in executive positions.
Rick Phillips Owner, Bootleggers
In spite of the faux TV-femme chefs on Food Network, there is a bevy of babes to be found killing it in kitchens across the country. Standbys like Suzanne Goin on the left coast to April Broomfield on the right coast.
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Michael Siggins Chef and Owner, Pasta Brioni
Yes, the industry is predominantly male-centric. I've seen women have a difficult time winning the respect and authority of male cooking staffs. That being said, my best Sous Chef was a woman (just don't tell my current Sous Chef). Women are more accepted behind the line now than ever before. Hopefully, that trend continues.
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