Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday's Big Question



Women chefs: Discuss.

As in, are there too few? Just not known? Drowning in a good-old-boy world? Ignored by big-city media? Ignored by all media? Covered about right? A non-issue?

Time's Nov. 18 "The Gods of Food" cover has spawned all sorts of feedback; possibly my favorite standing woman-chef-recognition program is Amanda Cohen's of Dirt Candy in NYC: Some of her "Lady Chef Stampede" is here.

The gist: Time listed not a single woman chef in its pantheon -- but did list four women who do other things. No women in the family tree graphic below also led to comments. (The NYT moderated a nice debate here, and Slate sums lots of it up here.)

The Time story begins "Man doesn't live by Bread alone," which some might say is an oh-so-subtle cue as to which gender is in dominant here; others (like the editor, to Eater) might insist this is just "harsh reality."

Awards-wise, interestingly, last week's James Beard Foundation gala was subtitled "Women in Whites," honoring "the accomplishments of women in our industry." Yet JBF awards don't often go to women. (I'll do the math in a bit; Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs," usually 10 every year (sometimes duos), have named 16 since 2000.)

Charlotte's had women chefs of prominence for years -- think way back to Helen Scruggs, Ellen Davis (now an owner) and Catherine Rabb (now at JW), then forward to Cassie Parsons and Alyssa Gorelick and Juli Luna. Add the restaurateurs -- Jill Marcus and Karen Teed, Bonnie Warford and Tricia Maddrey, Fran Scibelli, Cathy Coulter and Susie Peck for instance -- and then add ones that might not spring to mind quickly but are memorable: Joanie Babcock, Martine Johnson and Erin McManus, for instance, and food truck females Kelli Crisan and 'Emma Merisier. These are a quick thought -- who am I missing right off the bat?

What say you on this topic?

(WFAE's "Charlotte Talks" plans a show about this in December, if you're the sort who likes to say what you think aloud, on-air.)

Time's family-tree chef graphic (click to enlarge, then hit the plus sign):

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chef Alyssa is a rising star! I hope Charlotte has more chefs just like her.

Cat said...

I had to be "that guy" (or rather, "that woman") but "women/woman" are nouns only.

The phrase you are looking for is not "Women chefs" but "Female chefs". "Female" may be either a noun or an adjective, which is what you need.

Blogs can use editors too. :-)

Anonymous said...

What about Kris Reid, Executive Chef at Southminster? Ashley Boyd at 300 East is a fixture at farmer's markets.

Helen Schwab said...

To Cat: You are, of course, technically correct. I'm allowing it (and using it) in this instance because that's how people are talking (and writing) about this particular issue -- there's even a www.womenchefs.org. I'm using Google as a verb these days, too: also wrong, and yet ...

Catherine Coulter said...

Thank you, Helen! You are so kind.

Anonymous said...

Kris and Ashley are awesome and seriously talented, but alyssa who?