I just recently watched Chef’s Table on Netflix; episode four in season one, N/Naka. It was honestly the first time that I have watched or read about a chef where gender has come into play. When I eat a dish there are many elements that come to light; thought and creativity, presentation, elements of surprise, the smell, the display, the emotions that it evokes. Never do I sit there and wonder, was it a man or women that created this. First I am knowledgeable about all the places that I eat, I read about all who work there and what they bring to a table. I don’t want to eat at a place where the chef (as they are always the driving success behind any restaurant) doesn’t give one care about what they put forward. I want to eat at places that passion is the fuel that drives the kitchen. I want to eat in places that the chef has undeniable fire in their belly. I want to eat dishes that are crafted by true food artisans.
Is gender of the chef truly an issue? Are we still living in a day and age where one should care if the chef is male or female? Is passion not passion? If I put all that I am into creating a dish comparable to a Picasso painting, is that not worthy of the same praise as a man? Should it matter? This is the first time that I’ve thought about it. I know that the cooking industry is primarily male, but does that mean that a female can’t cook at the same caliber?
I’m actually shocked that it should be an issue. It came up a lot in the episode and it really has my wheels spinning. Not once have I ever eaten a meal and thought ‘I wonder what this would have tasted like had a women/man cooked it.’ Chef Niki kept talking about proving people wrong. About showing those around her that she can and she will succeed. But, don’t all chef’s want to do this? Don’t all chef’s feel the need to take food and prove something? Don’t all chef’s want to create dishes that people said couldn’t be done? Or is there a secret code among chef’s that men don’t have to try as hard?
If I was sent to review a restaurant I’m there to judge the food. Who created it; man or woman would be critiqued equally, wouldn’t they? Again, passion is passion. Food that is created with love, detail, intensity, fire and dedication is created with the spark that is inside. Not with what gender they are. Right? Please tell me I’m not a lone wolf in the forest here. If Julia Child was Juan Carlos, would he still be a culinary hero?
There are so many accomplished chef’s, man and women. I can’t imagine judging years of hard work and devotion on gender. I would never go to a restaurant and walk out because the chef might create a lesser innovative dish then their gender counterpart. Reviews should be based on the food, full stop. Passion is passion. It’s comparable to interpretive dance; if a man’s dance is more understood then a woman’s, does that make it better? No. If I perceive the dance differently then you does it make it better? No. Food isn’t just food. It’s an experience. Man and women are equally able to create memorable and innovative dishes, gender is not part of that equation. Passion, is passion.