How long have you been cooking/baking?
My grandfather emigrated to the US from Ireland in 1948. After returning from the Korean War, he took the skills to his dad (also a baker), gave those to him and his GI Bill and opened his own scratch bakery. I started working there when I was nine.
How many restaurants have cooked/baked in?
At present, how many female cooks/chefs/bakers do you work with?
I’m in between positions, but at my last job I worked with two other BOH women.
When was the first time you remember being treated differently than your male coworkers?
My summer job during culinary school, about three years ago.
Has anyone spoken to you or about you in a derogatory way?
All the time.
What’s the worst thing someone has ever said or done to you in the kitchen?
I was in a walk-in getting stuff out the the freezer area. The dishwasher was mopping the cooler part. When I went to leave, he cornered me and wouldn’t let me out the door. I had to physically push him out of the way. He was uninjured but I was disciplined.
When and how do you feel valued as a woman in the kitchen?
When I’m alone or with other bakers on my level, I feel valued.
Do you perceive differences in how men and women cook?
I guarantee you wouldn’t know if I–or Tony–was running sauté by tasting the food. My plating is cleaner, my mise en place is more thorough, and I work clean. That’s where you’d see a difference.
Why do you think a woman’s place is in the kitchen?
I actually wrote about this for my hospitality honors thesis for culinary school. I think a woman’s place is where she wants to be. Professionally, women were never thought to be strong or good enough to cook for royalty, so men did it. They organized the brigade system to mirror the military for a reason.
Please share your worst/best story as a woman working in back of the house.
The being cornered in the cooler was one of the worst. For me, I’m older than most, so they know now that they can’t get away with stuff, because I’m smart enough to know my rights. There have been nasty comments made, though. And casually coming behind my line and rubbing against me. Not cool.
The best was our first Mother’s Day brunch. It went off without a hitch, and I got to run a live crêpe station. I also got to show my skills with sugar and chocolate by making centerpieces and decorations.