MILAN — The S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy has launched a new webinar series to discuss how to create a fairer and more representative gastronomic sector. Available on the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy website, the four-episode webinar series explores different aspects of the gender imbalance issue while outlining a roadmap for change.
Alongside Tom Jenkins, journalist and S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy spokesperson, as the moderator, the protagonists of the discussion are Maria Canabal, award-winning journalist and founder and president of the Parabere Forum; Vicky Lau, chef-patron of the two-Michelin starred Tate Dining Room and Mora in Hong Kong; Cristina Bowerman, the only female chef in Rome to not only helm a Michelin-starred restaurant, Glass Hostaria, but to hold three forks from Gambero Rosso; and Nicolai Nørregaard, the chef and co-owner of the Michelin-starred Kadeau restaurants in Bornholm and Copenhagen, Denmark.
The main points of discussion include kitchens as boys’ clubs, the female chef representation issue in food media, juries at events and improving work-life balance as a common objective.
“This is proof that women in high-level kitchens aren’t a recent phenomenon, but today they are paid 28-per-cent less than their male colleagues,” says Canabal. “And if 93 per cent of domestic cooking is the prerogative of women, if 48 per cent of undergraduates in cooking schools are women, but especially if 55 per cent of the world population is women, is there still a real need to distinguish between male chefs and female chefs? Talent has no gender: are we wired to identify talent when it comes in a feminine shape, or are we much more wired to identify the talent when it comes in a masculine shape?”
“I often feel that I am interviewed as a woman,” says Lau, “I am asked to give my point of view as a female chef and female owner, as if there were differences with men and as if my specific job, my path did not matter in itself.”
“I feel that I am a second choice for many events,” says Bowerman. “Those who organise festivals, events, forums are looking for a woman not for her talent or for her path, but only as a woman, treating us as interchangeable. Women are offered about 20-per-cent less than men and the offer decreases every time we move to the second name on the list.”
“We recognise that gastronomy can be a challenging industry for female chefs and that they are often under-represented within it,” says Jenkins. “For this reason, we are particularly proud of the webinar series project, one of the Academy’s educational activities to bring the gender balance issue to the centre of the debate, disseminating good equality practices and inspiring young female chefs in their professional development.”