Why is it that when men cook it, it is an art, but when women cook it is considered a household duty? We live in a society where men and women are not seen as equal in a common room in the house; the kitchen.
Since the earliest times of civilization, a typical heterosexual marriage looked a little like this: women were seen as the homemakers, and their household duty was to cook and clean while their husband went to work. You know, the good old sexist joke, “make me a sandwich.”
On the contrary, in the restaurant industry, females are rarely chefs. Why is that one form of cooking is a duty, but the other is seen as an unreachable career? It’s confusing when society teaches us that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, yet she shouldn’t follow that career path.
According to Chef Camille Becerra, “Most male chefs don’t respect their female colleagues, no matter how well they cook or what they accomplish in the industry…As a female chef in a position of power, I know that I must set the tone to make sure that the next generation of women (and men) have a better, more positive, and safer workplace. Enduring sexism should not be a ‘right of passage’ in any industry.” It is interesting to note that in a typical restaurant, a large majority of the chefs and cooks are male, while most of the servers are females.
A Netflix documentary series called Chef’s Table features famous L.A. Japanese chef Niki Nakayama, where her success as a chef is documented. Niki explained that women are not typically Japanese chefs and she felt as though she had to prove herself in order to be of equal value to the male chefs. Niki stated that “in my family, women are not expected to reach high levels of achievement in their careers.” She proved them wrong and now cooks at her own traditional Kaiseki restaurant called N/naka in Los Angeles.
Fellow Spoon writer Melanie Raybon has seen at it all during her waitressing job where she was required to wear a tight fitting, low cut shirt with spandex shorts and nude pantyhose. She exclaimed that “the guys in the kitchen would make comments about all the waitresses and hit on us and get touchy with us. I always had to just laugh it off but it made me really uncomfortable”
Waitressing is a hard job, on top of being harassed by countless rude customers and the occasional 0% tipper, women have to fear being sexually harassed on the job, “customers constantly hit on me and checked me out. I basically felt like I was showing off my body to get tips.”
I myself worked as a waitress at two different restaurants and noticed each time there were more female servers than male, and zero female chefs or cooks, and to mention, all the managers were male. Being a young server in the food industry is no walk in the park. Besides constantly having to do a job well done, you never know when you will have to grin and bear it when dealing with sexism.
The worst part? It is unprofessional to stand up for yourself in this situation. So what are women to do?
We must continue to cook, become chefs, show off our foodie Instagrams and achieve our dreams. Yes, waitressing will always be a rough job, but in the end, we are slowly growing and evolving from ancient standards to create a better life for women in the kitchen.