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partyparty's avatar

Who makes the best chefs - males or females?

Asked by partyparty (9129 points ) December 27th, 2009

I think it is fair to say that most women make meals for the family, but why is it that most chefs are male?

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12 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

Men and women can equally be great chefs. Professional distribution ends up with more men at the Executive Chef level. Partly because being a chef usually gets you no medical leave and little time to give birth without getting fired. Plus men still make more money than women in culinary fields.

Things are changing but it’s taking time. The spread of male/female is almost equal in student application to leading culinary schools. That’s not to say the spread will be equal upon graduation, however.

Commercial kitchens tend to be a ‘man’s domain’ because of culture. There is a lot of Who Can Be Tougher and women aren’t usually raised in a way that promotes that type of thinking. Not that women can’t do it- just that statistically speaking, boys are raised with an allowance to be angry, vocal and confrontational while girls are taught the opposite.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Head Chefs are also responsible for managing a staff and the logistics of mass food preparation. I think that the gender gap is rapidly closing since there is no real reason for the difference.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@gemiwing Better and more detailed answer than mine. +GA

gemiwing's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land But you brought up an angle I missed, so GA for you

dpworkin's avatar

Women have no penis, so they are deprived of a serious fundamental – a built-in stirring mechanism.

Pazza's avatar

I think its because most resteraunts have a group of cooks with a shef at the helm, and most people don’t take women managers seriously so they don’t survive very long.

Also most men get their heads pecked enough by their wives at home, so they can’t cope when theres a woman in work doing it aswell.

Ultimately I think the whole ‘male – female’ dichotomy as a detrimentaly seperatist view.
Personaly I don’t see male, female, black, white, rich or poor. I only see human beings.

So to me the question should just be, why are some people better cooks than others.

Does anyone else think its strange that you don’t get taught how to cook in school?

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Pazza – I got taught how to cook partially at school. We had home economics (cooking, sewing and household maintenance) and industrial arts (woodworking, metalworking and enough electronics to make a lamp and fix wires) for two years at ages 11 and 12. Certain American schools teach these things, but I already knew how to cook, sew and clean house by the time I had the class.

When Julia Child got started, that was only 40 years ago. Julia Child was such a groundbreaker. I’m sure the men in her classes at the Le Cordon Bleu gave her a hard time at first. I think young people coming up see no difference in potential culinary talent between men and women.

Harp's avatar

The macho kitchen culture that @gemiwing mentioned is, I think, the fault of the French. The classic French restaurant kitchen runs on the military model, because that kind of discipline, rigor, and unquestioning submission to authority is a pretty good system for getting a large crew to perform a complex task as a unified organism.

Until the French recently did away with obligatory military service for males, French kitchens were staffed mostly by guys straight out of the army. The military atmosphere of the kitchen was just a natural follow-through of the way they had been living for the previous two years. Since it would have been unthinkable to the French that women could fit into this scheme, women have been largely side-lined in the French culinary establishment, and so have rarely received opportunities for advancement.

Because of the indisputable success of this model in turning out great cuisine, and also because chefs trained in this system went around the world and replicated this model wherever they went., it became the default way of organizing a kitchen. Even the terminology in the restaurant kitchen is martial: Orders are “fired”, the rush of the dinner service is the “coup de feux” (coming under fire), and the kitchen staff is a “brigade”.

Ironically, there is a parallel tradition of the great “mothers” of Lyonnaise cooking. These were a handful of women who ran small restaurants around Lyon in the early to mid 1900s. They have been virtually deified in culinary lore as paragons of French home-style cuisine. But their model was not primarily a commercial one; it was just the great “mother” with a few helpers back in the kitchen sending out her miracles to her cult following in the tiny dining room. Religion, not the military, would have been the applicable metaphor.

JesusWasAJewbot's avatar

Check the Top Chef winners, the numbers dont lie!

Steve_A's avatar

@pdworkin but we need a bowl or something of the like to stir the ingredients with the stirring mechanism ;) other wise it’s a waste of product! lol :D

casheroo's avatar

Both can be great chefs, but having a husband who has been a chef and having been in many kitchens….I have seen the physical abilities you have to have, and the emotional stamina. I’m not sexist, by any means, but I do know that men can handle those parts better…that doesn’t mean they produce better food.

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