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Dinner is Served: Gender from a Chef’s Perspective

I‘ve worked here and there with Women Online for the past 7 or so years writing about the really important issues that matter to me and are making the media round. Most times it’s been an assignment to publish here on my site. Recently they reached out via GenderAvenger asking me to share my thoughts on their site regarding a recent Twitter exchange with the NYC Food and Wine Festival, which, in essence, tried to downplay the lack of women chefs in their features lineup. Ironically, Women Online and I had just had a passionate conversation three weeks prior on the lack of representation of women in the culinary workspace. Specially, the irony of the gender makeup in corporate kitchens (and beyond).  I couldn’t resist penning my thoughts for them.

I will always use my platform to talk about the issues and circumstances affecting my people, namely women, immigrant women, children, Black people, Latino people and those of whom are either disenfranchised or marginalized.

This is an excerpt of what I wrote. Check out the whole article on GenderAvenger’s website. Chime in.

B! in the know. Stay engaged.

I’d love your thoughts. Drop me a comment here or on Instagram and Twitter.

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GenderAvenger recently called out the NYC Wine & Food Festival for its October lineup dominated by men. In response, they pointed to “Supper is Served,” featuring women chefs and billed as “a gathering of women in and out of the kitchen”. So, women chefs will indeed be featured, but in a pink silo. This got us thinking about the food industry. According to data gathered by Deloitte*, 78.4% of chefs and head cooks are men (and are most likely to be white men) and they are paid almost 20% more than their women counterparts.

Today, chef Bren Herrera shares her thoughts on gender from the home to the professional kitchen.

Supper is Served: Gender from a Chef’s Perspective

By Bren Herrera

I cook —among other things —for a living. I learned how to cook from my mother who learned from her mother. All of my basic and initial training was at the helm and direction of my mother, in our large, family-style kitchen. While my father cooks well, 90% of our family meals, from the time I can remember to now, were handled by my mother.

 

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Happy and blessed birthday to the woman who gives me life every day! I am so humbled and honored she chose to have me. She gifted me the best thing ever with 4 siblings and a solid family I’m proud to thrive in. ✨✨✨ I am such a rich girl because of her. She left everything she knew and loved in Cuba with my 8 years old brother, myself at 17 months and 8 months pregnant with my sis, to support my father’s long-game vision of establishing themselves here in the U.S. in order to give us the best life possible. And with her ultimate sacrifices in immeasurable ways, I’m able to live the crazy, adventurous + successful life I do. ✨✨✨ I’m so thankful God gave her to me and has given her another year on Earth. If you know Mami, you know her heart is of gold and her home is a safe refuge for anyone–known and strangers. Mami, today I/we honor and celebrate you. Gracias por lo máximo en todo lo qué haces. I love you, girl! 🙌🏽🙏🏽✨♥️💕😘 . . . #HouseofBren 👑🐝 #Mami #mothersday #happybirthday #birthday #Cubanmoms #Becauseofher #Feminine #Madre #Madres #mothersanddaughters #redtable #immigrant #selfless #love #endlesslove #felizcumpleanos #happy #cheflife #family #familia #wcw #culture #besties #bestfriend #girlfriends #afrocubano #afrolatina #curlyhair

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My story is not unique, however. It’s part and parcel the narrative of every chef I know. Even those uber celebrity names with a hefty catalog of cookbooks and TV shows recount a very similar story when sharing their roots in their kitchen. Specifically, Giada De Laurentiis and Rachael Ray come to mind, both of whom celebrate and have cooked alongside their mothers on their respective shows.

For centuries across the globe, regardless of race, religion and ethnicity, women have organically and traditionally assumed and executed the role of ‘Master Chef’ in their homes, communities and villages.

Growing up in a Latin American and Caribbean home, my mother has been the cornerstone of our culinary experiences. There is a natural nurturer and caretaker persona that comes with being at the helm of the kitchen. In turn, the experiences we and our guests leave with is one weighing on the understanding that our mother is inherently responsible for our connection to food and eating. I’ve had the same experience in every friend’s and colleague’s home I’ve ever entered. Without offering any empirical research, it is safe to argue our humanistic expectation is to see a woman extending out her arms with a cup of the proverbial ‘Soup for the Soul.’

Read the rest of the article here.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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