Celebrated chef Heston Blumenthal wades into dangerous women-in-kitchens territory

Photo: Oli Scarff (Getty)

Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in Berkshire, England, holds three stars from the Michelin Guide—an honor that has disproportionately been bestowed onto male chefs. In 2005, it earned the number one spot on the prestigious San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list which, too, has a pretty bad woman problem. As a consolation prize, the list hands out a separate award made just for lady chefs which, I believe, is a little bit lighter, and pink.

Blumenthal recently spoke to India’s Economic Times about the struggles women face in professional kitchens, which is always a fun topic to watch male chefs discuss. As an industry veteran and owner of two X chromosomes, permit me to add a bit of color commentary to Chef Blumenthal’s thoughts:

“I have always employed female chefs, but historically and ultimately, the body clock starts working. It’s evolution, and it is one thing to have a 9-5 job and quite another to be a chef with kids. So, that makes it difficult . [The physical strain of lifting] heavy pots and pans.”

Advertisement

First off, the female biological urge to reproduce has nothing to do with evolution. We are literally propagating our species.

Two, it is definitely more difficult to raise kids as a working chef than it is with a 9-to-5 job. He should know this, since he, himself, has four children. I’m going to hazard a guess and say lots of male chefs with fancy awards have kids, too. The question we should be asking chefs of Blumenthal’s stature shouldn’t be “So what’s the deal with these broads in the kitchen?” It should be “Why are you neglecting your children, fancy man-chef?”

It’s true that pots and pans are heavy and, as my father has told me my entire life, if I lift something too heavy, my ovaries could explode. However, I am done having children, and could easily be put to work in a kitchen, a warehouse, or in a marble quarry. Back to Blumenthal:

Earlier, to be a successful female chef in a male-dominated environment, you had to be tough as old boots. You had to fight harder. I know a few female chefs who have done very well.

Advertisement

This is 110% true. My first restaurant job was back in 2002, where I worked in a tiny, overheated kitchen with coke-addicted, French-trained chefs who used to blow off steam by throwing quart containers and, once, a waffle iron at me. At my second restaurant job, I was relentlessly bullied by the entirety of the male kitchen staff, causing a few late night emotional breakdowns on the subway ride home. I was making a fraction of what the guys were, I was working twice as hard to prove myself, I was told it was a privilege and, if I couldn’t handle it, it was emotional weakness. I left restaurants before I had children not because of my family, but because I realized that even with my thick skin, it was a fucking shitty way to make a living. Maybe women leave restaurant life behind earlier because we’re smarter than men? Let’s start floating that idea around. Oh, and back to you, Blumenthal:

Quite frankly, men [chefs] have asked for this; they’ve brought it on themselves. The shock of women standing up for themselves is strong and men get really insecure.

Advertisement

I am going to commission a massive wall hanging of this quote. I don’t think I’ve ever loved another string of words as much as I love this one. It’s pulled ahead of this quote my yours truly:

Advertisement

Average men should most definitely feel insecure because, for the majority of history, they’ve only been competing against 50% of society. Now they’ve got us modern ladies to contend with, the kind who DGAF if we rupture an ovary lifting a bag of flour because we know, thanks to modern science, that we’ve got two of those puppies to work with. We’ve also historically be in charge of the cooking and harvesting, so boy oh boy you milquetoast motherfuckers are screwed. I mean, think of the recipes that have been coded into our DNA through evolution!

Though I’m happy that Blumenthal realizes the men have “brought this all on themselves,” I hope that he is specifically referring to the realization that women have, at their core, a constantly churning vortex of white hot rage that is only at best 18% related to our periods, and we’re tired of always smiling politely. We’ve been running taverns, restaurants, boarding houses, bakeries, cafes and more since the beginning of human civilization, so women in professional kitchens isn’t exactly “new.” It just took you fellas several thousand years to notice. Good for you boys. Gold stars for everyone.

Advertisement

Share This Story

About the author

Allison Robicelli

Allison Robicelli is the staff writer for The Takeout, a former professional baker, the host of The Robicelli Argument Clinic Podcast, and a nascent birding enthusiast.