Thursday, 2 February 2012

A Question Of Sex?

I always prefer to use gender, but you know how the British are for these things, such as calling the restroom the 'toilet', when all that does for me is conjure up images of obstinate turds floating in the bowl. Yes, our American cousins are more refined than us on more occasions than we really care to examine.

Back to the post, as I've been struggling whether to open up a can of worms on planning and international planning that can never be fully resolved. As with most things in life, it's a case of the dynamic so putting it down in black and white often leads to intellectual obsolescence quite quickly. But a start must be made and I think a warm up post on gender equality might be a good way to begin the proceedings. It's probably just as contentious.

A long time ago I realised that all the most well known chefs are male and I couldn't figure out why something so intuitive and creative could be represented mostly by men rather than women. Is this because of men's inherent superiority or some perverse misrepresentation that when it comes to running a kitchen, women are best and then leave the fellas to the superior execution of Crème brûlée and blow torches in a restaurant?

I was just ordering some food here in Beijing and had a thought because a long time ago I had the good fortune to work in one of the best kitchens in Hollywood, Los Angeles while on vacation from the marketing degree I was doing. That place was stuffed with guys too.


So I just noticed at Bread Talk (where they do the awesome Crouching Tiger Hidden Bacon) that all the kitchen staff are guys.

And all the service staff are women. I've only just figured this out so maybe I'm just late to the game but it has nothing to do with culinary superiority, it doesn't take that much skill to learn a set list of bread products (good as they are)  but it does take something I observed in a kitchen of macho Mexicans. 
Brute strength is required to cook. I know this because lifting out a tray of chickens from a sizzling oven with boiling hot oil and juice takes not only strength but endurance, doing that and a hundred other demading tasks each and every day. Maybe the reason for men's dominance in the Kitchen and as celebrity chefs is more down to a strength advantage which makes me think that perhaps we're missing out on some tasty talent out there. What do you think? Am I off-on-one or does it make sense.
Or are men simply superior?


  1. Dude, I still dream about crouching tiger hidden bacon it is possibly the most fantastic culinary delight ever made.

    As for your theory, you maybe on your own on that one.

  2. Just like most creatives, planners and top level staff are men, and most account execs are women...

  3. You're not wrong on the strength bit. I used to do volunteer work at a Buddhist temple in Singapore. On some festival days, they would provide free food to worshippers, and I would work in the kitchen on noodle duty. Believe me, frying industrial volumes of noodles in a wok that was heated by a slightly tamed flamethrower is hard work! Almost nobody could do more than three wokfuls (if that's a word) before needing to collapse in a corner with some ice water....

  4. A serious amount of female clients too these days Rob.

  5. ...what about 2 smaller trays for the sizzling chicken instead of 1 massive one? men wouldn't moan about this i guess. easier to handle for them, too :)

    women and men just got different kinds of strength when it comes to the body's physical structure. women give birth. men do different stuff.

    apart from that it's all about stereotypes, i think. what's male and what's female? and, in my opinion it depends on the upbringing how typical 'female' or 'male' a man or woman turns out to be. the cultural and social environment. the sterotype of women being great cooks by nature and men being heavy-handed when it comes to domestic stuff is lead to the point of absurdity by the fact that there are more famous male than female chefs. i think that more women than men are working in the service is due to the stereotypes that women got a caring nature and got stronger communication skills than men. and because women are just beautiful :) so something nice for representation behind the counter or directly coming over to your table.

    there are less female star chefs than male ones. why? the big boss is usually not a woman in our societies. i think one could also ask why there are so few women in top management positions. what does it really take to get up there? a kitchen of a restaurant seems quite similar to a big company if i look at the hierarchal structures. and business is comepetitive. making a bottom up career is about appearing/being better than others or even the best. it's about showing strength to be reliable and dealing with the pressure. (and else). i guess there would be some differing 'male' and 'female' anwsers to questions like: do you want to be the best? what does that mean to you? does being good at a job lead into a career? is having a career fun?
    it's a chliché that women don't care about the money so much, because they do their job for self fulfilment. so it's okay for them to earn less money than men doing the same job.

    business is still dominated by men. societies are... some crazy example considering that switzerland is in europe: in 1990 it needed a federal court decision that allowed women to vote for the parliament and government of the canton of appenzell innerrhoden. men in this canton didn't want to give that right to the women...
    anyway, women got some more rights by law than they had some years ago (in europe). and they might be seen as some scary "new" kind of competition. they might be under suspicion, especially if they are trying to make their way up... how did she make it there? who did she flirt (or else) with to get that job? she's not caring enough for her children, because she is working. oh, she hasn't got children? doesn't she want any? no?.. that lady is more of a man than i am! am i a manly man? :)

    some serach for identity and role women are dealing with, too, i think. very interesting topic.
    there's some test about implicit attitudes and beliefs here:
    my results of the gender test were kinda surprising to me!

    (ps: this is the longest comment ever, isn't it. sorry 'bout that)

  6. Hey. I'm *trying* to give birth Peggy! Great comment but I did post about the female representation in the Kitchen a day later with "Erm..."

    Nevertheless I think some of your points are valid but equally I do know a bit more than I should about gender identity and physiology. Some of it makes for pretty tough conclusions. Not suitable for dinner parties I've found!

    How's that blog going?

  7. Hey Emlyn. Love to know how that Singapore gig is coming on. I've been exploring Qianmen a lot since we spoke. It's an interesting part of town and strangely more security than Tiananmen sometimes.

    I'll be checking your blog out shortly. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. u r *tryin* to give birth? be careful. they say it hurts :)

    i've seen ur "Erm...", but there definitely are more male star chefs than female ones. i'm into those gender things. just thought i should let the world know.

    not suitable for dinner parties, u've found? like found out? urself? oh no :)

    that blog? don't know what he's doin. last time i've seen him, he's been moanin bout me not having enough time to look after him, because i'm way too busy with writing long comments and other stuff... need to change that.

    how's beijing? does it feel like the city's getting back to 'normal'?

  9. Too early to tell Peggy but I will share as soon as I've got something to say. There's talk of a 'revenge' crackdown but that's just talk so far.