Are women chefs tired of hearing the question, “Why aren’t there more women chefs?” We asked a few women chefs in Bangalore that question, and more.
“Go make me a sandwich,” might be a phrase to put down girls, but there genuinely seems to be a lack of women in the professional kitchen. Explocity spoke to chefs from around the city and one of the drawbacks for women in the biz, so to speak, are the long working hours and physical endurance.
“Women are in high demand in the communication wings of hospitality, but in the kitchen - nope. Even when I was in college and chose to specialise in this field I was questioned a lot,” Chef Deepa Gurung, Hyatt told Explocity. “But I knew I was strong, mentally and physically. So I could handle it. And I had my family’s support.”
The industry is deemed aggressive with a lot of heavy lifting of huge utensils and daunting twelve hour shifts. “A chef’s profession is quite tough. It requires long working hours, sometimes you work for upto 12 to 14 hours which gets little tricky to balance work and personal life,” Chef Renae Smith from MasterChef Australia told Explocity. But even if women do enter the industry most of them specialise in pastry, instead of cuisine.
Sasha Maria Vania Dominique Fernandes from ITC Gardenia feels women have been conditioned to believe the stereotypes and perceptions handed to them. “The opinion that kitchen is too tough a workplace for women and that we are just not up to handling the pressures of the hospitality industry is a view that is constantly forced on us by those who don’t know better.”
Very few women enter the field in the first place. Chef Nimisha Verghese from the Oberoi, was always familiar with the field. “My father was in the industry and so I had early exposure to this world of hospitality.” She also blames the long working hours, and no balance between private and professional lives. “But, if you have a good team and mentor at work and a supporting environment at home, then, I feel more women would embrace this industry.”
Chef Puja Reddy from Serafina on the other hand thinks that hard work is bottom line no matter what gender you are. “Just like any other career,” she adds. And even though there are fewer women, chefs we spoke to said they have never faced any hostility from other chefs. “People are open and encouraging.”
But ultimately it is a very satisfying career. Chef Kusha Mathur from ITC Windsor believes, “Being a chef has its own lifestyle. It comes with it own brand of craziness and a passion which has to come straight from the heart.”