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Friday, May 11, 2007



This is utter rubbish. All you have to do is read the list of attributes to see that there is a laughable bias against the so-called "male" way of cooking -- nary a judgement-free adjective in the bunch. It's very easy to come up with a list of male chefs who defy this ridiculous stereotype (Craig Stoll, Chris Cosentino) but harder to come up with women who buck the "trend" but I think that's because there are fewer women executive chefs.


I totally cook like a tom-boy I think. I cook girly but sometimes have a masculine pose to my madness in the kitchen.


What an amusing topic... I'd guess that I'm a tom-boy or completely androgynous in the kitchen. Certain elements from either list could describe me. And I don't think there is any way I could guess if the chef who cooked me something was male or female.


Your yin-yang photo is priceless!
I cook like a "girl" in this assessment. Slow, light, nurturing... all that. So why shouldn't boys cook like that? And they do.
Oh, wait. I also like curing meat, sharpening knives, eating naughty bits.
OK, so, it's rubbish.
I can't wait to come back and read the rest of the comments.
Good one.


Hazan, Waters, Reichel, Levy Berenbaum, Rogers, Wells, Goin, , van Brenzen, Casas, Clark, Somerville, Child, Jaffery, Shere, Flemming, Hamilton.
How'd I do?


Oh...and I totally think that men and women cook very differently, but I don't think this author describes it accurately at all.


Catherine, I'll let you tell Chris Cosentino he cooks like a girl. It's true that there are very few women executive chefs and fewer still who defy the author's stereotypes. Probably the most successful and celebrated is Elena Arzak of 3-star Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain.

Garrett, love your description of tom-boy cooking.

SilverSara, yes, very amusing. It would be fun to provide a bunch of plates to test the author's theories.

Cookie, I can't take credit for the Yin-Yang photo. Click it and it will take you to the site of the person who presumably took it.

Aaron, pretty good! You got them all right except Ruth, Rose, Janet, and Julie. That's 13 out of 17. Hint: look at the authors that follow and/or precede those names.

For Aaron or anyone else: any guesses on the surnames of the male chefs I listed in 2 places?


Ummmmm...heap of rubbish? And frankly totally western-centric.

What would she make of my beloved Thai curries? Would Southern or Western Indian cooking (can be fairly simple, like a kadhi) be more "feminine" than elaborate Northern Indian dishes (biriyani)? This is just silliness.

Good food is good food. I guess I cook bi. Sometimes elaborate, when I feel a need to spend a restorative afternoon doing nothing but chopping and cooking. Sometimes pared down, when I am feeling overwhelmed by life and need something simple.


Batali, Bourdain, Henderson, Picard.


Rowley Leigh was seen as one of the pioneers of new British cuisine. He hasn't written any seminal cookbooks per se but his recipe column in the Weekend Financial Times has a keen following. (The Financial TImes is a British newspaper with excellent food&drink journalism, sold in a U.S. edition that includes Leigh's column on Saturdays.) He used to be the head chef at Kensington Place. Here is a link to an illuminating interview (or more like a conversation) he had with (masculine?) Fergus Henderson of St John fame:


Simon Hopkinson wrote 'Roast Chicken and other stories' which was voted 'The Best Cookbook of all Time'. Here is a pithy interview with him:


And here is an excellently written review of his Roast chicken which lives on at Bibendum where he was formerly head chef:



Ben beat me to the Hopkinson info...My take on the article (which I also read on Monday) is, "Who cares?" The important thing is the food. Forget knife-throwing women and nurturing men and concentrate on what tastes good and why it does, I say...Just don't turn into a girlie-man and wiggle your fingers when you wave to your fans, as George Bush does, and you'll be fine.

shuna fish lydon


This is an amazing topic for discussion! having worked for both female and male executive chefs I can say that there are real differences. But few are obviously chosen-gender centric. Also, it's important to note, that women have to behave very differently in professional kitchens than men.

A woman in a professional kitchen is in a man's place. Yes, even in the modern age. Even in progressive Northern California.

I can often tell the age (professional as well as actual) of the person cooking my meals. Male or Female though? Again, I think the differences are more nuanced. But in their realm, the back of house, I do think it's more obvious.

Men tend to be blindly confident. For women it takes us longer to hold our own and let the world know it.

I think when a person has been in the industry a long time, they can make more clear, concise, intuitive & informed assessments. Some of them are stereotypes... but some parts of stereotypes are true.

But-- to correct you--
a girl is a child under 12. Please refer to us professional adults as women.


Diane, good point. I hadn't thought of that. Equating "simple" with feminine is very Eurocentric.

Aaron, got all the boys. I made that too easy, didn't I.

Ben, thanks for the info. I knew I could count on one of my readers to enlighten me. I'm in NYC right now, so I'll read the links when I get a free moment.

Kudzu, no worries at this point in time. I don't have any adoring fans at whom I could wave and wiggle my fingers like good ole W. If I ever meet Georgie, by the way, I'd certainly just wave one finger at him.


Shuna, what you say is unfortunately correct. Restaurant kitchens are still, as you put it, "a man's place," even in socalled progressive NoCal. But I truly believe it doesn't have to be that way. It's time for kitchens to evolve! As for my overuse of the word "girl," surely you know I was just being cheeky. I was attempting to underline the silliness of the author's assertions. A few times I referred to men as boys and often referred to women as women.... Yes, stereotypes are partially based on commonly agreed upon generalizations, but I would not agree that any stereotypes are "true." Truth is objective. Stereotypes are subjective.


Not to get all existential here, but I don't think truth is objective, especially in a restaurant kitchen. Everyone has their own truth, whether that means how he/she views the world, what he/she needs to believe to be true to get through the day, or what is truly delicious. "Truth" to the ingredients and to one's palette is a very subjective matter.


I loved this post as well as the yin and yang picture which captures it perfectly!


First up - please keep calling me a girl not a woman as cheekily as you like. If Shuna can demand to be known as a buoy then I can certainly insist on the use of girl for myself.

It was a long, long time ago and I can't remember what, but I have eaten Simopn Hopkinson's food at Bibendum. I do remembe rhte sepcialness of the evening, although I can't exactly recall the food.

Alistair Little I am more familiar with. It was at his restaurant I nervously first tried an oyster. I have loved them ever since. That place was great - I wonder how it is today.

As for me - of course I am no chef, but I'd like to add that I cook like someone who is insatiably hungry for a good plate of food at every meal. Why would anyone ever aim for anything else?


I love the last paragraph of Sam's comment. Hear, hear!


You got them all right except Ruth, Rose, Janet, and Julie.

I'd guess the first two as Rogers and Gray, no idea about the other two though!


Fascinating article based along the lines as Men are from the Mars Women from Venus type of cocktail psychology it appears! Every day I cook, I cook in a slightly different way depending on my mood, my husband is the same. Sometimes food is big and bolshy, others delicate and pale.


I'm not sure what I think about my cooking style; but, I sure as heck preferred working with female cooks and chefs when I was working in kitchens.


according to article i definitely cook like a girl. and i have fun cooking like a girl! simple food is beautiful and it highlights the quality of the ingredients used. it's "honest" and delicious.


according to article i definitely cook like a girl. and i have fun cooking like a girl! simple food is beautiful and it highlights the quality of the ingredients used. it's "honest" and delicious.


I guess I cook like a Trysexual. I will try just about any cooking style and method. I like to mix it up and keep things interesting. If something works for me I stick with it, if it doesn't I try a few more times, just to make sure it doesn't work and then move on. Why is that there is always a certain segment that must label everything and everyone? If a dish is fantastic who cares if it was a man or woman that made it, it was just a great chef!


as a female exec chef, i've been on the inside, and i would have to say that in most cases, the generalization is true. once when traveling, two wine glasses deep at a restaurant in Arizona we knew nothing about and stopped at only while passing through, i looked up from my entree at my husband and said, "the chef is a woman!", then asked the server and was proven correct.
since leaving school, i haven't worked with many other women; however, those i have worked with or eaten at their restaurants, i am more drawn to. of course it's not true in all cases, nothing is that black and white. there are of course male chefs that knock my socks off too. but perhaps i'm a little sexist; having worked under men who were quite sexist themselves no matter how much harder you work or more creative you are than the men around you. leaves a bitter taste in your mouth when you work with some of those egos.

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