The L.A. premiere of the moving documentary A Fine Line by filmmaker Joanna James took place at the Cinepolis Cinemas in Palisades Village last week, examining why so few head chefs and restaurant owners are women. A panel of world-renowned chefs, including Antonia Lofaso from DAMA, Food Network star Aarti Sequeira and Michelin-starred chef Carrie Nahabedian (who is featured in the film) was moderated by pastry chef icon Sherry Yard to shed light on #MeToo in the male-dominated food world. Ellen Curtis and chef Hillary Henderson from CUT by Wolfgang Puck also shared their stories.
A Fine Line explores why only 6 percent of head chefs and restaurant owners are women, when traditionally women have always held the central role in the kitchen. The film grapples with themes like workplace harassment, equal pay, paid parental leave and career advancement.
Offering perspectives and experiences in a male-dominated field from world-renowned chefs such as Dominique Crenn, Lidia Bastianich, April Bloomfield, Barbara Lynch, Cat Cora and many more, the film gets to the heart of what is needed to empower women across all industries.
James tells her mother Valerie’s personal story of a small-town restaurateur with a larger than life personality; a single mother of Greek immigrants on a mission doing what she loves, while raising two kids. It’s an uplifting American success story about unending perseverance, family and food.
“I was 17 years old, working 48 hours a week in high school, serving 260 meals a night at an upscale hotel,” James Beard award-winner Nahabedian told the crowd after the screening, which benefited Careers Through Culinary Arts L.A. “I was a target — a white girl from the Chicago suburbs — and any time somebody would start to harass me, I’d tell them if they had that much time I’d come after their job. You keep doing it because you love it. As a woman you wear that every single day. “
Despite setbacks, the progress and awareness was encouraging, with panel moderator and spitfire Yard going on to point out, “This city, compared to any other city in the country, Los Angeles has more women running kitchens per capita than any other city. And there are only more to come.”