Gastronomica Asks: Why Are There No Great Women Chefs?

Gastronomica, the journal of food and culture edited by Darra Goldstein, turns 10 this year. The current issue has, in addition to the usual fascinating art, poetry and prose, an intriguing piece by Charlotte Druckman asking "Why Are There No Great Women Chefs?" (Download the article here.) Druckman, who has written for Gourmet and The New York Times Magazine, looks at the number of Michelin stars and James Beard awards given to women chefs (precious few); the cult of the V-neck-wearing female cook on food television, as opposed to the knife-wielding, obscenity-screaming male chef; and the legacy of the all-male French kitchen brigade.

Perhaps more interesting, at least locally, is Druckman's examination of chefs like Suzanne Goin (Lucques, Tavern) and Nancy Silverton (Mozza) in her discussion of how we as a culture acknowledge and reward our best women chefs...

Of course Druckman contends that we don't, and that "the status quo is unacceptable." One should hasten to add that the argument is not that we do not have great women chefs, but that we do not allow them to be so publicly, preferring to locate them in the more stereotypical roles of mother, matron, vamp, whatever. So, is this the case, is the situation improving at all, or is it itself a slightly antiquated argument, a holdover from 1980s gender studies classes? The discussion is open.


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