Pastry chefs with varying experiences sat around a table to discuss what is it to be a woman in the dessert kitchen
What brings people together? Is it possible to introduce a group with only one thing in common, and have the individuals speak for hours? We brought up the topic of pastry with a selection of successful women, and the conversation ranged from using the best ingredients to experiences of all kinds in the kitchen. While perhaps there is some antiquated notion that women do not deserve a place in today’s modern kitchen, or are somehow not as capable, the collected group have proven they are more than confident in leading teams, winning awards, and starting thriving businesses. They are passionate, professional, creative, and dedicated to the craft of pastry.
During the discussion, the dialogue first centered on the chefs’ respective journeys in the culinary arts. Overall, the group was split on when they wanted to become involved with pastry. Some of the women started in completely different fields (animation, fine arts, nutrition), and even if working in a kitchen, the beginning of their careers wasn’t necessarily in pastry. The remainder gathered work experience in kitchens and restaurants around the world. Perhaps surprisingly, formal pastry training was something not necessary for all of the chefs.
It’s worth the struggle
The group had to work hard, perhaps harder than their male counterparts, to obtain the positions they are in today. In their experience, the women had to overcome adversity and sexism in the kitchen. Be it from detrimental, antagonistic, or misogynist situations, the group heard ‘no’ just as many times as they heard ‘yes.’ And yet, they persevered. As of today, these women are leaders in some capacity, and many of them work outside of their kitchens as culinary consultants to well-recognized institutions.
When it came to advising the next generation of chefs, each of the women had nearly identical recommendations. The suggestion to keep going, to understand the realities of what the industry will throw at any person starting out, was repeated again and again. The women recognized that the work would be difficult, and there would be sacrifices, but the payoff could be amazing. The road to becoming a successful pastry chef is not an easy one, but by supporting others in the kitchen, the journey can be made easier.
A bright future
When discussing the pressure to be present on social media, each of the chefs admitted to having accounts on various platforms. As busy as most of them are, the commitment to consistently post can be a bit of a hassle, but a necessary one. One of the chefs mentioned that her business grew considerably by using social media to highlight her various products.
When asked how they wanted their careers to progress, the answers were not of writing cookbooks, appearing on television shows, or winning awards. The collected chefs were mainly interested in opening individual shops, continuing to consult, and providing training to home cooks or others starting their careers.