On any given day of the week, my food heroes are hard at work in professional kitchens. They’re chopping vegetables, watching over gently simmering sauces on the stove, picking herbs for garnish, filleting fish, curing charcuterie, butchering steaks or chops, or rolling pasta and making filling for ravioli. They’re hustling to assemble mise-en-place for the next dinner or lunch service. Hungry to learn and eager to advance, they hold tight to the dream of one day being a chef. My food heroes are the young women who are professional cooks.
They’ll discover early that, even now, favour still falls on men in the business of being a chef. They’ll volunteer at events where not a single chef is a woman. They’ll see their young male peers coached to win in competitions. They'll be told that test kitchens and catering are the best places for women to work. They’ll flip through food magazines with articles about hot young chefs that include one token woman. They’ll watch as prestigious international awards are given out to hundreds of male chefs and one or two exceptional females. In professional kitchens, they’ll have to fight to get out of the ghetto that is garde manger. They’ll look up the ranks to the chefs in charge, and won’t see their kind represented.
Even with the odds stacked against them, they show up at the stove. Putting on the white chef jacket and hat is an act of hope for their future. Their grit and determination are what I admire the most about the young women who are professional cooks. While their male peers work with little opposition, these young women step into the kitchen knowing that a battle is part of their job.
Belonging is why I support Community Food Centres Canada. When 92 percent of their clients report that they feel they belong to a community when they go there, that’s important. Social inclusion, like professional inclusion, is vital for the well-being of individuals and the community at large. Giving to Community Food Centres lets them continue to do the good work of making space at a table big enough for everyone.
Thanks to Deborah for making a donation to the #myfoodhero campaign, which supports Community Food Centres Canada to offer empowering food programs that build better health, skills, and belonging in the communities that need it most. Join Deborah by making a donation today!