It's International Women's Day, a kinda dumb designation, in my opinion. On the other hand, it did make me reflect a little.
Thirty years ago when I first started writing about food, the Dallas Morning News food section ran a big section front article: The New Women Chefs. Or something like that. The gist was that there were a significant number of women in charge of significant restaurants for the first time. Big news.
Kitchen chauvinism is famously established. With its roots in French culture, it was transplanted and flourished in the macho competitiveness of American restaurants. Women cooked at home; men cooked professionally.
I used to be a member of an international, sorority-like organization called Les Dames d'Escoffier, International, which was founded to counter that culinary sexism. Notable women (you have to be nominated and meet certain qualifications) professionals in food, wine and hospitality clubbed together to raise money for the culinary education of women. Julia Child was involved. Mary Sue Milliken, Lidia Bastianich, Marion Nestle, Betty Fussell, Rozanne Gold, Dorie Greenspan, Paula Wolfert and Nancy Oakes are members. Past members include too many famous female names to list.
The point is how much the food peoplescape has changed. Women are everywhere in professional food now, and have helped expand its considerations beyond the restaurant table and vineyard to the school lunchrooms, farms and gardens of the world.
We don't have an LDEI chapter, but we do have an amazing group of energetic, intelligent and involved women in the Utah food scene: I can't even begin to list them all, but think: SuAn Chow, Vanessa Chang, Tamara Gibo, Jennifer Gilroy, Chantelle Bourdeaux, Cara Schwindt, Amy Britt, Virginia Rainey, Christi Paulson, Lucy Cardenas, Faith Scheffler, Val Phillips, Heather KIng, Susan Massey, Blake Spalding, Jen Castle, Romina Rasmussen, Angel Manfredini, the whole Deer Valley crew, Leslie Seggar, Jennifer Hines…
Hey, if you read this, help me name them. Add names to the list that I have totally inadvertently omitted, and say thank you today to our lovely ladies of Utah food.
Image from imagemajestic.