Time magazine attracted the ire of the food world this week by not including any female chefs in its November 18th issue dedicated to "The Gods of Food." Bad enough they should turn a blind eye to the world's top lady chefs, but when questioned by Eater about the exclusion, editor Howard Chua-Eoan fanned the flames further declaring that it's a "harsh reality" but the chef's world is "still a boys club" and "[they] did not want to fill a quota of a woman chef." He also implied women couldn't do it on their own, claiming "women really need someone—if not men, themselves actually—to sort of take care of each other."
Understandably, some of New York's female chefs took umbrage with the implication that there isn't a single influential chef without a penis in all of the world. Amanda Cohen, maven of the inventive vegetable-focused eatery Dirt Candy thinks the magazine doesn't have a clue what it's talking about.
If TIME magazine wants to continue to be irrelevant and not accurately represent the restaurant industry, which is full of women, then that’s their choice. I’ve worked in restaurants for over a decade and have never found it to be a boys club. The only people who seem to think it is are magazines like TIME.
Sara Jenkins, chef and owner of Porsena and Porchetta, agrees with Cohen about Time's irrelevance and points to the larger problem that surrounds the powerful PR machine in Big Cooking.
I think it just shows how utterly clueless Time magazine is. In their history I cannot think of an event or trend that Time magazine has broken as a news story. They always seem to write about people or things only at the point where it's a mass media phenomena and on the backside of being relevant. I don't think they are who anyone turns to for cutting edge information or even in depth and informative stories...it's more an example of the relentless circle jerk between the media, pr agents and the chefs or countries who employ them than any kind of reflection on what's truly happening out there in the real world.
And Elizabeth Falkner, an award winning chef who opened her UWS restaurant Corvo Bianco this summer, called the issue "extremely narrow and unfortunate" but conceded that the "[female chefs] don't always get invited to the party...and that is deeply inconsiderate and a boring exercise of circle jerk masturbation":
The influence of countless female chefs is obvious and they simply chose to only point out the male chefs. I am not knocking any of the male chefs but articles like this are of eras past and Time Magazine must be losing ground to have to create a sensationalist story such as this.
There is a great network of female chefs called Women Chefs and Restaurateurs which was started 21 years ago because of this mentality in the media and the founders were sick of this kind of treatment. There is also a membership of female food and beverage professionals called Les Dames d'Escoffier and the editor should have done a little more research.
The truth is that there are many great female chefs, and many food writers, and yes, we have had to work hard to get there and stay there but to say that we don't have a widespread influence on generations of cooks and food and beverage is just a lie.
Falkner goes on to list over 30 female chefs very much deserving of a seat in Time's masculine pantheon, including April Bloomfield, Anita Lo, Alice Waters, Lidia Bastianich, Dorie Greenspan, Gabrielle Hamilton and many, many more.
Whether or not the "boy's club" still exists—the chefs we interviewed were divided on that topic—it's downright sexist and irresponsible for an institution to ignore the vast contributions by our nation's female chefs to fit the outdated and arbitrary editorial mold Time editors created for this issue. Luckily, their biased presentation of the culinary world has sparked a debate that will hopefully preclude this type of exclusion in the future. And if not, watch your back, editors: these ladies pack sharp knives.