Every so often, a certain conversation comes up in the hospitality industry. “What’s with the terminology ‘female chef’?” It’s a complicated issue – we’d like gender to be irrelevant, especially when talking about how people suit professions, but how do we actively champion ‘female’ chefs, and build a more accommodating place for women in hospitality (by combating sexism, offering better – or actual – maternity benefits, etcetera), without referring to their sex?
Unfortunately, it’s an old issue, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Partly through willing discussion do we see progress, however incremental, in addressing it. And now’s a good time to keep the ball rolling – discourses such as this are set to take centre stage this Thursday, for International Women’s Day. If you’re interested in getting involved in the discussion of how we can cultivate a better working environment for women in hospitality, here are a few events on March 8th to look out for.
The ‘female chef’ debate will be one of the central topics at Haché Burger’s Holborn site on Thursday. A who’s who panel of Selin Kiazim (Oklava), Lulu Grimes (BBC Good Food Director), Ruth Spivey (wine judge and sommelier), and Nicki Kopcke (Mazí Mas founder and diversity activist) will sit down with Evening Standard lifestyle journalist Frankie McCoy to talk about some of the biggest challenges currently facing women in the food industry. Ticket sale proceeds will help fund Mazí Mas, a ‘roving’ restaurant project offering support to women who want to get into the food and hospitality industry, but lack the support to do so.
Ladies of Restaurants is a collective of women in hospitality who like to have each other’s backs. On Thursday, LoR founders Libby Andrews and Natalia Ribbe will chair a series of talks at Old Spitalfields Market focusing on female empowerment in the hospitality industry. Namely, the stories behind individuals’ successes, and how those achievements can inspire other women to follow suit. Panellists include Bleecker founder Zan Kaufman – who’s entrepreneurial acumen (and exquisite burgers) got her a kiosk in Spitalfields Market itself – and Emma Reynolds, the co-founder of Tonkotsu, one of London’s most prolific ramen joints. Spaces for the talks are free but limited – a casual networking party is open for anyone to attend after the event.
Visiting or exhibiting at Hotelympia this year? As the final day of the trade show falls on Thursday, organisers have decided to dedicate the entire day to ruminating on why there are a decreasing number of women in executive positions in the industry, and why, on average, women are paid less than men in similar roles. Dozens of inspirational women, including former exec chef of Belgrave Hotel Sophie Mitchell, ex Murano head chef and soon-to-be restaurateur Pip Lacey, and The TMRW Project founder Anna Sulan Masing, will be hosting and panelling seminars throughout the day.
Header image credit: Mazí Mas