“A woman’s place is in the kitchen” – Surely you have heard it some or the other time. A gender-biased politics termed as “tradition” was set by a dominant patriarchal society for ages.
Now, why is it that when it comes to professional kitchens, men become skeptical about hiring or working under women chefs? Well, going by the pages of history and norms of the society- it is okay for a woman to cook for her family, but not acceptable when she becomes a professional chef in a restaurant out of interest and passion for cooking.
The story of two female chefs in Pakistan reported by Dawn will give you a fine understanding of the scenario in the male-dominated kitchen in the country. There is a tide of rising female chefs in this country and does that mean that they are treated equally to their male counterparts?
27-year-old Niha Akber from Karachi is a head pastry chef at Marcel’s and handles a team of 20 people working under her- where only two are females and rest is men. “It is very different here in Pakistan when a female is leading a team; there is a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations.”
While she was interviewing different chefs for Marcel’s, she came across one guy, a pastry chef, who said, “I’ll work under any ‘gora’ be it female or male but I will not work under a female Pakistani Chef.”
Niha says that was the time she realized that there is not gender equality and every single day is a challenge to prove these men wrong.
Watch the video here:
These chefs have entered Pakistan’s male-dominated commercial kitchens — and they’re here to stay
Read about their journey here: images.dawn.com/news/1180178
Posted by Dawn.com on Sunday, June 3, 2018
Another female Chef, Arooj Norman says, “I am a consultant now, I started off as a chef and I have done all the odd jobs starting from sweeping, that’s where I started from actually, I used to sweep floors.”
When Arooj spoke to her parents about her wish to become a chef, they reacted very very poorly. Due to the generation gap, her parents too thought that being a chef was something that did not pay well and would have preferred their daughter to be a teacher instead.
“Females in the kitchen always tend to face a slight prejudice….. You have to show that you’re one of the guys, working here in Pakistan, as an employee in the professional kitchen has given me a lot of insight as to how these kitchens operate.”
She recalls how she has faced a lot of negativity in the professional kitchen and there is always a chef who will look at her and go like “I have 40 years of experience, I have 30 years of experience, why is this female being brought in to teach me?” That for Urooj is the biggest challenge- to try to convince that guy that she has something to teach that might be worth his while.
More power to these female chefs, who have created a niche for themselves in this male-dominated industry and the delectable items they prepare with such skills and precision, leaving everyone hungry for more!