I was recently at an industry event with a panel of chefs and restaurateurs answering questions about their successes, failures, challenges, etc. One audience member asked why there were no women on the panel. The host of the event stood and said they would be having another event with just women chefs later in the year. I was distraught, with so many things going on in my head, that I didn’t know what to say and therefore said NADA.
This is what I should have stood and said:
There shouldn’t be different panels for men and women. A chef and/or restaurateur is a job, a position and there are some women who do the job and many men. Men and women should listen to what each other has to share. If you have a women only panel, the men aren’t going to show up.
I think there will never be as many women chefs and restaurateurs as there are men because women are in charge of the family at home. That’s it. Sorry. Yes, I’m a feminist but I think women who want to have a family, do not want to work nights and weekends. More men are OK with that scenario. I was OK with it too, but think I am an exception. Some women choose to not have a family. Much easier to be a chef.
This is how I did it:
My husband worked equally “crummy” hours as a police detective. We had different days off, so we swapped baby duty which allowed my husband quality time with our daughter, even through he let her eat ice cream for dinner once in a while. We paid through the nose for a nanny who came to the house three or four evenings a week. I owned the business, so if I needed to come in late because of an “emergency”, or take a day off for a dance recital, I could schedule MY staff around MY needs. It was MY payroll. My husband retired early, and took over daughter duty full time. He started his own business and when he traveled we were back to finding sitters, sending our daughter to friend’s houses for the evening, arranging carpools, or having her come to the restaurant and all those other headaches that come with parenting. It was tough. I even paid some of my staff to pick her up from dance class and deliver her home when she was older.
That’s it. All the men on the panel spoke lovingly about their wives and all the sacrifices they had made for them and their beautiful families. They couldn’t have done it without their wives. I couldn’t have done it without my husband, nannies, mother, staff, daughter’s friends or my friends. And there is no way I could have done it if I had not been the owner. No way. I would have sold the business. And I wouldn’t have been on the panel. Oh, wait, I wasn’t invited.