My sister is a restaurant owner and head chef, which is not only impressive because it is impressive (she opened her restaurant before turning 30) but also because she’s a female in a male-dominated industry. According to data, women only make up around 21 percent of head chefs, with men making up over 78 percent of this professional demographic. The restaurant is an interesting working environment for many reasons, and one of those is that it can be a traditionally gruff place, where the employees don’t exactly act like “employees,” the language is far from professional, and the pace of work is frantic. Walk into any commercial kitchen and it always feels like there’s a fire—figuratively in addition to literally. It takes some bold and brave types to not just work in a kitchen but to be the head chef. And it takes especially bold women. Here are the real struggles of being a female chef in this male-dominated industry.
It can be a toxic masculinity environment
This is completely speculative but it is something I’ve gathered from working in plenty of restaurants, and from gathering stories from women who work in kitchens: restaurant kitchens tend to attract some toxic masculinity. They tend to attract men who, quite ironically, have a “women belong in the kitchen” mentality but, like, the home kitchen.