They have shattered the glass ceiling in the once very macho world of gastronomy. Opposed to the gendered approach in the kitchen, the chefs arrive in force and want to be highlighted to set an example.
“We are trying to make ourselves visible,” said Julia Sedefdjian, 26 years old and a Michelin star, who shows her Mediterranean dishes during the Taste of Paris.
Organized at the Grand Palais Ephémère at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, this festival puts women in the spotlight.
“I have never met so many female bosses (…) It shows that we are there, that we are arriving in force”.
Such meetings make young girls want to get started, assures Julia Sedefdjian, the youngest star chef in France, predicting real parity and the development of women in the profession “in 10 years”.
– Effervescence of women –
“The DNA of Taste of Paris is to represent the Parisian culinary scene at the moment and today it is the effervescence of women”, summarizes Mathilde Delville, director of the programming of the festival during which the public tastes starred dishes for 8 to 12 euros.
Asked in the past about the under-representation of women, she changed the programming of the festival which welcomes each chef for one day and more than four, which allows small houses with small brigades to participate.
“This is an unmissable event for us,” Stéphanie le Quellec, 2 Michelin stars and winner in 2011 of the popular Top Chef program, told AFP.
If at the beginning of her career, she had the impression of having to give ten times more to succeed against her colleagues, “it is less and less the case. The profession has changed, but there are still things to do “.
– Middle + macho +, zero models –
“I’m lucky to have a little character but today it is necessary that the personalities who are more in the discretion never have to live that”, she says.
Thirty-something Nina Metayer, twice elected pastry chef of the year, confides in engaging in a “balancing act” between her life as a mother of two little girls and an entrepreneur in charge of an online store.
“We must not select man / woman in gastronomy, but we must talk about inequalities that are always present (…) It will take five to six generations to get rid of bad reflexes”, she said to the ‘AFP.
She started in the bakery, arousing incomprehension from those around her. “My friends told me: + you are going to miss your life +”.
“There was zero model” to follow at the time.
– “Feminine” plate? –
“I am very happy that women are highlighted during this festival,” pastry chef Jeffrey Cagnes told AFP.
“There are not enough female bosses today. It has to do with certain macho sides of men.”
The gastronomic guides and rankings, singled out for having ignored the women, have multiplied trophies to distinguish the chefs.
The Peruvian Pia Léon was thus elected best female chef of the year by the prestigious British ranking 50 Best.
A “gendered” price that is not to everyone’s taste.
“I hate the idea of gender-neutral cuisine, the debate on the existence of women in gastronomy goes beyond”, underlines Stéphanie Le Quellec. “I have trouble with that,” says Julia Sedefdjian.
But Hélène Darroze, 5 Michelin stars including two won last year, claims feminine cuisine, “more emotional than technical”. “We have a different sensitivity, it must be seen on the plate”.
“It’s a bit sectarian to make categories, in the kitchen you don’t need physical strength, but mental strength, flexibility of the hands and taste. different from a man? ”says Jeffrey Cagnes.
Asked by AFP, Pia Léon believes that her trophy does not reward her “as a woman” but as a leader of those who embark on the path of gastronomy.