Paul Bocuse, Guy Savoy, Cyril Lignac or Michel Bras, these French chefs are certainly familiar to you and you could quote more without too much difficulty. But what about French chefs? Why are they so little represented since the early ages of gastronomy? What are the evolutions and feminine stars of today? A decoding signed by Les Grappes.
As early as the late Middle Ages, cooking as a professional discipline appeared in most royal courts in Europe. In France it was a man, Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent, who wrote the first collection of cooking recipes (Le Viandier) at the court of King Charles VI. At the time, a kind of ostracism probably confined women to purely domestic cooking.
In the popular jargon, we often speak of "mistress of the house", "cake grandmother" or even "woman to be married" to designate a "good cook", but never a "chef". The profession of chef is then a noble status granted to a handful of men. Women were mostly employed as cooks in the middle-class homes. In 1893, women were also refused the position of apprentice cook by the Congress of the Paris Chamber of Trade Unions. This was a serious measure, as it would be several decades before women could open their own restaurants.
Among the first women entrepreneurs in the field were the Brazier and Bourgeois Mothers at the head of the very famous "Mères Lyonnaises" house, which also received its first stars in the Michelin Guide in 1933!
It wasn't until the 1980s that women gained access to the CAP for cooking. In 2014, they were only 17% to prepare this CAP and when they prepare it we see that they are directed towards pastry, a field considered more feminine (they are 84% in this field). It is in the BTS, BAC PRO that they are more numerous and are then directed towards trades such as room service, tableware or management.
If we note today an increasingly encouraging presence of women in jobs related to gastronomy (there are 5000 chefs in the world), prejudices have a hard time: 60% of employers admit that maternity is a hindrance to the promotion of their female employees and we note only 3 women for 14 men in the kitchen.
The reasons that are regularly cited for keeping women away from this environment are the unfavourable conditions of the tasks, such as physical hardship (prolonged standing, utensils too high, scars and burns inherent in the hazards of the job, etc.) and the lack of access to the work environment.) or the hectic pace and flexibility of schedules potentially incompatible with family life. Without forgetting the existence of a world where bullying, sometimes deliberately violent and macho, transcribes a discriminatory hostility that is unfortunately always present in the kitchen.
But who would dare to say even today that women are not brave enough, persevering enough, or ambitious enough in the face of adversity and preconceived ideas as old as the world?
The famous French chefs, Anne-Sophie Pic (triple starred since 2007, elected best chef in the world in 2011 by the Veuve-Clicquot prize), Hélène Darroze (winner of the Veuve-Clicquot prize) and the famous French chef, Anne-Sophie Pic (winner of the Veuve-Clicquot prize in 2007), are just a few examples.read best chef in the world in 2015) or Christelle Brua (crowned best pastry chef in the world in 2019, currently chef at the Elysée Palace) whose culinary skills and restaurants are recognized worldwide.
Female hopefuls are not to be outdone either. Of the 75 stars won in 2019, 11 were won by women, representing 16% of the winners compared with 5% in 2017. In 2020 the number of new starred chefs will fall to 6.
A good progress despite everything that we welcome as much as the initiative of an annual meeting on the occasion of the Parabere Forum (which is held this year on March 1st and 2nd in Istanbul) where chefs, sommeliers, sommeliers and wine experts from all over the world will be present.chefs, pastry chefs and chambermaids from all over the world come together to share their vision of the gastronomic world and to help it evolve by finding inspiration through the experience of their colleagues.
Other associations of women restaurateurs have emerged such as "Les nouvelles mères cuisinières" in 2001 in which we find Hélène Darroze, Ariane Daguin, Elena Arzek and many other women restaurateurs recognized in the field. The purpose of this association is to allow women to face together the pitfalls that are posed on the way when you are a woman and you want to become a chef.
What is certain is that one day very soon it will be the women who will be carrying the spoon!
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