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Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal believes women in the kitchen face several struggles

The three-time Michelin-star chef weighs in on the lack of diversity in the kitchen.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 08, 2019, 10.50 AM IST
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Heston Blumenthal
Heston Blumenthal said that women chefs reaching the same status as their male counterparts depended on several reasons — including their biological clock.
While accepting the World’s Best Female Chef prize at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards in 2018, Irish chef Clare Smyth asked a simple question: “Why don’t we see more women being represented at the top level of the industry, and why is there a lack of diversity?” That’s a question that chef Heston Blumenthal, the recipient of three Michelin stars, has been asked often.

“I don’t know the answer. I am asking this question myself as well,” Blumenthal said when ETPanache met him at an event in Mumbai earlier this year.

Tick tock
Blumenthal said that women chefs reaching the same status as their male counterparts depended on several reasons — including their biological clock. “I think it depends on a lot of factors, including the culture in the country,” he said. “I have always employed female chefs, but historically and ultimately, the body clock starts working. It’s evolution, and it is one thing to have a 9-5 job and quite another to be a chef with kids. So, that makes it difficult . [The physical strain of lifting] Heavy pots and pans…. But I think it is much better now that it was 15 years ago. This I can speak for.”

Women on top
Still, there are challenges. Base salary, parental leave and health care. And of course, sexism. Blumenthal said that he has seen women who work in the kitchen determined to keep their place. “Earlier, to be a successful female chef in a male-dominated environment, you had to be tough as old boots. You had to fight harder. I know a few female chefs who have done very well.”

And the women are also fighting sexism. “Quite frankly, men [chefs] have asked for this; they’ve brought it on themselves. The shock of women standing up for themselves is strong and men get really insecure”.

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