Eugénie Brazier's 123rd birthday

Discussion in 'Off Topic Chat' started by Becky, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    You might have noticed the new Google Doodle today - it is there to celebrate the 123rd birthday of Eugénie Brazier, a French chef who became the first woman to earn three Michelin stars (in 1933), and the first person to achieve three Michelin stars in two restaurants.

    Eugénie Brazier.png

    You can read more about her here: Eugénie Brazier
     
    Becky, Jun 12, 2018
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  2. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't know about her. So nice to read about accomplished women in the culinary arts. Interesting, women throughout the world perform the vast majority of cooking, but in general, women are not recognized for their work.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 13, 2018
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  3. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    That is very true. Whilst most every day cooking seems to be done by women, it does tend to be men who succeed at it professionally. I guess that is partly to do with the fact that women tend to be the ones who choose to bring up children (and working in a pro kitchen doesn't have good hours), and partly that women don't tend to have the assertive temperament needed. Or is it just that when a woman is assertive she comes across badly, but when a man is assertive he comes across as strong?
     
    Becky, Jun 13, 2018
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  4. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I think there are a number of factors contributing to the low representation of female professional chefs:

    1. Industry and social perceptions and expectations encourage men toward the industry. I attended an advanced culinary workshop with my husband some years ago. At the end of the workshop, he purchased a chef’s jacket. I did not buy a jacket simply because the jackets were sized for men, not women. When chef apparel isn’t even offered in women’s sizing, it’s a pretty clear indication that “women need not apply.”

    2. The professional kitchen as an abusive work environment. Chefs like Gordon Ramsay who routinely berate, humiliate, and bully everyone in the kitchen not only glorifies that type of abhorrent behavior, but sets the standard and normalizes behavior that is not acceptable in any other industry. Ramsay is the worst thing to every happen to the restaurant industry.

    3. Women are simply not given their due. I have a pastry book which features the greatest living pastry chefs in Europe (e.g., Pierre Herme, Helmut Lengauer, etc.). Of the 17 pastry chefs, not one is a woman. Not surprising as accolades begin within peer groups, then filter out into the general public. Media then follows suit by highlighting chefs the industry casts into the spotlight.

    4. Gender bias in hiring is real. When I worked in HR recruitment and hiring we tracked the demographics of applicants and hires. When I posted jobs associated with females (secretary, clerks, administrative assistant) few if any men applied. But professional positions attracted disproportionately more men. When equally qualified male and female applicant resumes were presented to the hiring managers, most selected the male for further consideration.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 13, 2018
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  5. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    Very interesting to hear your POV as someone who has seen how it works. I agree that there are many issues in the industry, and I hope that women can be more and more recognised for their work. There is a Michelin-starred restaurant near(ish) to where we live called Northcote, and the head chef there is female, which is encouraging (the food is incredible, we've been a few times). I got curious about other female chefs with Michelin stars and found this list:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_chefs_with_Michelin_stars

    If you order it by country you can see how many there are in each place. France seems to be leading the way, but UK isn't far behind. USA has very few given its population size :(

    Once people start to see women doing well in the field I think it can help change attitudes, but it'll be a long, hard process. Certainly the women who have done well will presumably have had an uphill battle to get recognised, but hopefully their hard work will make it progressively easier for the women who come after them.
     
    Becky, Jun 14, 2018 at 12:27 PM
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  6. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    I’m not surprised the US lags behind a Europeans. The vast majority of Americans are caught in the corporate food processors net that was cast in the 1950’s. Between the food processors and supermarkets, Americans are given hundreds of choices of processed boxed and cans foods. Home cooked meals are made with processed foods.

    Eating out isno better. Corporate chains serve up more processed food. It was cultural shock when I moved to the south as cooking and eating was so different from what I was used to.

    I wasn’t surprised to see that the majority of Michelin star chefs were from the San Francisco Bay Area. The counterculture movement of the 1960’s rejected all that processed food. The wholesome organic approach to eating wasn’t anything to rave about in the 70s. It was bland, heavy and dense. But in the 1980’s that began to change as chefs began to embrace some of the best fresh food traditions from around the world.

    It’s been slow to spread across the US, but it’s happening.

    But this food revolution has a dark side. There’s 16 Michelin star restaurants in the wine country here. The Restaurant at Meadowood is a couple miles from me; The French Laundry is about 15 mins down the road. But I’ve never eaten at either restaurant. It takes 9 months to get a reservation. Then there’s the cost of about $500 per person. There’s something seriously wrong when a working class agricultural community has a plethora of restaurants that serve only the wealthy tourists. The locals who live and work here cannot dine out here.

    Last spring I overheard a conversation between a couple of women. One said she cannot afford to take her grandchildren out to lunch as the drive-in burger place charges $10 for a burger. The other said she could not cook what her grandchild wanted; when she asked her her grandchild what she wanted to eat, the child replied, “salmon tartare.”

    This is not good for the community.
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 15, 2018 at 5:02 AM
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  7. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    Wow! That's terrifying. The closest Michelin starred restaurant to us is in Chester (an old walled city, very big tourist destination). The tasting menu there is between £70 and £100 per person (depending on when you go), which is considered an expensive meal out.

    Currently here in the UK there is a big push for 'artisan' food, and often the focus is on using local products. I live in an old market town on the outskirts of Manchester, and there has been a market here since 1290. More recently it has had an overhaul with a big focus on food, and there was an uproar from the older generation. It's relatively expensive but the food is great quality - a sandwich might cost around £6, but the bread is locally made sourdough, all the pickles are homemade, the meat is sourced locally, etc.

    I get that people are upset that they can't buy a cheap option at the market anymore, but I also think it's important that people are properly compensated for their work. Mass produced stuff is cheap, but if you want quality you have to pay for it. There are still plenty of more reasonable places for people to buy food from, and the market overhaul has turned the town around from a place that was notable by the number of empty retail units to a place that other areas are now trying to emulate.

    I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry at that!
     
    Becky, Jun 15, 2018 at 10:25 AM
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  8. Becky

    Norcalbaker59 Well-Known Member

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    Yes finding the balance of affordability to the consumer and compensation to the producer is a difficult one. In metropolitan areas where prices are higher to begin with, artisan products are not affordable to many. In outlying communities, the producers are not able to earn fair compensation.

    But I feel it’s wrong for restaurants like the French Laundry take pricing to unnecessary extreme—it’s a deliberate and conscious decision to limit access of food to a very select wealthy few.

    There’s also the wasteful consumption of the movement. Anthony Bourdain was highly critical of Alice Waters, the grandmother of farm to table, for her conspicuous consumption cooking methods. He called her out for practices like the open fire egg cup. An extraordinary amount of wood is used to create an open fire. Then a hand crafted metal egg cup is used to cook an egg over the open fire. The extraordinary consumption of resources, wood and metal, to cook a single egg is obscene.

    Bourdain wasn’t the only one questioning these practices. Dan Barber, an award winning farm to table the chef, wrote an interesting book on the detrimental effects of the farm to table movement. Barber was at the forefront of the farm to table movement.

    He started researching flour used in his critically acclaimed restaurant. He went out of his way to meet the farmer who grew the wheat he used. Barbara was shocked to discover a year later that the farmer had no wheat to sell him. When he inquired as to why he found the farmer cultivated crops based on environmentally sound farming practices including rotating crops to ensure the soil was not depleted of nutrients. Planting the same crop every year depletes the nutrients from the soil. To counter the adverse affects the soil is artificially fertilized. By rotating crops and selecting crops that are in fact beneficial to soil enhancement, the farmer is able to create a biodynamic farm without harm to the environment.

    The farmer didn’t care about marketability as much as he cared about sustainability and healthy environmental farming practices.

    The more Barbar learned from this farmer the more he begin to realize the adverse effects of farm to table. It promotes monocultures; severely limits crop selection based on consumer fickleness; contributes to soil depletion and erosion; is unsustainable.

    I don’t know what the right answers are in food production. I only know that food production is very complex as there are so many social, ethical, environmental, and political perspectives that come into play.

    http://www.thethirdplate.com/
     
    Norcalbaker59, Jun 15, 2018 at 7:54 PM
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  9. Becky

    Becky Administrator

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    That looks like an interesting read, thanks for the recommendation :)
     
    Becky, Jun 16, 2018 at 9:47 AM
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