In an industry where 90 percent of female employees are sexually harassed and a major magazine can do a giant food spread without including a single woman, it's no surprise that forward-thinking media types are hunting for amazing women in the kitchen to point the way to a more equitable future. As one of only two American women with two Michelin stars, Atelier Crenn's Dominique Crenn has been the recipient of a lot of this attention, and while she loves promoting women in the industry, she says the pressure is getting to her. "I often fumble my way through...feeling pressured to say something super-clever that will educate sexists, cheer on other female chefs, and get points from feminists, all while not pissing off my male colleagues (whom I greatly admire and appreciate having camaraderie with)," she writes in an essay for Vice Munchies. "I have spent my career watching from the sidelines while my male chef colleagues are asked, 'What is it like being a chef?'—not a male chef—and I long to be able to answer as they do."
Crenn was asked to write her essay in response to British chef and fellow two-star recipient Tom Kerridge's comments about "girls in the kitchen," in which he stated that women lack "a lot of that fire in a chef's belly you need...That's probably why there [are] not so many female chefs." For her part, Crenn lambastes the "shallow, misogynistic mindset that sends goosebumps down most women's backs...Tom, can you please pause and consider how your comments affect your colleagues, women who want to enter our precious field, and women in general? Can you turn to the women in your life and ask for honest feedback?" But she also has harsh words for the media environment in which she's been placed. "We are all chefs, but I am supposed to be something else, too. I am expected to be a champion on the gender cause on top of that. Don't get me wrong: I want to help pave the way to make things better for female chefs in our industry, and for all chefs in general, but I worry that I will always be seen as a female chef first, and a chef second. It's a corner I am forever stuck in."