I was thinking last night about pastries and women.
I was thinking about the field of “pastry arts” and how it really is still a male-dominanted field. Don’t get me wrong – there are plenty of super amazing famous female pastry chefs– Jenifer Fournier and Mindy Segal, to name two of my personal pastry idols. But whenever I come across a “Top Ten Pastry Chef’s” or pastry awards type thing, the winners are always mostly men. This years “pastry oscars,” formally known as Dessert Professional Magazine’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs of 2011 had but one woman, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez , on its list. And as I glance at the coffee table in front of me, there just so happens to be the July issue of Food & Wine Magazine with the headline “Best New Chefs” and an accompanying photo of said chefs, among which, again, is one woman.
This is certainly not the faults of these competitions – I don’t sit at home and think the world is against woman or trying to keep us down or anything like that. It’s just a fact – there are significantly less woman then men among the ranks of the elite in the pastry world. Even with this notion glaring obviously everywhere we turn, there are two things that make me question how it can be so:
1. My pastry class has a ratio of 10:1, women to men. There are 20 women in the class and 2 men. Neither are better than the other. The instructors, on the other hand, have the opposite ratio. So the plot thickens.
2. When you think of baking, you naturally think of women. It’s not being sexist – it’s just a fact. If you close your eyes, and imagine someone baking a cake, it’s probably someone that looks like your mom, in the kitchen, whipping up something from your grandmother’s catalog of “secret recipes.” Everyone seems to use their grandmother’s secret recipes – not their grandfather’s.
So I just don’t get it. I suppose it could be that the pastry field has just in recent years opened up to include more women. But then, what about all the grandmothers? Sure, I know all about women’s history, and the women’s lib movement. But is that really the reason there are so few woman in the field today? There are plenty of fields where this is just not the case. And, based on what I see in my class, there is no shortage of talented women entering the field.
What sent these particular wheels spinning in my mind was my teacher’s recommendation to watch the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.” I am going to watch it – it looks like something I’d totally dig. But why is it all Kings? Where are the Queens of Pastry? Come on pastry queens, let’s show these guys what we can do. 🙂
FYI: I did not make these tarts in the photo all by myself – it was a team effort and I’m honored to work with such an incredibly talented team. 🙂