Ladies any comments?
Men seem to have the innate ability to make cooking an art, writes ZAHARAH OTHMAN
WOMEN, he says, are the best cooks in their kitchens, while men do it best professionally. That is the opinion of Yvan Cadiou, the famous French cook and a showman, who has performed his art in 14 countries. And who, I might add, was also among the countless number of male cookbook authors to have won an award at the recent Gourmand World Cookbook Award ceremony.
Watching male after male chefs and cookbook writers bundling up the stage to get their awards, I cant help feeling that the culinary world, especially that of cooking professionally, is now dominated by men.
And many of them are hunks, the likes of Yvan who, many would agree, would look more suitable in the pages of GQ.
There are of course women writers and chefs such as the First Lady of Greek Cuisine, Vefa Alexiadou and Norways Grand Dame of Norwegian cuisine, Ingrid Espelid Hovis and of course, our very own Mohana Gill who bagged the award for best vegetarian cookbook, but the number seemed to be small, never mind what Yvan said in that sexy French accent of his.
I had whispered my concern to my companion Helen Oon at the ceremony and she readily agreed that indeed men are not only the best chefs, but also the best designers and the best hairdressers.
And this is happening worldwide.
A newly-trained chef in America complained that her applications were rejected by restaurants which prefer male chefs. She wrote, The US Department of Labour considers chef a non-traditional job for women, placing it on the same list with jobs such as construction worker, firefighter and engine mechanic.
In a Michelin Guide to Paris, she noted that none of the 100 restaurants listed had a female senior chef.
I browsed through the British list of celebrity chefs and stopped counting when the number of male chefs got bigger and bigger. Names such as Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay, Ainsley Harriot and Tom Parker Bowles are more prominent these days.
When the Queen of British cooking, Delia Smith came out with her very simple and basic cookbook, On How to Cheat At Cooking, you shouldve heard the roar of protests from the male chefs who had worked hard to make cooking a passion, improve the techniques and also make food not only taste good, look good but also healthy. This, I feel is where Delia has let the side down.
To support Yvans arguement that women are still the best cooks in their own kitchens, some people pointed out that while women cook for their family, they couldnt cope with the physical work required of a chef in a professional kitchen.
I had watched the last episode of MasterChef biting my fingernails and rooting for 18-year-old Emily, who had impressed the judges with her creativity and passion but during her real test in the kitchen had not been as organised and calm as winner James Nathan, a lawyer. What a disappointment that was.
I must admit I enjoy watching male chefs at work. They seem to be so much in control, as they crush the garlic with a bang of the chopper on the board, whisk the egg with one hand while the other push away their locks covering their eyes and as they gingerly sprinkle garnishing on their creations.
Although Ramsay turns the air blue with his swearing, he still has good ratings for his TV shows. And one can certainly warm to Jamie Oliver especially when he refers to his ingredients as these little beauties.
Finally, do ponder on these words. Fernand Point, the inventor of nouvelle cuisine, in 1950 said only men have the technique, discipline and passion that makes cooking consistently an art.
One of his students, Paul Bocuse, was reported as saying: The chef who names a dish after a woman is a gentleman and a diplomat. The chef who invites that same woman into his kitchen as a colleague is a fool.