Sparks flew in the Sophia College kitchen when Delzad Avari donned his toque and lifted the wok, saying, “Women are just cooks. They don’t have it in them to be chefs. Not even my mum.” It was the same old war on a new battlefield.
For ages, women have sweated it out in a single room. They have cooked meals, retaining recipes that were passed down through the generations. But Delzad, a hospitality management student isn’t convinced. He is adamant. “Most famous chefs around the world are men.” To think of it, maybe they are. The curt Gordon Ramsay, the cute Jamie Oliver, and the legendary Auguste Escoffier are all men you know.
“That is just a preconceived notion. Tarla Dalal is a woman and she is very popular. We women add that loving touch,” says student chef Bhavna Rathod. But Bhavna doesn’t get too much support, as the other man in the kitchen decides to join the battle. “No one can beat Chef Masaharu Morimoto of Japan. He is way more professional than any woman can ever be.”
The argument continues as Bhavna retorts saying, “Male chefs come home to their wives…it’s the wife that cooks the most important meals.”
For some this might sound like a futile fight. “The sex of a person really has nothing to do with it. Women are tied down by their roles in the family which is why you don’t see many female chefs,” says Meher Dasundi, head, HAFT Hospitality Management at Sophia College.
Owner of restaurant Goa Portuguesa, Suhas Awchat, explains what he calls male domination in the kitchens around the world. “Men have a superiority complex so they hog the limelight.” He goes on to explain how he thinks that women are the ones who are really passionate and dedicated. His wife gets all the support. “She is my master chef,” he says.
Food and Beverage lecturer Hoshang Velati has a different opinion. “The reason you see more men than women in culinary professions is because it is very hard work. It is a strenuous job with long hours and you are on your feet all day. Women often step down a notch when they have families.”