San Francisco chef Gayle Pirie has had it with your complaints that there aren’t enough lady chefs nowadays (if you’re a member of the San Francisco food scene, that is). In a fascinating essay for Inside Scoop SF, Pirie takes the reader through her experiences in some of the city’s most hallowed kitchens—most of them run by other women.

Pirie’s point isn’t that a lack of women chefs doesn’t constitute an issue; it’s that raw numbers don’t communicate the influence of prominent women on the current state of San Francisco’s dining scene. There are obvious examples like Alice Waters, of course, along with the litany of names Pirie drops, from Zuni Cafe’s Kathi Riley to the scores of female employees Riley supervised.

The full essay is absolutely worth a read, but here are Pirie’s powerful closing words:

These women and countless others constructed our modern culinary foundation. Their due diligence, perseverance, vision, remains vital to our culinary heritage and future. Wherever you enjoy a wood oven-cooked anything, a female chef drove that aesthetic and sensibility. It is trivializing to count the number of women chefs working today; it imposes a faulty measurement on the history of women in the business contributing not only extraordinary cuisine, but who created the critical “must-haves” in restaurant business plans, all now taken for granted.


[via Inside Scoop SF]