What Happens When Women Cook in John Fraser’s Kitchen


Last week, Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez told us that she’d be taking part in a weekly female chefs series beginning next month at What Happens When. Now the restaurant, which just began its third movement yesterday, has coughed up some more details about the series, which will every Monday feature the work of a female chef, sommelier, and pastry chef.

Eater has the full lineup, which features a bevy of talented people who happen to have a double X chromosome. In addition to Carlucci-Rodriguez, there’s the likes of Missy Robbins (A Voce), Alex Raij (Txikito), Amanda Cohen (Dirt Candy), Katy Sparks, and Sue Torres (Sueños). Pastry chefs include Shuna Fish Lydon (Peels), Nancy Olson (Gramercy Tavern), Gina DePalma (Babbo), and Angela Pinkerton (Eleven Madison Park), while sommeliers include Juliette Pope (Gramercy Tavern), Amanda Reade Sturgeon (Dovetail), Braithe Tidwel (Union Square Café), and Claire Papparazzo (Blue Hill Farm).

Notably missing from the lineup is Gabrielle Hamilton, whose best-selling memoir Blood, Bones & Butter features an entire chapter on why she’s tired of “this draining, polarizing conversation about where the women are in the industry.”

And looking at the restaurant’s press materials, her point feels relevant: The chefs who will cook at What Happens When are encouraged to “experiment and reach beyond the dishes, desserts and wines that diners would expect in their respective restaurants.” But many of these supremely talented chefs are already experimenting and exploring at their respective restaurants, where they’ve made a name for themselves doing food that exceeds the expectations of their many appreciative customers. So it’s difficult not to read the press materials as well-intentioned but condescending, and it also makes one wonder where celebrating female talent ends and a publicity stunt begins.

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