The S. Pellegrino yearly ranking of the world’s best restaurants is always cause for celebration, but this year marks a new turn in the rankings. That’s because they’ve announced a new category of awards: the World’s Best Female Chef. France’s Anne-Sophie Pic garnered top honors, which is, of course, cause for celebration. But also reflection: Why is it that women can’t be recognized alongside men?
The win shouldn’t be all that surprising; after all, Pic has three Michelin stars (she’s the fourth woman in the world ever to gain them), and she holds her own against any male chef.
And indeed, this notion of a male/female dichotomy isn’t a new one; just a few weeks ago, we pondered about the female chef series at What Happens When, which coincidentally debuted last night, with Amanda Freitag, Nancy Olson, and Laura Maniec helming the kitchen (The Feast has a short write-up of the dinner).
Yet what makes this situation slightly different is that Pic’s own restaurant website reinforces a notion that her cooking possesses “feminine” traits:
Si l’on devait ne retenir que trois mots de la cuisine, ce serait le respect, la saveur et la simplicité. Une simplicité — toute féminine — qui s’amuse de la recherche de la perfection et s’affirme dans la franchise des goûts.
Which, according to our high school French, basically translates to “If one only keeps in mind three words about cooking, it would be respect, taste, and simplicity. A feminine simplicity that finds itself in perfection and affirms itself in the franchise of taste.”
Yes, maybe it is a bit disheartening to think that women can’t be judged against men, but what’s also disappointing is that we haven’t escaped the use of gender as a marketing tool, either.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 12, 2011