The British chef, who recently opened ingredient driven Core in London, calmly took to the podium, beaming, as she made her thank yous. Yet it was the clarity of her ideas she shared on gender equality as well as her pragmatic approach to encouraging a more human industry which resonated.
I’m constantly being asked why we have a lack of female chefs, why we don’t see more women represented at the top level of the industry and why is there a lack of diversity. The thing is, I don’t have the answers, well not all of them. For the last 10 years of my career I’ve been asked, what is it like to be a female chef? To which I reply – I’m not sure what you mean, because I’ve never been a male chef. (Laughter and applause from the audience). Now the question I’m being asked about this reward is to have this award or not to have this award as the role of a chef is not gender specific. But the fact is we all know that we don’t see enough women represented at the top of our industry.
On encouraging diversity in the industry:
We all must encourage people from all backgrounds to achieve success. We must make it attractive for everyone because we simply do not have enough people and enough skills required across the board. We must make it a more pleasant working environment, we must be more supportive, tolerant, understanding and kind. We must make a conscious effort to remove barriers and support a healthy gender balance to make a more human workplace for both men and women.
On making change:
You can’t put all women in a box or under the same label. Everybody’s different. Each person has their own story but we must listen to each other and support each other. I also know that we won’t change things by doing nothing. And there are no quick fixes – it’s in what we do everyday that we will make a difference. We must draw a line under this and make sure that we clear the path for the next generation as I for one can’t wait till we achieve equality and this debate moves on.