Really Marco?... Where to begin? Marco Pierre White a chef of undoubted greatness, who has, more recently made of a career out of after-dinner speeches and picking holes in other chefs’ endeavours, has come out in defence of men in the kitchen, while simultaneously slighting women’s ability to perform at the highest levels.
Now, the former three Michelin star chef is known for speaking his mind but the restaurant industry has spent the last few years working very hard to dispel the notion that women are in any way not as capable as men when it comes to a high-pressure environment like a restaurant kitchen.
The chef was speaking to the Sunday Independent to promote a new television series of The Restaurant and his comments were, inexplicably described by the interviewer as “telling it like it is”. However, Marco Pierre White, a chef at his peak when things were very different seems somewhat determined to highlight the fact that he was and is very much of a different era with comments like these.
He wasn’t completely negative about the fairer sex however and the chef did reserve some praise for women saying "Women tend to have a better palate because they have a better sense of smell."
"They are more consistent than men when it comes to cooking because they respect the house more, they do their job. They may not be as fast, they may not be as physically strong" but, he says, "they are very consistent with their presentation [whereas] a man will try and change it because of his ego."
The comments made plenty of headlines and drew more than a little derision, however, as always, we’d be best advised to read the full copy of any interview before limbering up our typing fingers and wading into the stormy waters of the comments section. On men and their attributes the chef says:
"The real positive with men is that men can absorb pressure better, that's the main difference because they are not as emotional and they don't take things personally."
"Men can absorb pressure in busy moments," he continued, "maybe the reason why women can't take pressure as much is because, in a kitchen, there might be 20 men and two women so they haven't got that friendship around them. Can you imagine if you were in a kitchen with 20 women? It's different. So, in a strange sort of way, you are filling out numbers and you haven't got people to talk to in the same way as you can with your own."
When asked what attributes men bring to the kitchen he says: "They've got the physical strength."
"What tends to happen with females in the kitchen is that they tend to go to larder or they tend to go to pastry, they are not in the main kitchen, and so that's why you see a lot of female pastry chefs... they haven't got the pressure."
We all know that Marco Pierre White doesn’t care what the consensus is, or indeed what anyone else thinks, he’s going to say what he thinks, which in today’s PC minefield is admirable. What initially looks like a controversy hand grenade is then expertly reined back in by the chef who actually on balance says that women are better in the kitchen than men.
"We have all got strengths and weaknesses, but ladies, in many ways, have more qualities than men in a kitchen because your palate is number one, consistency is number two, punctuality is number three and ladies might go out on a Friday night - but they still turn up on a Saturday morning. Men tend to push it a bit too far and then ring in sick."
While Marco Pierre White has long since hung up his apron as a professional chef, the writer, television personality and restaurateur is never far from the headlines. For sure that’s his game here - just staying in the news.