2018 Primetime Emmy
& James Beard Award Winner

R&K Insider: The real dirt edition

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Happy Thursday, dear readers, and it’s good to be back in the ol’ newsletter swing of things again. I was laid low for the last couple of weeks by a bout of illness. But don’t worry; that hasn’t stopped me from quietly stewing about the state of the world, it just means I’m way caught up on the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary.

As I emerged from my stupor on Friday, I was talking to some fellow food/media/food-media women about the revelations surrounding sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, and how our own industries have failed to address pervasive harassment and sexism. (Incidentally, we were chatting while attending an incredible dinner made by Olia Hercules. You should buy her new book, Kaukasis!)

It was with interest, therefore, that I read Amanda Cohen, of New York’s beloved veg restaurant Dirt Candy, on why women chefs shouldn’t only get the spotlight when portrayed as victims. She writes:

“I’ve been in this business for 20 years, and I don’t think I’m owed anything except equality of opportunity. But don’t ignore me, marginalize me, cut me out of your coverage, and then ask me to be your victim. Don’t pack your headlines with the hot young men, the male-dominated restaurant groups, the macho celebrity chefs, and then expect me to be impressed by your sudden outrage.”

It’s no secret that kitchens have a serious gender imbalance; when I worked in professional kitchens a decade ago, I was lucky to work in some women-owned and -operated kitchens, and these veterans warned us younger ladies about the uphill battle we’d be facing, not just because of the normal rigors of kitchen life, but because of the pervasive dismissal of female chefs throughout food media and the tendency to relegate coverage of female chefs to gendered stories rather than general food coverage. As Cohen notes, “Over the past 12 months, The New York Times has written major reviews for 44 restaurants. Six of those kitchens are run by women.”

She concludes with a not-comprehensive list of female-run kitchens, which made me think about friends of mine who have decided only to read books written by women for a year, or other such ventures. I’m now contemplating eating at women-owned and/or -operated restaurants for some period of time. In any event, her point is well taken, and arguments that there’s nothing that can be done to improve diversity in awards and press coverage are stupid. So, dear readers, send me great articles on female chefs! And that photo up top is a picture of the rainbow cauliflower I had at Dirt Candy a few months ago, so get over there stat.

Anyway, here’s a couple I missed while I was out: how José Andrés is shaping the future of disaster relief. Did you catch this article on the middle-aged female scammers of Chinatown? Includes an interesting aside on what constitutes a hate crime.

And some I’m reading now: Why Facebook can’t cope with the world it created. Gin-flavored potato chips: no or godammit, no? (“So they will taste like juniper?” a coworker asked. “No, regret,” another answered.) “It’s not authoritarian nationalism that the May government has successfully normalised. It’s total fucking incompetence.” Who else is pumped to read a new translation of The Odyssey? TripAdvisor will now identify venues where sexual assault has taken place, in the rare piece of interesting travel news. PSA: Do NOT get naked in the kitchen EVER. What if China finds aliens first? Didn’t anyone else watch Arrival? Finally, an excellent weekend read on a child prodigy and an act of violence in The Atavist.

See you next week for more food, travel, and politics stories from around the web. Tweet me stories you’d like to see here @caraparks.

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