Globally, the mainstream restaurant business has long been dominated by men - especially on the senior end of the chain. But all that's set to change - or at least take a step in the right direction.
2019 will see the first ever World Restaurant Awards take place in Paris. The heavyweight ceremony, dubbed the ‘Oscars of the restaurant world’, will change up ingredients to the current restaurant climate for a more inclusive ceremony by pledging to recognise and celebrate diversity on the international restaurant scene.
Though not quite an ideal 50:50, the awards will be judged by a panel of 44 female and 56 male chefs, restaurateurs and food personalities around the world, a split much more even than most of the sector's endeavours of previous years.
“Women are closing in on the gender gap” explains chef May Chow “I can tell you that five or ten years ago the numbers would not have been close to that. It’s not just women supporting the movement - everyone is coming together and supporting diversity”.
The owner and operator of two of Hong Kong's most successful restaurants Little Bao and Happy Paradise, Chow is one of Asia’s leading ladies, having been voted Best Female Chef 2017 at the Asia's 50 Best Restaurants list. She adds, “Traditionally it wasn’t very accepted for women to be in the kitchen professionally. Male chefs tend to have a more supportive family structure at home, where wives are happy to take care over children and this is usually very accepted in society. But turn things around and it becomes a juggling act if a woman decides to become a professional chef. The good news is that times are changing and now we are at a transitioning point with more opportunities for female voices to be represented globally. I am happy to be part of this.”
Caroline Taylor, general manager of popular Italian restaurant in London Novikov and one of Europe’s most influential people in hospitality echoes the sentiment of the importance of diversity.
“Things are improving with more women being at the helm, in the kitchen and/or running the show, though undeniably the industry is more male dominant," she says. "I am extremely proud to see so much female talent adding to the hospitality sector, demonstrating how our passion and determination can make an impact, overcoming barriers and showcasing our leadership skills. I am excited to see what the future holds for the industry, and confident that diversity is the way forward.”
Until the awards come around in 2019, here are some of the trailblazers around the world to look out for, picked with a little help from some of the fabulous females of the World Restaurant Awards judging panel.
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