KITCHEN BITCHES

A conference to address patriarchy in restaurants

August 7, 2015
by Lindsay Hutton 

The glass ceiling in restaurant kitchens took a solid clog stomping in June when Kate Burnham, a Toronto pastry chef, filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal against her former employers at Weslodge, a trendy, “casually refined saloon” located in Toronto.

Burnham’s application cites homophobic slurs, verbal abuse and sexual assault from her coworkers and higher-ups, including a male coworker regularly spraying hollandaise sauce in her face during Sunday brunch service, noting its similarities to male ejaculation. Hardly the vision of casual refinement.

Within days, noted Toronto-based restaurateur Jen Agg took to her weapon of choice, with a flurry of tweets resulting in the organization of Kitchen Bitches: Smashing the Patriarchy One Plate at a Time, a conference “conceived to address the suffocating patriarchy we must all endure in the world and in the world of restaurants.”

Set for September 3 in Toronto, the panels include both working chefs and a who’s-who of food writers and editors, including Peter Meehan, editor of Lucky Peach and Helen Rosner of Eater. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a women’s shelter choosing to remain anonymous.

Statistics Canada’s most recent data pegs the male to female ratio of chefs working in Canada at 3:1. But this isn’t just about parity by numbers—woman-identified chefs are fighting to address the misogyny, heterosexism, and shitty behaviour embedded in their chosen profession.

Tickets to the conference can be purchased here. Evidently, they’re going fast. 

ABOUT

Lindsay Hutton lives and works in Hamilton, Ontario.

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