Interview with Chef Alex Guarnaschelli of Butter - New York, NY
Antoinette Bruno:Is this an important issue for you?
Alex Guarnaschelli: I think the “issue” of women chefs is important to document and discuss for the women seeking to enter the field now. It is helpful to understand the history and progress made for new culinary professionals. It will encourage them to raise the bar on their personal goals. I think the gender of the chef does not consistently affect the way a kitchen is run. Women can be more “motherly” in some ways but a male chef can be just as effective by being “fatherly.”
AB: How did having a child factor in to your career?
AG: Having a child means that I have had to rewrite the list of children I already had (aka some of my cooks) and put my own daughter at the top of the list. I am, for the record, not going to allow any cooking utensils in her room! I had to make sacrifices while pregnant because I was physically incapable of functioning the way I usually do. I couldn’t stand the smell of cooking food for a few months…it has all been worth it. One look at her and it’s all worth it!
AB: Tell me about your experience cooking in France.
AG: Working in France is a little more “old school” with the traditional values. I had to dig deep, at times and get a little nasty but it was a symptom of developing an independent style of cooking and cheffing, which I feel I am still working on…
AB: Do you see a difference between the last generation of female chefs and the new one?
AG: I think history sees the female chefs that preceded me in a different way because some time has passed and their achievements are placed in a larger context and compared with the accomplishments of a lot of women chefs currently working. There are a lot more of us now and we are growing in numbers! I would like the idea of a woman chef to vanish, actually, and for everyone to be thought of as the same. We are all cooks. We all love what we do. Let’s hit the greenmarket and have some fun!