How many well-known female chefs can you name? What about restaurant critics or food writers? Nigella, Delia and Mary come to mind, but in general, you’ll agree that the food industry is one dominated by men. In a bid to raise awareness of the issue, this month sees the TOAST presents Women in Food series of events take place in London – the result of a collaboration between freelance journalist Miranda York and fundraiser Sarah Chamberlain.
Having met on a food writing course, the pair found that they were both keen to create the opportunity for people to engage with questions about food. And so TOAST was born: an initiative designed to provide a space for discussions and debates around food culture and ideas. Women in Wine, Women in Restaurants and Women in Media; the three events feature prominent speakers such as ES Magazine‘s resident restaurant snob Grace Dent, chef Skye Gyngell and the Sunday Times‘ expert wine writer Kate Spicer. We found out a little more about TOAST Presents Women in Food from York and Chamberlain…
How did the idea of the events come about?
We were to talking to Signe Johansen of cookery blog Scandilicious about doing something to celebrate all the amazing women working across the food industry. We felt that on the whole they were underrepresented and yet no one was really talking about it. The issue is often ignored. So we decided to do something about it.
We think of women as the ones generally cooking for husbands and children – so why is the food world dominated by men?
That’s one of the questions we want to ask. There is certainly a dichotomy between home cooks on the one hand and restaurant chefs on the other. You don’t get many women in whites on television, for example. We’ll be looking at this more closely in our Women in Restaurants event on November 13th.
How did you choose the line-up of speakers? And what was their reaction to the idea of the Women In Food series of events?
We simply thought of women we admired. The reaction was very positive – everyone was very enthusiastic about the idea and questioned why it hadn’t been done before.
Are we expecting many men to attend these events?
We hope to see men coming to the events – it’s an issue that affects them too – but we know that the demographic will be slightly skewed. It’s possible men are less aware of the issue as it’s simply the norm.
Can we expect further events in the future?
Yes! We put on a festival and a couple of smaller events prior to this one, and we’re planning many more for the future.
The three Women in Food events will take place on 7th (Women in Wine), 13th (Women in Restaurants) and 21st November (Women in Media) at the Hide Gallery Leathermarket, 22B Leathermarket Street, London SE1 3HP. Tickets for the events are priced at £15 (or £35 for alll three) and can be purchased via the TOAST website.