Cooking is a competitive team sport. And NYC kitchen cultures are notorious for being like men's locker rooms: sweaty and filled with testosterone. Recently I was asked what's it's like to be a female cook...
Even kitchen's in France (or maybe I should say especially kitchen's in France) are balls to the wall, militaristic, male environments. So how does some one like me, a girly girl, who actually picks the pink kitchen towels out from the blue and white ones fit in? Good question. I suppose the answer is: I don't. That's not to say that I have a problem breaking down a leg of veal, killing lobsters, or sweating it out over the fire. I'm all into that too. I enjoy the adrenaline rush, the push, the team effort just as much as any guy.
I find the trick (as I've learned through trial and error) to cooking in a dominant male culture is to be yourself, but stand your ground. And make sure you have at least one really good girlfriend. Maybe even one that speaks French so you can talk privately. Gossip shamelessly.
The other great thing about having at least one girlfriend in the kitchen (I'm lucky to have several) is then you have your own private island that you can escape to when the guys start, well, being guys.
And truthfully, I actually think the girl talk is often dirtier than the guy talk. Our conversations vary from what's the hottest perfume to the latest greatest cooking technique to whether vibrators should be substituted for male companionship. (No conclusions formed on any subject listed.)
At least we have better things to talk about than football and basketball. Jeez. Do men and women approach cooking differently? Of course we do. Is that a bad thing? No. Do some guys hate cooking with women in the kitchen? Yes. Do most guys appreciate women in the kitchen? Yes!
Do we all cook together for 12 hours a day and then go out get beers together afterwards? Oh hell yes! What is respected above all regardless of sex, is the quality of your work and your commitment. That stands on its own. I think all the men and women that I cook with would agree .