Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Heston Blumenthal blames biological clock for female chefs' lack of success

The award-winning chef said the body clock and heavy pans could be reasons for why women don't make it big in the food industry

British chef Heston Blumenthal owns the Michelin-starred Fat Duck in the UK. AFP 
British chef Heston Blumenthal owns the Michelin-starred Fat Duck in the UK. AFP 

Heston Blumenthal has done a Marco Pierre White. No, the two British chefs have not blended broths to create something delicious to eat, but rather have stirred controversy by commenting about the success, or lack thereof, of female chefs.

Two months after White declared “women are more emotional in the kitchen”, Blumenthal poured more fuel to the gender discrimination fire. In an interview with India’s Economic Times, the Fat Duck chef had this to say, when asked why women are still not well represented in the food industry: “Historically and ultimately, the body clock starts working. It’s evolution, and it is one thing to have a 9 to 5 job and quite another to be a chef with kids. So, that makes it difficult. [And the] heavy pots and pans…”

What the body clock has to do with a woman’s cooking prowess is beyond us. And what about those women who don't want children: would they make more successful chefs in Blumenthal's opinion?

Also, why returning to a work shift, whether it’s from 9am to 5pm, or 5pm to midnight, should be an issue for female chefs is anyone’s guess (ironically, Blumenthal’s popular Fat Duck restaurant in Bray shuts shop at 9pm).

Either way, alluding to clocks – biological or otherwise – as potential reasons behind under-representation is not “evolution”. Quite the opposite.

Speaking of biology, sure some women may be physically weaker than some men, but how heavy are these superhuman pots and pans? White referenced them during his August tirade too, noting: “Look at the size of some of the pans you are carrying. Can you imagine you’re a lady in the kitchen and saying: ‘Will you carry that pan for me?’”

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , SEPTEMBER 25 – 2019 :- Chef Marco Pierre White at the Marco’s New York Italian restaurant at the Fairmont hotel Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Life Style . Story by Panna
Marco Pierre White. Pawan Singh / The National

More bizarrely if strength is the issue, why would having a baby, and hopefully claiming her rightful maternity leave from the chef patrons, diminish a female chef’s ability to lift objects? If anything, carrying a baby around for hours on end – without spilling – should yield greater arm and back strength, no?

As one Twitter mum put it ever-so succinctly: “Is this guy serious? After childbirth, women are strong as hell and will rip your face off with their baby toe if you cross them.”

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that every mother masterchef has to ask for assistance to transport a heavy pan from hob to counter. Would that be the reason she was unable break into the upper echelons of the food industry?

“The male vegetable peeler was promoted to head chef over me,” said no female sous-chef ever. And if she did, we doubt the reason was her weight-lifting capacity.

Updated: October 13, 2019 04:56 PM

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